How reliable is Land Rover?
Interested in a vehicle from this iconic brand but concerned about whether it’s a worthwhile investment? This article will provide you with all the information you could need to make an educated decision.
Land Rover is a name associated with British motoring as are MINI and Rolls Royce. Founded by Rover in 1948, it became a brand in its own right in 1978. The company has been owned by several companies since the first car was manufactured; including Ford, British Leyland and BMW. In 2008, it was sold to the Indian motor company Tata Motors, and in 2012 the company was merged with another British icon, Jaguar, to form Jaguar Land Rover.
Land Rover produces a number of incredibly popular models, including the Land Rover Discovery, the Range Rover Evoque, and the Range Rover Sport. In 2019, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Land Rover unveiled the completely re-imagined Defender, a model that was originally available between 1983 and 2012.
Often considered hard-wearing vehicles that are most at home on uneven terrain, Land Rovers were once most commonly seen as the farmer’s choice.
However, the image they have earned as off-road machines has been damaged in recent years by reports regarding reliability. But are they really as unreliable as the reports suggest?
In this article we will be looking at Land Rover’s reliability, is it really as negative as it often appears?
It should be noted while the article is about Land Rover, this is a generalised term that also includes Range Rover vehicles.
Is Land Rover reliable?
In the not-so-distant past, Land Rovers were built like tanks and people boasted of their capability as off-road vehicles. They were used by farmers and businesses to tow trailers and transport muddy dogs, dirt-covered boots and heavy equipment.
Unfortunately, those days now appear to have passed, with consistent reports of issues with the reliability of available models.
In 2012, the same year that Land Rover and Jaguar merged to become one entity, a consumer report from What Car? magazine (in collaboration with Warranty Direct) announced that, when it came to used cars, Land Rover was the most unreliable brand on the road. The report stated that 71% of used Land Rovers and Range Rovers break down each year and was based on an analysis of 50,000 extended warranty policies.
Upon referring to information from J.D Power, reliability scores for Land Rover vehicles between 2007 and 2016 were less than encouraging. For eight years out of the total 10, the company scored less than average, managing to only reach a maximum of 2.5 out of 5, which is much lower than the industry average. In a second study conducted in 2016, The American data analytics company J.D. Power researched the average number of problems per 100 vehicles from multiple manufacturers. The average number of problems was 133 per 100 vehicles. The results for Land Rover were, unfortunately, much higher than expected, with the brand seeing 179 problems per 100 cars, just under 2 issues per vehicle.
When it comes to reliability, it appears that not much has actually changed for Land Rover. 2019 scores from ReliabilityIndex indicate that the manufacturer is still close to the bottom when compared to other carmakers. Land Rover earned a score of 308, which means it placed 36 on a list of 40 brands. Though Maserati is in clear last place with a score of 774, this is not an impressive score for a popular manufacturer.
As well as earning a score of 308 and appearing in the bottom 5 of the ReliabilityIndex list of manufacturers, Land Rover also has a relatively high average repair cost of £452.58. The cost of repairs means that Land Rover comes in the bottom 10 when it comes to charges, in 31st place.
Which? also rates Land Rover so low, with Land Rover taking the last place in their reliability tables until their 2021 survey, where Alfa Romeo was revealed as the least reliable brand. This survey found that petrol-powered Land Rovers performed relatively well (especially for Land Rover standards), with only 23% of SUVs up to 4 years old getting something fixed over the year prior to the survey. It’s for this reason Which? gave their petrol vehicles 4 stars out of 5.
Unfortunately, most Land Rover owners in this survey chose diesel and this is where more problems emerged. In the same 0-4 age group, the number of drivers who needed their car fixed rose to 36% and 6% of drivers experienced their SUV completely breaking down or failing to start. As this is even worse than the average (4.9%), they gave these vehicles a 2-star rating.
This rating also continues with the other age groups, with 40% of drivers with a car aged 5-9 years old needing their vehicle fixed (the third most of any brand, after Alfa Romeo and Volvo). 6.7% of drivers had their car break down or fail to start too. As for the 10+ age group, 50% of drivers had at least one problem that had to be fixed and 11.6% of drivers had their car completely break down or not start.
Though the overall reliability of models produced by Land Rover (including their Range Rover vehicles) is not seen to be the best when reviewed for consumer and warranty reports, when looking at individual components of the vehicles (such as engine or braking system), they rate much better in the ReliabilityIndex report.
Air conditioning, gearbox, engine, braking system and the cooling and heating system all fared well, with less than 14% of owners reporting issues with these aspects of their vehicles. The electrics and fuel system earned an average score, placing 23rd and 21st place respectively. Steering and transmission both appear in the bottom 10 for reliability, however, reports from owners for all manufacturers were rather low when it comes to these two areas, and though steering placed 32 out of 40, only 6.09% of owners reported any problems with it. The transmission system list proves similar. Though Land Rover transmission systems placed 33 out of 40 manufacturers, only 5.67% of owners reported that they had needed to get this repaired.
