Word of mouth is a very powerful aspect of used car value. While luxury car companies might be able to command a premium for their new vehicles based upon the prestige of ownership and the peace of mind of a full factory warranty, once an automobile has hit the secondhand market its pricing falls victim to forces well outside the manufacturer's control. When the initial sheen of a luxury car has worn off, it is not at all uncommon for its value to tumble dramatically, making the vehicle much more affordable to the masses than when it was new.
The reputation of a car company when it comes to build quality plays a huge role in determining how much a used vehicle will depreciate in the years following its release. In this instance, the perceived reliability of a car or truck, as related in anecdotes or firsthand experience from person to person can easily sabotage its reputation amongst careful buyers. No matter how much an automaker has worked to resolve past issues, history can linger over a brand until it forms a sort of spectral mythology that is powerful enough to frighten buyers away and slash resale prices to the lowest possible level.
Land Rover, like several other British marques has had the misfortune to suffer from this type of damage to their status as a builder of high end vehicles. Due to a series of well-publicized faults in the vehicles sold by the company in the 1990s, the public has been wary of embracing any Land Rover vehicle which is not backed by the free labor and parts that a new warranty provides. This is despite the fact that the automaker has gone through not one but two ownership changes since their period of technical snafus, resulting in a much better product that is leagues apart from the troublesome models of the past.
Fortunately for used car buyers, this means that so many buyers have moved away from secondhand Land Rovers that they can be acquired for a song. This article takes a look at the three least expensive vehicles in the current Land Rover lineup and compares them to their equivalent used models in an effort to see which edition offers the best value. While prices will of course vary from region to region and are dependent upon the SUV's condition, the numbers laid out here should provide a good starting point for anyone searching for one of these luxury sport-utility vehicles.
2005 Land Rover Freelander versus 2009 Land Rover LR2
The 2009 Land Rover LR2 is the smallest, least expensive model in the company's entire lineup. Priced at $36,000, the LR2 is meant to provide an up market option for compact SUV buyers interested in a little bit more luxury than the standard offerings from Honda and co. With a 230 horsepower, 3.2-liter straight 6 engine and full-time all-wheel drive, the LR2 is a capable of handling snowy streets or rough mountain roads with impunity. There is only one trim level available for the compact SUV, and it comes standard with air conditioning, leather seats, a dual sunroof and dual zone climate control.
In 2005, the LR2 was called the Freelander and it bore styling that kept it in line with other small sport-utility vehicles of its day, but which was definitely different than its larger Land Rover cousins. The Freelander makes use of a 2.5-liter V6 engine capable of producing 174 horsepower, coupled to a very similar all-wheel drive system. The Freelander is outfitted with the same level of standard goodies as the LR2, making it a very comfortable vehicle regardless of which options were originally ordered.
The 2005 Freelander was not a popular seller for Land Rover thanks to consumers rejecting what was perceived as too high of a price tag when the vehicle was new. While this means that there are not all that many available on the used market, this scarcity has not elevated prices in the slightest. The Freelander can be picked up with around 20,000 miles on the clock for only $14,000, a substantial $20,000 savings over the cost of the newer LR2.
Given that the two vehicles sport a different look, and that the 2009 LR2 is a more capable off-road performer, it is difficult to make a case for either vehicle based on specifications and features alone. If the appearance of the 2005 Land Rover Freelander appeals to a buyer, then it certainly makes a solid choice over the new model, especially when the price chasm is factored into the equation. Style-conscious drivers would be wiser to stick with the 2009 Land Rover LR2 and pay the price for remaining at the cutting edge of SUV design.
2005 Land Rover LR3 versus 2009 Land Rover LR3
With a sticker price of just under $50,000, the 2009 Land Rover LR3 is the company's mid-level sport-utility vehicle aimed at growing families who want their children to be ensconced in the cradle of high-tech British luxury. A 4.4-liter V-8 engine provides 300 horsepower, matched with a 6-speed transmission, and all base model LR3's are equipped with leather seats, dual climate controls, a full range of power accessories and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The truck also features some of the best off-road characteristics in the business, with a wide array of software systems meant to steady the vehicle in even the most treacherous of driving conditions.
2005 represents the first year that the re-designed LR3 hit the North American market, and the similarities between the vehicles are extensive. They both share the same level of prowess when it comes to climbing rocks and fording streams, and they also have almost identical slab-sided good looks. The 2005 Land Rover LR3 looks like a finely-honed, ultra-modern appliance, especially when ordered in silver. It uses the same 8-cylinder drivetrain as the 2009 LR3, giving it great punch off the line and when passing.
With the company's newfound focus on quality, there is little to fear from a 2005 Land Rover LR3 in terms of reliability. Unfortunately, the Land Rover Discovery, which the LR3 replaced, was a vehicle rife with glitches that forced many unhappy buyers to seek alternatives to the brand. This ill will has carried over in part to sales of the used LR3, despite the fact that it shares almost nothing in common with its ancestor. A low-mileage 2005 Land Rover LR3 will run between $18,000 and $25,000 - half of what the newer edition retails for. Since the 2005 and 2009 models are for all intents and purposes twins, this helps to make the older Land Rover a spectacular deal for budget-conscious, yet luxury-hungry buyers.
At $10,000 more than the $50,000 LR3, the 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is meant to satisfy drivers who require the utility of a large SUV but who also crave the thrills associated with a high performance vehicle. While the Range Rover Sport shares the same 4.4-liter, 300 horsepower V-8 and 6-speed automatic transmission as the LR3, the vehicle's chassis is tuned in favor of pavement pounding performance instead of off-road heroism. The SUV is still very capable when it comes to dealing with the rough stuff, but it also provides a greater level of ride comfort and cornering ability than other more staid vehicles in the Land Rover showroom. Inside, the entry-level HSE Range Rover Sport is adorned with DVD navigation, a CD/MP3 player, supple leather seats and automatic climate control.
The 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport was the introductory edition of the performance-tinged vehicle, and from the outside there is almost no way to differentiate the two trucks. Each features the same aggressive good looks and power train choices, right down to the all-wheel drive system. The passenger compartment of the 2006 Range Rover Sport is also a dead ringer for that of the new SUV.
When browsing used prices, it becomes clear that the Ranger Rover Sport has not fallen victim to the same market forces that have brought other Land Rovers to their knees when it comes to value. In fact, examples of the sport-utility vehicle with between 16,000 and 30,000 miles showing on the odometer display a scattered array of asking prices, starting out around $35,000 and jumping up to $42,000. What is perhaps most interesting is the fact that the 390 horsepower Supercharged edition of the Range Rover Sport is available for $17,000 less than the 2009 base model. The extra 90 ponies contribute a lot more excitement to the Range Rover Sport's driving experience, and the strong savings make the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged a deal that cannot be ignored.