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Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?

Who will win? Comfort vs capability! Speed vs determination! British vehicle built by Ford vs.... British vehicle built by Ford... Truly a fight of the ages! ...or at least however long it takes you to read this.



I’ve got a work trip coming up in August. Due to some pandemic thing I haven’t heard about before just now, we’re allowed (but not required) to drive if we’re within a “two day” drive of the location. Additionally despite being a three week trip, I’m not slated to have a rental car and am to “share” with those that do (there are like 14 of us and maybe 6 cars).


This is not my style.

I’m going to drive.

And I’m going to drive one of my cars.

But which one?

With my sensible pants on it would be the Volvo. It is quiet, quick, comfortable, newer than the rest by at least 10 years, and has good range and mileage.


But the is Oppo and when it comes to cars I almost never have my sensible pants on... or pants at all really.

I’ve already entertained buying a car for this trip...


... but the only one that tickled me was getting a 1st gen Honda Insight and with gas hovering around $2/gallon this doesn’t seem like the time.

Edit: Taylor wanted me to point out I also had almost exactly this debate a few years back when we drove out to the Trinity Site for a long weekend.


Again there the Volvo was the correct solution, though I did miss out on a lot of good overlanding and some epic photos.


We’ve also played this game before, right before we all stopped traveling and leaving the house for some reason.


The solution there was, of course, Volvo. And it was the right one!

But things have changed. The Jag is done with its deep maintenance cycle and the open road is calling it. I’d like to do (at least) one road trip in the Jag before I sell it and this seems like as good of an opportunity as any! Additionally while I could only speculate on the offroading available near the location of the last trip, I know there is good offroading near the location for this one.


Anyway... mission parameters:

  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Distance: 1600 miles (not including commute)
  • Drive days: 4 (two there, two back)
  • Destination: Southern New Mexico
  • Reimbursement: $0.575/mile
  • Climate: “Monsoon Season”
  • Weekends Free: Yes

Hey Akio you should put more stuff here before publishing!!! Edit: Nah I’m good. Send it.


What about the Jaguar?

My 2004 Jaguar S-Type R, nicknamed The Hot Mess, is the newest addition to the fleet. Powered by a 400+HP supercharged 4.2L V8 it has a deep rumble, a high pitched whine, and a lot of go. Finished in the correct green, the Jag has benefited from a recent deep service including all belts, hoses, etc.


Now this is not to say the Jag is not without needs, but we’ll get to those later.

Jag Pros

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?

The Jag is a joy to drive and superb on the highway. It eats up the miles in quiet and comfort exactly as I would expect from a Ford Jaguar. The cabin is quiet, the power is intoxicating, and the gas mileage... well it isn’t GREAT but it isn’t bad.

Speaking of range, on my only long trip I averaged 22.2 MPG with an average speed of 73 MPH. Not bad! With an 18.4 gallon tank, that gives me a theoretical range of 408 miles between fill ups. Unknown if the recent service (plugs and stuff) and the recent upgrades (intake and uprated supercharger pulley) will make that mileage go up or down, so I must assume it’ll be the same for this comparison. Unfortunately the Jag, like the Land Rover, takes premium unleaded, which certainly puts a dent in the wallet.


As mentioned above this would also be a good opportunity to give the Jag a little mini-adventure that it so needs.

Jag Cons

The biggest negative associated with the Jag is that it is an unknown. I haven’t owned it for long, I haven’t driven it much (aside from the 400 miles to get it home) and I’m not sure if I can or should trust it. I mean... in a way that is a plus. I like doing that sort of thing. But also this is work not pleasure and while I do have a contingency plan in mind, I’d rather not worry.


I’m also not sure about taking the Jag, a high performance rear-wheel-drive sedan, to the desert in “Monsoon Season”. Though renting anything larger than a compact car is usually against company policy, those that are getting rentals were told to get 4x4s and explicitly forbidden from getting pickup trucks due to safety concerns. I was never told the reason why but, again, “Monsoon Season” seems like it would have something to do with it.

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?
Photo: Medium

Jag Required Repairs

Despite my recent work, the Jag is still not perfect. Primarily it needs new shocks. Definitely in the back, but probably also in the front. At $320 per corner* that is going to HURT to do, plus changing them will be my first time compressing springs, which is 100% terrifying.