However, when it comes to the axle and suspension, an element of any sturdy 4×4 that should be strong with unquestionable reliability, the story is completely different. In a list of 40 manufacturers, you would expect Land Rover to be near the top for the suspension, but it’s actually nearer the bottom of the Reliabilityindex list, in 37th place. A total of 36.23% of owners reported that they had found it necessary to take their Land Rover to the garage for repairs to the axle and suspension in the 12 months before the report was compiled.
How reliable is the Land Rover Discovery?
Since its humble beginnings in 1989 as the first new model series since the 1970 Range Rover, it has been known as influential, with many calling it the first “true off-road capable family car”. It has now entered its 5th generation back in 2017, becoming lighter than its last two generations, thanks to a unitised body structure.
Since its release in 1989, 1.2 million Discovery models have been sold as of the 1st of January 2017, with 313,365 sold between 2013 and 2019.
In their 5th-gen Discovery review, Which? gave it an overall test score of 48% and was generally unimpressed with the level of reliability on offer with this vehicle. Which? noted that it was “plagued with problems” and gave it 1 star out of 5 for reliability. They also commented that due to a long list of issues that affected half of the owners, drivers were left with no vehicle for an average of almost 10 days while it was being repaired.
35% of faults involved the exterior of the vehicle, including rainwater seals and door locks or handles, and almost 2 out of 3 drivers had non-engine electrical issues. This included problems with:
- On-board computer systems
- The alarm system
- Dashboard displays
Despite this, most of these faults didn’t affect the safety of driving the vehicles, but 12% of the cars involved in the survey had a breakdown occur over the year prior.
How reliable is the Range Rover Evoque?
The Range Rover Evoque was first introduced in 2011, and in that time, there have been 18 recalls on the Range Rover Evoque, which were to fix issues with the electrics, fuel system and engine.
Which? have awarded newer models (0-3 years) of the Evoque two stars out of five for reliability in the 2020 reliability survey.
43% of owners who participated in the survey reported that they had experienced problems with their newer vehicles. The key area of concern was onboard computer software issues and dashboard display problems, as 1 in 5 drivers were affected by this. This was closely followed by the exhaust/emission control system which was reported by 8% of owners.
In their summary of the Range Rover Evoque, Which? recommends that anyone who depends on their vehicle on a daily basis should be aware that if their vehicle does need repairs it could end up being off the road for an average duration of 5 days. 8% of Evoque owners whose vehicles were less than three years old reported that they’d experienced a breakdown and ended up without a car for almost a whole working week. Due to this vehicle being relatively new, Which? doesn’t currently have evidence to account for when this newest-generation model gets older.
However, it doesn’t get much better for older-generation models, with 54% of owners reporting that they had problems including automatic/semi-automatic transmission, central locking, exhaust or emission control system, parking sensors or the steering components. It’s due to this continued poor performance and the fact that 12% of owners reported their vehicles had completely broken down in the last 12 months prior to the survey, that the older model Evoque only managed to earn a paltry one star out of five when ranked by Which?.
If you love the Range Rover Evoque and it’s the 4×4 you dream of driving, have you considered leasing? If you lease the Range Rover Evoque with a complete maintenance package, you can be assured that you will be covered if the vehicle does break down and you won’t be left without a vehicle if your Evoque is in the garage for a few days. With a maintained lease, you could have the car of your dreams and the reassurance that should anything happen, you won’t have to pay expensive fees to have it repaired.
How reliable is the Range Rover Sport?
The Range Rover Sport was first introduced to the Range Rover and Land Rover family back in 2005. The second-generation models are the ones currently on the market, they were initially released in 2013. The vehicle has had several facelifts though everything else has remained the same.
It is marketed as a mid-sized SUV and is manufactured in the UK at the Jaguar Land Rover Solihull plant.
The Range Rover Sport hasn’t been the most dependable vehicle in the past, but it does appear to have improved considerably. According to WhatCar? the Sport is above class average for many things including electrics, brake fluid and bulbs. It is average for wiper blades. However, it rates lower than class average when it comes to the brake pads, with WhatCar? reporting that you will need to get them replaced earlier than you will in many other models. That said, being above average in many of these areas, especially electrics, is impressive.
Unfortunately, when looking at the Range Rover Sport as a vehicle, according to the reliability report from ReliabilityIndex (for 2019), it can be said that performance is poor.
The reliability score of the Sport is 366, which gives this model a lower score than the brand received as a whole. Repair costs are another issue that can be seen as unimpressive, with owners seeing an average charge of almost £480 if it needs to visit the garage. However, it can be seen as a positive that when it is necessary for you to take your Range Rover Sport into the local garage for repairs, they estimate that the average repair time is under three hours, which is great when considering the number of issues people have reported with the Range Rover Sport.
Unfortunately, when you break down the systems in the Sport, the picture doesn’t look much better according to the information from ReliabilityIndex.
