Goodbye Land Rover Discovery
There is a saying: "All good things must come to an end". And that time has come for our Land Rover Discovery, albeit 1 year early.
We took out a 3 year lease back in July 2019 with a view to buying the vehicle outright for the residual value at the end of the term if we liked it and didn't have much in the way of trouble with it, although we'd also extend the warranty to 7 years just to be safe. While it hasn't been fault free, we have had a check engine light and a leaking windshield, we can overlook these issues as actual reliability hasn't been a problem and it's been a really great vehicle. The air suspension is smooth, the seats are amongst the best I've ever experienced for long road trips, it's quiet, the cargo carrying ability is cavernous and when you get in and close the door you feel like you're sitting in a bank vault. Everything looks and feels solid and luxurious. It's like buying a Range Rover but getting a third off the price. And this is before we consider the off-road ability of this machine (although sadly we never got a chance to try out) which gives you the confidence that any issue you reasonably encounter will not stop you, after all, 3 foot floods would not be a problem.
Any negatives? I struggle to find any. It's a little heavy on fuel averaging around 19mpg in the city and 23mpg@75mph on the highway, and it requires premium, but at Texas prices that's not really a problem. The infotainment works well but can be just a little laggy, especially the navigation part which takes at least a minute to boot-up. The sound system is ok at best despite being the optional upgraded one. The maintenance costs are high, even a basic annual maintenance consisting of little more than an oil change is over $500 and consumables such as brakes could be $1,500 to $2,000 easily and may need doing every couple of years depending on your mileage. But we already knew all this before we got into it.
So if there have been no real problems or
disappointments and we've been so impressed with the vehicle why the
change of plan? In fact, why such an extreme change of plan where we
don't even keep it for the full 3 years of the lease?
Primarily it's due to the pandemic. Even though we are now hopefully coming out of the other end of that and with a vehicle with fewer miles on it than we anticipated, a lot of things have changed. One thing is the number of miles I suspect I will drive going forward. Simply put, I have been working from home now for over 12 months and have thoroughly enjoyed it. In the future this arrangement will either continue or transition to a policy of a couple of days a week in the office with the remainder continuing to be from home. The office I was working out of 5 days per week has in fact closed, and the new office is half the distance. Essentially I had a 36 mile round trip to work which amounted to around 8,500 miles per year for my commuting. Assuming I actually go into the new office 2 days per week I'll be down to around 1,500 miles per year in commuting. Assuming we do the same 4,000 miles per year of road tripping I'll be at less than 6,000 miles per year total vs over 12,000 miles. As the Land Rover has 16,000/1 year maintenance intervals, the cost per mile for annual maintenance given the miles driven is looking even worse. Long term the same applies to other maintenance items that are also time as well as mileage sensitive. Rubber and seals age whether you drive the vehicle or not, and cars that are rarely driven tend to get more problems as things dry out etc, not to mention that a full tank of gas would last 3 months which isn't far short of what I'm comfortable with given gas goes bad and modern gas with its ethanol mix becomes corrosive.
In addition to the change in my driving habits there is currently a vehicle shortage, primarily due to parts constraints. This means the few new vehicles available are being sold at full list price if not at an additional premium, and this pricing and availability crunch has pushed up the values of used vehicles. In short the Land Rover dealership was prepared to not only pay off the remainder of the lease for me, but also hand me a check for thousands of dollars as they were desperate for vehicle stock and a mint example just 2 years old in a very high specification in a popular color with super low miles would be irresistible to their customers.
So we took them up on their offer and walked away with cash in hand as once this shortage is over the same would be true for any such windfall.
Naturally we are now down to one vehicle in the household but, due to the pandemic that's all we need for the next few months. So while we're also in the market for a new vehicle and could face the same problems as everyone else we don't need to overpay as we can afford to wait. And there is one vehicle we can get with no markup and a delivery time that fits our needs, but more on that next time...