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When Land Rover built the final Defender at the end of 2015, it may have looked as though it had driven straight out of the 1940s, but under that boxy skin was a car that had been constantly updated over the years. It was still noisy, slow, thirsty and agricultural, but if you're looking for a weekend toy or a tow vehicle which can traverse even the most demanding terrain, the Defender is in a class of its own, while its relative simplicity makes DIY maintenance a breeze. However, you've got to be committed to buy a Defender as just about any rival is more comfortable, refined and high-tech, but somehow the Land Rover's crudity is a large part of its appeal.
When it comes to off-roaders, few have an image stronger or more desirable than a Land Rover. Designed and built to conquer the toughest terrain, SUVs like the Freelander shouldn’t struggle to cope with potholed roads in suburbia. But while the Freelander is a very accomplished family car that is also superb for towing, its sky-high image means bargains are few and far between. As a result you can pay plenty to buy one and thanks to a reliability record that's less than perfect you'll probably find running costs are also high - with things not helped by stiff fuel, road tax and insurance costs. So while there's plenty to like about the Freelander, make sure before you jump in, that you really can afford to own one.
When Land Rover decided to make the Range Rover brand more accessible in 2005, by launching a smaller, sportier edition, there were raised eyebrows. But enthusiasts needn't have worried as the Range Rover Sport was - and still is - supremely capable in the rough, while also providing a great on-road experience. While newer rivals beat the Sport on Tarmac, when it comes to all-round ability few cars can match the junior Range Rover. However, while the Range Rover Sport is a great car to drive, it can be a nightmare to own if you don't do your homework. Many cars have been plagued by poor reliability, while running costs are high - and there's only so much you can do to reduce them. Thirsty engines mean you'll be spending plenty on fuel and road tax, so don't jump into Sport ownership, feet first.
When it comes to enjoying the sense of occasion while driving, few cars can match the feel-good factor offered by the Range Rover. Pricey when new, the cars are costly to buy used and very expensive to run as fuel costs rise. However, there's little to touch Solihull's finest, and if you can afford one we'd definitely recommend it. That's especially so if you're looking for a great tow car - few vehicles are more accomplished at pulling trailers or caravans than the Range Rover.