If enough snow fell to cover a family of dwarves, what's the one car you would want parked in your driveway? A Land Rover. Without a doubt, no other brand is able to combine practicality, functionality and great form better than the British marquee. Everyone loves the top of the line, Range Rover, but what about the other models? Are they as luxurious and capable when taken off the paved path? To find out, we headed up to Vermont with Land Rover to drive the range of the Ranges and came away pretty damn impressed. Especially with the middle of the road, LR4. The update to the LR3 (and, if you wanna go back, the Discovery), the LR4 hits the sweet spot in the Land Rover line up. Read on to find out why...
PRICE: (base) $48,100
POWER: 5.0 L, 375 hp, 375 ft-lb V8
MPG: 12 city/17 mpg
RIDE: Land Rover's are known for primarily two things: their off-road prowess and a luxuriousness that straight up belies the former. Hopping into the LR4 it's easy to believe that it can drive as smoothly as it does. On a smooth stretch of road, it glides. It weighs around 200 pounds less than its big brother, the Range Rover, but the lack of heft doesn't make it feel any less substantial. For the LR4, Land Rover improved the shocks and the suspension. There's a stiffer roll bar, which makes it feel a little more together through turns. Take it off road, like we did, and thanks to the Terrain Response (see below) and the Dynamic Stability control which applies the brakes to wheels in need, it eats gravel, snow and whatever other unfavorable conditions you toss its way. You're driving it, saying to yourself, "This car shouldn't be able to do this."
EXTERIOR: For the LR4, Land Rover simply nip, tucked and sharped the lines of the LR3. The headlights are new, as is the bumper and grill. For those that didn't know, the LR is known as the Discovery in other parts of the world, hence why the body shape is so similar to the old Disco. It's finds a nice balance between not being a big, obtrusive SUV, and not being a small, soccer mom-ish crossover.
INTERIOR: Remember the luxuriousness, we were talking about up top? Yeah, it's the interior that really represents it. While not as luxe as the top of the line Range Rover, the LR4 comes off more sporty and, basically, more young. You don't feel like you're driving a car way out of your league when you're behind the wheel of the LR4. The new steering wheel allows you control all the media functions in the car: audio, Bluetooth telephone, cruise control, etc. And like all Land Rovers, your seating position is king status. High up and commanding.
TECH: Land Rover's are as technologically advanced as their plush. For 2010, LR has updated their patented Terrain Response traction technology. TR allows you to simply turn a knob and select the terrain you're traveling across—tarmac, gravel, sand, snow, and rocks—have the car program its traction control, suspension and gearing to the optimal settings to get you across safely. To help with parking, you can get the LR4 with a rear view camera or a surround camera system, the latter giving you a 360 degree view helping when you're in less that desirable conditions and trying to park in a tight space. Also new, for '10 is the TFT info screen in the dash. In the Range Rover, the entire gauge cluster is a customizable TFT screen, but in the LR4, you only get a TFT screen between the tach and speedo. Still cool, though.
SUMMARY: The LR4 finds a nice balance between the Range Rover and the LR2. Featuring most of the tech and off-road ability, with some youthful sportiness, and a design that doesn't scream out, "I couldn't afford the Range!"