Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An SUV Fit for a King

My first car in high school was a 1986 Chevy Spectrum that was handed down to me from my mom.  It was maroon with black plastic bumpers, maroon cloth interior (dash, carpet, steering wheel, and all), and sported a little 4 banger making about 80 bHP.  My favorite part about that car was that it was a manual transmission… but that’s all!  Oh, and did I mention it didn't have power steering, ABS, power windows or even a radio!  I was lucky enough that it had a seat belt.

I am fortunate that I've come a long way since my first car nearly 24 years ago.  I just turned 40 this weekend and have been blessed in many ways; from beautiful healthy children to a great career that affords me the opportunity to do things I enjoy.  I’m also blessed with great friends…. that afford me the opportunity to kick the tires of some really kick-ass cars!  For example, last week the guys at eCarOne gave me access to a car that I have always wanted to drive but never really thought about owning.  For a full week, I had the chance to daily drive a 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE.  This car had it all… it was finished in a beautiful combination of metallic black exterior with ivory interior, had the luxury package, rear DVD, and a bunch of other bells and whistles that no Range Rover would be complete without.

The reason I say that I have always wanted to drive it but never thought about owning it is in itself a statement that needs some further elaboration.  You see, to me and perhaps to many others, a Land Rover is not exactly a value proposition.  In general, late model Land Rovers (Range Rover and other models) are expensive relative to their competitors (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus) and in terms of value, they do not offer all the luxury appointments for the same price point.  You may say “So what, who cares about value… it’s a Land Rover.”  Your statement would be correct, but remember this is an SUV we’re talking about.  In the SUV segment, most buyers are seeking good value.  This is not a sports car or a weekend toy… it’s a Utility vehicle and oftentimes value is high on the priority list for SUV buyers.
With that said…. The whole value proposition changes when you look at slightly used Range Rovers.  In just three years, this car has depreciated about 50% of its original purchase price.  As eCarOne is offering this car at about $50k, now it makes much more sense to buy it if you are looking for value.

On the other hand, if you drive this car, you will not be thinking about value while you’re smiling from ear to ear at how this car makes you feel while you’re behind the wheel.  I absolutely loved driving this car.  This really is no comparison to any other driving experience.  I can say that with all due honesty because I truly do not place value high on my priority list when it comes to cars.  I would much rather enjoy my car in every way than worry about resale value or bang for the buck.  A car to me is not an investment… it’s a cost and for me it’s an important part of my day and of my overall life experience.  Hence, I don’t seek value when I’m purchasing a car as I do when I’m evaluating a possible financial investment.

Case in point, I purchased a 2014 Maserati new just five months ago.  Now, less than 4,000 miles later that car is probably worth $15k less than I paid for it.  Many folks out there would call me crazy… so be it but is it crazy to spend $100 on a bottle of wine or $200 on dinner or $500 on a pair of Lakers tickets?  How long do any of those experiences last?  To each his own, right?

Now, let’s get back to the Range Rover.  I already briefly stated that I loved it, but let me elaborate.  In comparison to my Maserati Ghibli, the Range Rover Sport does not offer the most bang for your buck when compared to its competitors.  For what I paid for the Ghibli, I could have purchased a much more powerful AMG E63, a BMW M5, or even a Porsche Panamera 4S.  However, none of those cars would have given me the overall experience of owning and driving an Italian luxury sports sedan with such a rich history linked to none other than Ferrari.  By the same token, the Range Rover is a great car for the same money, you could buy a fully optioned out BMW X5 5.0 that is much faster, has more bells and whistles and much for suited for daily street driving than the Rover.  However, you would not be driving a piece of history and an iconic off road vehicle.  Land Rover only makes SUVs and makes them better than anyone else out there.  Land Rovers are internationally recognized as the crème de la crème of SUVs; at home in the African jungle as well as escorting European royalty to the most prestigious events.

I’m not going to go into much detail about this car.  I don’t need to.  If you want value and bang for your buck, then you can’t go wrong with a Lexus GX460 but if you want the pure enjoyment of driving an SUV that makes you feel like royalty, then take this car for a test drive and you’ll understand what I mean.

Thanks for reading and happy driving.