May 23, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 13 May 2010 09:47
In the spirit of full disclosure, we must acknowledge we once owned a Land Rover Discovery, predecessor to the 2010 LR4 we test-drove recently. Our female driver, who often drove the rugged, midsize SUV in foul weather, loved the car. Our male driver mostly focused on its execrable fuel economy, high repair costs and ungainly handling. He hated it.Now owned by Tata Motors of India, Land Rover has stepped up its game in a big way. The British-built LR4, which replaces the 2009 LR3, looks a lot like the old Discovery; if anything, it’s even more angular. The iconic roofline skylights are gone. But the view forward is almost unchanged since the mid-1990s, and the new model retains many of the character traits of its predecessor. But it has more than double the horsepower of the original Discovery and delivers about the same fuel economy. And it’s quieter, smoother and more refined.
The reviews are largely positive. One test-driver wondered if Land Rover would regret not pricing this the LR4 a little higher than its $47,250 base level. Consumer Reports magazine, which has been unkind to past Land Rovers, rated it superior to the Lincoln MKT and Audi Q7 in head-to-head tests. The verdict? “Dramatically improved.”
So what’s special about the LR4? First, it is just as off-road-capable as the old Discovery; its V-8 engine has an ample dose of Jaguar DNA and churns out 375 horsepower; and it’s quite civilized around town and on the interstate highway. It also has a third seat, so it can transport seven. And its interior accommodations are far superior to those of earlier Land Rovers.
Our LR4 included three high-priced option packages that brought its sticker price to $62,665: rear seat entertainment, $2,500; special paint, $950; and, for the price of a Korean subcompact car, seven-seat LUX Plus package that included premium lighting, navigation system, audio and other advanced electronics. But even the base model comes with leather upholstery, genuine walnut trim, cruise control, sunroof and automatic climate control.
Unlike our old Discovery, which had a swing-out, one-piece tailgate, The LR4 has a convenient clamshell setup. But the cargo area was too shallow to accept a child’s electric car without dropping all of the rear and middle seats. With a child in the car, this was impossible, so we had to leave the toy car behind.
Safety and reliability data are not yet available on this new model. Its fuel-economy rating is 12 mpg city, 17 highway, on premium gasoline.
Back in the day, the Discovery’s target audience was people with a mind to put their SUV through its paces in the mountains and forests. With the LR4, that’s still in play, but if fuel economy isn’t an issue — some competitors in this segment creep into the mid-20s, on regular gasoline — one need not dream of vigorous off-road driving to enjoy this SUV’s capabilities.
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8, 375 horsepower, 375 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 5,833 lb.
Ground clearance: 7.3 in.
Suspension: Double wishbone front and rear; self-leveling
Wheels: 19x8 inch alloy
Tires: 255/55R19 111V all-terrain
Seating capacity: 7
Luggage capacity: 42 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 90u. ft.
Towing capacity: 7,716 lb.
Fuel capacity: 22.8 gallons
Fuel economy: 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium
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