Used buying guide: Range Rover L322
If you enjoy a touch of class, a regal Range Rover doesn’t have to cost the crown jewels. But the wrong buy could be a right royal pain…
For car buyers on a budget but with a taste for the high life, there is only one luxury SUV: the Range Rover L322 of 2002-12. It still looks the business, especially the TDV8 Westminster Edition of 2012 with its illuminated treadplates, gloss black trim, and heated and cooled rear seats.
It cost £70,000. Today, you can pick one up with 27,000 miles on the clock for £30,000, or with 100,000 miles for £16,000. This 2600kg Range Rover will consume diesel at the rate of 30mpg but, when occasion demands, launch itself from 0-62mph in just 7.5sec. If you’ve got some heavy towing to do or you just like arriving stirred but not shaken, it’s the SUV of your dreams.
Or nightmares. The thing is, an L322 is a complicated beast with ill-matched mechanicals. Without expert, preventative maintenance, they can fail – expensively.
For example, regardless of which engine it has, the L322 has an appetite for gearboxes. They’re all automatics: the first, a five-speed from launch to 2005, then a six-speed and, from 2010 on diesel models only, an eight-speed. The ZF five-speed and GM six are by far the most troublesome and let go from around 85,000 miles. They’re ‘sealed for life’ units but while that boast helped keep the lid on service costs in the vehicle’s first three years, beyond that they do like fresh fluids and filters, and should then be more reliable.
Cars from launch to around 2006 were the subject of a technical service bulletin (TSB) to check and upgrade the front diff and driveshafts, which had been wearing out prematurely. Chances are the L322 you’re interested in has had the work done but check anyway.
That was a technical bulletin, but the L322 was also the subject of numerous safety recalls, all listed on the DVSA’s website. Again, most vehicles will have been rectified, but all the same, the list makes uncomfortable reading.
Now back to the good news. The big headline is the L322’s engines are far less troublesome. It was launched with a choice of BMW units: a 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel and a 4.4-litre V8 petrol. In 2006, the diesel was replaced by a more powerful 3.6 diesel V8 (badged the TDV8) and the petrol by a 4.4-litre V8, both Jaguar engines. At the same time, the supercharged 4.2 AJV8 from the Jaguar XK8 joined the lineup. If economy isn’t your priority, this is the engine to have. Prices for a 2006 4.2 Supercharged start at £6000 (see the one we found below).
In 2009, the 4.2 became a 5.0-litre while the 3.6 TDV8 morphed into a 4.4 with smarter turbocharging and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Trims range from well-equipped HSE to 10-star Autobiography. There are hundreds of used L322s for sale, most of them diesels. Target not only those with full service history, but also proof of recall and TSB rectification, and drivetrain and suspension refurbishment. Then enjoy the high life for low(ish) money.
An expert’s view
Tony Hooper, workshop manager, Hereford 4X4: “I’m a former Land Rover master technician and have owned 16 Range Rovers. My favourite was an L322 3.6 TD. I bought it because the owner had spent £28,000 over 10 years having it serviced! I thought I couldn’t go wrong and I was right – it was a peach. The L322 is the best Range Rover. It’s a ‘proper’ one – a full-blown off-road vehicle but with luxurious on-road manners. It’s a bulky, solid thing where later ones feel plasticky. The best one was the Westminster. However, some of them would let rain water in at the roof seams. It would run into the boot on the left hand side and wreck the audio control system. If you’re buying a Westminster, check there first.”
Engine: Beware whining turbos and injector misfires on the 3.0 TD. The 3.6 TD can suffer turbo actuator issues. Check the water pump was replaced at the cambelt change. On the 4.2, listen for a rattle at idle from the supercharger. Inspect for exhaust wear and check the catalytic converter isn’t breaking up.
Cooling system: Check the coolant expansion tank. The 4.4 petrol suffers failed O-ring seals at the water jacket housing behind the engine, causing overheating and coolant leaks into the gearbox.
Gearbox: Big trouble is possible. Warning signs are stubborn changes accompanied by dashboard lights. Disregarding the ‘sealed for life’ sticker and regular fluid and filter changes will help. On early cars, check it was recalled for fitment of a CV joint on the front propshaft.
Suspension and brakes: Check the air suspension scrolls the three height settings noiselessly, and that the bellows aren’t leaking (park the car and see if it sinks). Scrutinise workshop bills to see when the air compressor was checked or replaced. Listen for the front wishbones knocking under braking. Listen for the rear hub bushes clonking over bumps. Check brake disc and pad life.
Body: Inspect the underside for off-road damage and the tailgate for rust – and damage from people sitting on it.
Interior: Test all the switches and buttons. Also worth knowing Have a technician run a diagnostic check on the one you’re considering. Get it done before and after the test drive. Google the codes to find out what they mean. It’s worth it – some faults can be fixed, only to return later.
How much to spend
£2500-£4995: Early 4.4s and 3.0 TDs to the first high-mileage 3.6 TDs (2007-reg).
£5000-£9995: Still early cars but mileages closer to 120k. Many more 2007 3.6 TDs from around £7950 with around 100k miles.
£10,000-£14,995: More 2008-on 3.6 TDs and the first 2010 4.4 TDs from £12,250.
£15,000-£19,995: The last 2009/10-reg 3.6 TDs plus the first 2009-reg 5.0 V8s. More 2011/12- reg 4.4 TDs with 90k miles at £17,995.
£20,000-£29,995: A choice of 2012 Westminster 4.4 TDs.
One we found
Range Rover 4.2 V8 Supercharged Vogue SE, 2006, 106K miles, £6000: Yes, it’s the super-thirsty one (around 13mpg) but the Jaguar-sourced engine puts a serious spring in its step. Has full Land Rover service history and, crucially, a recently refurbished supercharger and gearbox.
Source: Autocar Online