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Why Am I The Only Person Who Uses a Range Rover Like This?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

I recently had the opportunity to take my Range Rover off-road. Seriously off-road. So far off-road that I had to close the sunroof because mud kept getting inside.

The result of all this off-roading was that my Range Rover was covered in mud, all up the sides, and over the windows, and across the windshield. And when you drive a Range Rover that's completely covered in mud, here's what happens: People stare at you. They look at you, and gawk, and gape, and they truly think you are among the strangest people in the world. Nobody looks at muddy Jeeps like this. But if you have a Range Rover and it's covered in mud, people stare at you like you've just told them that your favorite midday drink is contact solution.

Which leads me to a question: Am I the only person who uses a Range Rover like this?

You're probably thinking that yes, I am the only one. But why?

Take a look at the photos above. In the first one, you have a picture of my car covered in mud. But there's also a picture in there of my car covered in scratches: deep gouges all over the paint that I'll probably never be able to satisfactorily buff out. This, I'm assuming, is why you'll say that nobody ever takes Range Rovers off-road. I've ruined it! I've destroyed its beautiful luxury car exterior finish! How will I ever live with myself?

And I understand this argument if we're discussing a new Range Rover -- but...mine is practically worthless. I think it's worth around $9,000 on a good day; a very good day; the kind of day where the stock market has hit record highs and wealthy people are simply throwing $100 bills from the rooftops. This is maybe a quarter of the value of the average Jeep Wrangler I see on trails whenever I'm off-roading. And probably an even smaller fraction if you include all the crazy parts those Jeep people add to make their Jeeps slightly better off-road and far, far worse on the pavement. So what's the fear?

I'm no longer afraid -- and I'm glad I'm not, because my Range Rover is actually a fantastic off-road vehicle. I can raise and lower the suspension, giving it more than 10 inches of ground clearance, which is more than enough to clear the vast majority of obstacles. I have a "hill descent control" system that automatically modulates the brakes on a downhill slope so I don't have to constantly press them and overheat them. And I have good approach and departure angles and a capable all-wheel drive system.

And here's the other thing: It's comfortable. Every time I go off-roading, I see people in lifted Jeeps and 4Runners that probably cost them several thousand dollars before they added several thousand more in parts. In my Range Rover, I have heated seats, and leather seats, and power seats, and a lovely surround sound system, and an automatic sunroof, and a navigation system. In other off-roading vehicles, people are lucky to have air conditioning.

Now, I admit, part of the reason people don't usually off-road in the Range Rover is probably because there are concerns about reliability -- and I've had my fair share of issues. But let's be honest: When you get into the world of modded XJ Cherokees with cut fenders, and Land Cruisers with a 6-inch lift and dozens of aftermarket parts from a variety of vendors, and Wranglers that have been through seven owners, each of whom added a different level of modifications.... Are any of these vehicles really all that reliable? Nobody who's tackling trails is really doing it in a Camry, people.

I understand that the Range Rover is an unusual off-roading car -- but I really think it shouldn't be. I now take it off the pavement every month or two, in varying degrees of severity, and I've truly enjoyed my experience. And I hope that someday, when I bring it to an off-roading park or when I'm out on a trail, I happen upon another Range Rover out there, covered in just as much mud as mine.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Why Am I The Only Person Who Uses a Range Rover Like This? - Autotrader