If you’re living in a warm climate and rely upon the air conditioning in your Range Rover Sport, then you’re in luck as this is something in the vehicle that is unlikely to go wrong, with just 0.87% of owners reporting they had problems with their air conditioning that needed repairing.
Things aren’t much better if you look at the Which? reliability survey for 2019. 42% of owners of a new (0-3 years) Range Rover Sport found that it was necessary to take their vehicle to the garage for repair in the 12 months prior to taking part in the survey. This is a considerable amount higher than the average across manufacturers, which is 25%. When looking at the reasons for these necessary repairs, it doesn’t improve, with owners stating that there were, on average, 4 issues rather than just one.
The data gathered by Which? is similar to the information shown in the ReliabilityIndex report, with a considerable list of the most common faults that owners experience, including:
- Built-in sat nav
- Connectivity (such as Bluetooth)
- Dashboard display
- Media system
- Parking sensors
The number of owners who reported that their vehicle had broken down was also higher than expected, with 11% of new Range Rover Sport owners stating that their vehicle had needed to be transported to a garage for repairs.
The reasons above are why the Which? reliability survey for 2019 awarded new Range Rover Sport models, aged 0 to 3 years) an incredibly disappointing 1-star out of 5 for dependability.
Things are a little better if you’re the owner of an older model Range Rover Sport. At least according to Which?. The number of owners who experienced issues with their vehicles in the 12 months prior to participating in the survey was less than the 38% average reported by other manufacturers at 35%. This can be taken as a positive. However, the 10% who found it necessary to have their car taken to a garage following a breakdown was still relatively high, at 10%. It is this result which means the reliability score for the older Range Rover Sport is a very average 3-stars.
All this being said, the Range Rover Sport has a lot to recommend it, including style, and if you are concerned about the cost of repairs then getting your dream Range Rover on a lease with a maintenance pack is worth considering. So, if you’re looking to upgrade and you’ve got your heart set on this vehicle, a lease could be the ideal option for you.
Why is Land Rover unreliable?
One of the problems that we are starting to see with modern, luxury cars is that they come with a lot of modern technology. This is obviously great for the driver, and it means that they are worth the heftier price tag, but it does mean that they are more prone to problems.
The problem with new technology is just that, it’s new. So, there are bound to be a few problems every now and then with the likes of infotainment systems etc. This claim is backed up by Warranty Direct’s managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher. Talking about the survey in which Land Rover and Range Rover scored badly, he said;
“Cars have become increasingly complex, with lots of gadgetry on board, especially on executive models, where buyers expect more and more bang for their buck.”
How reliable are consumer surveys?
While we’re on the subject of reliability, how accurate are consumer surveys themselves?
Consumer surveys are a good way of determining a vehicle’s dependability. They ask the owners of the models how they have got on in terms of problems, recalls and repairs. They then use that feedback to come to informed conclusions.
Other surveys, such as the one carried out by WarrantyDirect, are also a good judgement. Admittedly, they only collect data from those who have contracts with them, however, it is possible for them to receive a wider pool of results as not everyone will be willing to complete a survey and they can use their own data.
One issue with consumer surveys, however, is that they can’t always give you the most up-to-date results on reliability. This is because people haven’t had the car long enough to give a judgement on its long-term reliability. That said, J.D Power has a predicted dependability rating which is usually reliable. Also, you can take results from past models to give you a rough idea of the reliability of a newer model.
Common Land Rover problems
There are some issues that are more common in Land Rover and Range Rover models than there are on others. It’s important that you know what some of these problems are, particularly if you are looking at a used Land Rover or Range Rover. Some of these problems include:
- Air suspension
- This is quite a common problem and is often seen after around six years.
- Oil leaks
- This can happen when the Land Rover reaches approximately 60,000 miles, however, it has been seen before a vehicle reaches this point too.
- Sunroof leaks
- This is an inconvenient issue that many have reported happens when a Land Rover is quite new. This is something to watch out for even if your Land Rover is relatively new.
Should I buy, lease or hire a Land Rover?
If you’re looking for a new vehicle and want something that has a strong history of producing rugged and robust vehicles that are ideally suited to muddy tyres and rough terrain, then you’re in the right place. Despite the fact that there are issues with reliability in new Land Rover and Range Rover models, they are a manufacturer many are incredibly loyal to, so if you’re looking to get a new car and have set your sights on one of the many models that are on the market (or about to be launched), have you considered a lease?
Conclusion: How reliable is Land Rover?
Land Rover and Range Rover are not reliable. It might be painful to admit it, but the evidence is clear to see. That said, its main competitor Jeep isn’t too good either. It’s mainly down to the amount of modern technology that is now in the cars because not long ago Land Rover cars were very reliable. Ultimately, though, people are still going to buy Land Rovers and Range Rovers because they look good, they drive well and there is an element of prestige to them. So will this article stop you? Possibly, but possibly not. However, it’s always good to know what you’re in for should you choose to buy, lease or finance a Land Rover or a Range Rover.
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