In this paper we investigate the robustness of age measurements, age spreads, and stellar models in young pre-main sequence stars. For this effort, we study a young cluster, $\lambda$ Orionis, within the Orion star-forming complex. We use Gaia data to derive a sample of 357 targets with spectroscopic temperatures from spectral types or from the automated spectroscopic pipeline in APOGEE Net. After accounting for systematic offsets between the spectral type and APOGEE temperature systems, the derived properties of stars on both systems are consistent. The complex ISM, with variable local extinction, motivates a star-by-star dereddening approach. We use a spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting method calibrated on open clusters for the Class III stars. For the Class II population, we use a Gaia G-RP dereddening method, minimizing systematics from disks, accretion, and other physics associated with youth. The cluster age is systematically different in models incorporating the structural impact of starspots or magnetic fields than in nonmagnetic models. Our mean ages range from 2-3 Myr (nonmagnetic models) to 3.9$\pm$0.2 Myr in the SPOTS model (f=0.34). We find star-by-star dereddening methods distinguishing between pre-MS classes provide a smaller age spread than techniques using a uniform extinction, and infer a minimum age spread of 0.19 dex and a typical age spread of 0.35 dex after modelling age distributions convolved with observed errors. This suggests that the $\lambda$ Ori cluster may have a long star formation timescale and that spotted stellar models significantly change age estimates for young clusters.