Today’s subject is the first time a Range Rover appears in the series. We’ve come as close as a Discovery badged as the Honda Cro$$road previously, but today’s truck is much more special.
It’s a 1 of 20 G4 Challenge.
In part I of II on this Rare Ride, we’ll talk generally about the Range Rover’s third album. The L322 Range Rover replaced the very short-lived P36 generation for the 2002 model year, except in North America. Much like the S-Class seen here recently, the old P36 lived on in North America an additional year and was not replaced by the L322 until ’03.
Developed while Land Rover was under BMW ownership, the flagship SUV was designed to share many important bits with the late Nineties 7-Series sedan. BMW was not pleased with the P36 Range Rover when they took over and determined it would never live on as long as the original Classic. The P36 was developed while Rover was under British Aerospace ownership – another company strapped for cash. Though it looked more modern, the “new” P36 was actually a development of the Classic. And there were other needs within Land Rover as well: The Discovery, also from the early Nineties, was due for replacement around the same time. But that project was shelved in order to give development dollars fully to the Range Rover. Discovery lived on via refresh (albeit a pretty good one) as Discovery II.
In short order, BMW replaced Land Rover’s management with its own and dumped cash into the needy brand’s pockets to develop the new Range Rover. By the time the new one went on sale though, Land Rover had swapped its blue Roundel ownership for a Blue Oval. So in 2002, Ford launched a British truck full of components it had to buy from BMW. The Land Rover sale agreement from BMW to Ford included provisions that BMW would continue involvement in the new Range Rover until it had time to enter full production.
One of the aforementioned BMW components at launch included a 4.4-liter V8 engine, eventually replaced by a 4.4-liter Jaguar unit shared with the Lincoln LS. There were also Jaguar 4.2 (supercharged) and 5.0 (naturally aspirated) engines available, depending on the year. Diesel power was provided by BMW or Ford, in displacements ranging between 2.9 and 4.4 liters. Mixing things up a bit more, a five-speed GM automatic was Range Rover’s initial motivator (diesel versions used an automatic ZF), later replaced with either six- or eight-speed ZF boxes.
The third Range Rover existed in its initial guise through the 2005 model year. By then, Ford had time to come to terms with ownership of the Land Rover brand and introduced a big update of the L322 at NAIAS. Changes for 2006 included a visual refresh, a switch to Ford and Jaguar engines, and new infotainment. Most new bits were sourced from Jaguar, the Discovery III, or the Range Rover Sport.
The L322 lived on through the 2012 model year and was replaced by the all-new L405 version which persists today. By 2012 and the new Range Rover’s debut, Ford was long done with Land Rover and Jaguar. They sold both brands to Indian firm Tata in 2008, which subsequently combined the companies into Jaguar-Land Rover. Basics of this Range Rover covered, we’ll talk G4 and special edition things in Part II.