*Note: As part of drafting this article I went to check the price on RockAuto and found he rears were on sale. So I guess what I am saying is either this article cost me $540 or saved me $100, depending on how you look at it. 

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?

Other than that.... well it could use a tint... maybe. It looks pretty good untined from the factory, but I think a minor (30%) tint would go a long way for comfort and possibly also looks.

But unless my radio problems come back she is good to go!

What about The Land Rover?

My 2001 Land Rover Discovery II SE7 is a vehicle, above all else, that will go everywhere and only complain a little. The Land Rover has been with me since I bought it during a “cheap car challenge” in 2017. I’ve done a lot of offroading in my Disco, including bombing around New Mexico over new years in the long long ago 2019/2020. I love and (mostly) trust this car. Powered by a study but a touch anemic 4.0L naturally aspirated V8 the Disco produces just 188 horsepower, sending it to all four wheels.

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?


The Land Rover is a known entity. Even if I didn’t trust it, I’ve been all over it. I have as high of confidence as I can in my ability to address any issues that crop up.


Primarily though, New Mexico has a lot of good offroading/ overlanding in the area and the Land Rover is the right vehicle for that job. Also it should readily handle any mud, rain, flooding, or sand I run into for work or otherwise. I have no idea what the maximum fording depth of the Jag is, but I do know the fording depth of the Landy. Additionally there is a medium possibility a friend of mine may drive up and go offroading over the weekend too, which would be nifty. Though I could also always ride along.

Illustration for article titled Jaguar vs Land Rover - Which to drive 1600 miles?


The Land Rover is not bad on the highway. It tracks true, doesn’t slow down over hills, is plenty comfortable, and the cruise control works. It can cruise at 85 all day every day and be...fine. But it is hardly effortless at this task. Cruising is all well and good, but overtaking, passing, or getting back up to speed the ancient V8 does... fine. However, the Disco is not the best on the highway. I’d say ranking my cars on highway driving, best to worst: Jag, Volvo, Saab*, Disco, Alfa... and the Alfa only because it lacks cruise control and is a soft top.


*It has been a very long time since I’ve had the Saab on the highway but it was my daily driver for years and I don’t remember having troubles.

Additionally for taking a car into “monsoon season” the Disco isn’t totally... waterproof. Mostly the roof rack lets water in when it rains hard. This isn’t a huge deal and is fixable, but the headliner is new and it gives me a sad to be ruining it so readily.


Also with the new tires the Disco’s fuel mileage isn’t bad for the size and shape of it, but 16.7 MPG average is, indeed, less than the Jag’s 22.2 MPG. Both, as mentioned, take premium so they’re even there. Though assuming in the middle of summer I’ll get the same MPGs as I did in the middle of winter.... which I won’t.... the Discovery can theoretically go 434 miles on its 26 gallon tank, which is slightly more than the Jag. However even with a completely limp fuel gauge I’ve only ever managed to put 22ish gallons in the Discovery, so its functional range isn’t as good as I’m not one to push it.

Required Repairs

The Discovery doesn’t need anything... but it want for some stuff.

The brakes haven’t been bled in about three years and could probably use doing.

The front brake pads are due for a change.

The rear door lock actuators need to be replaced.

The parking brake needs to be adjusted.

The roof rack leaks water and fixing it requires dropping the headliner.

The steering dampener needs to be replaced.

All four shocks are questionable.

The u-joints need to be greased.

There is an odd vibration while engine braking.

There is a lot of unaddressed hail damage.

But the only thing that I’d really want to do before setting off would be refitting the driver’s side door. I did the passenger before the last trip and it helped with wind noise immensely. I can only imagine doing the same to the driver’s side would help a lot too.


Also also fix the water leak...


I’ve said a lot of words here, but realistically what it comes down to is:

  1. Do I trust the Jag?
  2. Will I go offroading while I’m there?
  3. How bad is monsoon season?

And I think the answer is (1) mostly and (2) probably not. The third is a little sticky, but I still think it is fine? If I averaged 73 MPH in a snow storm with a bad alignment and odd tires I don’t see heavy rain being a huge deal. (famous last words)


I’m thinking unless the boys can guilt me into taking the Land Rover the Jaaaaag may have this one.

What does Oppo think?

(A note on rental cars: I number of you have concerns about driving a personally owned vehicle on a long work trip. I respect that opinion and the reasons for it, but renting a car is not up for debate at this time.)

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