Hello everyone, and welcome to Letters to Doug, your weekly Jalopnik column wherein someone submits a letter to Doug, and then Doug responds with helpful, reasonable advice that makes the world a better place.
And remember: you, too, can participate in Letters to Doug! Just send me an e-mail at Letters2Doug@gmail.com with your most pressing automotive concern. I will be happy to answer it, or at least laugh at your question in private.
Today’s letter comes to us from someone I’ve decided to call Orson. Orson writes:
Given that you’ve said that the Range Rover is the best car you’ve driven, and also that CarMax has drastically increased the price of the warranty, what would you suggest to someone who’s currently looking to buy a Range Rover?
Before we get started, I want to once again express my sincere gratitude to those of you who signed up the Letters2Doug e-mail address for all sorts of crazy newsletters and mailings. The cleverest among you was whoever signed me up for the Volkswagen AG Investors’ Newsletter, though I must say the joke is on you: I have to click an activation link in order to confirm my subscription, and I have not done so, for fear of getting pelted with diesel fumes.
And now, on to Orson’s question. Although Orson has done a good job of keeping his message succinct, I’ve decided to sum it up anyway: now that CarMax warranties cost so much, how can normal folk purchase a Range Rover?
The short answer, Orson, is that you can’t.
The long answer is a bit longer: you probably can’t.
Allow me to explain. A few months after I started writing about my Range Rover and its CarMax warranty, CarMax decided they didn’t want to keep getting laughed at for offering reasonably priced warranties on a car that costs as much to operate as some Latin American countries.
So they shortened their warranty to five years and they jacked up the price. And I don’t mean they jacked up the price a little. I mean they jacked up the price a lot, to the point where a CarMax Range Rover warranty now costs more than double what I paid for mine in 2012.
The problem with all this is that when I bought my Range Rover, CarMax was really the only game in town offering the kind of warranties they do. Even Land Rover’s own certified pre-owned warranty only covers its vehicles for up to 6 years or 100,000 total miles, whereas my CarMax warranty covers my Range Rover for up to 12 years or 125,000 total miles. This proves that either a) CarMax has more faith in Land Rover’s products than Land Rover itself, or b) CarMax’s Land Rover warranty is subsidized by the little old lady who buys a six-year warranty on a 2009 Altima, even though she only drives to the hair salon and back. I’m going to go with B.
But now that CarMax is charging so much for its warranties, your average hardworking middle class American consumer who just wants to purchase one highly unreliable ultra-luxury SUV has few choices. The best option for drivers wanting a used Range Rover appears to be opening a bank account, filling it with your life savings and your childrens’ college fund, and asking your parents for an advance on your inheritance.
And this leads us to Orson’s question, which is: what now?
Well, Orson, here’s what you do now: you buy an automobile that actually works properly.
Over the last few months, I’ve been intimating that I might consider a Toyota Land Cruiser when my Range Rover warranty finally ends, and I’ve thought about it so much that I went and test-drove one a few weeks ago. And here’s what I discovered: the Land Cruiser is pretty damn cool.
It’s got more power than my Range Rover, it’s got more stuff than my Range Rover, and by God it’ll last longer than my Range Rover. A lot longer. The Land Cruiser is so reliable that if Lewis and Clark had one on their trip west, they wouldn’t have needed Sacajawea. Hell, they wouldn’t have needed Clark. Lewis could’ve done the whole thing with the Land Cruiser and a couple bags of Doritos.
And the Land Cruiser is not the only option. There’s also a wide range of other reliable luxury SUV choices, like the Lexus LX 570, and the Infiniti QX80, and the Cadillac Escalade, and the GMC Yukon Denali, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit Laredo Everest Ceiling Fan.
However: if you are absolutely certain you want a Range Rover, I can’t say I blame you. It’s a beautiful, excellent, enjoyable car with a fantastic seating position, and a wonderful interior, and a tremendous driving experience. But before you make the purchase, I suggest taking a thorough test drive that gives you the entire Land Rover experience. Here’s how you do it: go on down to your local Land Rover dealer and take the car for a spin. And then, when you get back, take a hundred-dollar bill out of your wallet and light it on fire.
If you are still pleased with your Range Rover experience when the bill has fully burned to a crisp, then I strongly suggest going through with the purchase. Only then can you be sure that you won’t regret it.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.