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2010 Land Rover LR4 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Wanting to sample the latest iteration of Land Rover's middle-management cruiser, we set off in search of the 2010 LR4's natural environment. Minutes later, the Rover's new 5.0-liter, 375-horsepower V8 led us to Nordstrom. What? You expected Monument Valley?

With the wallet-denting expedition complete, we took solace in the luxuriously updated interior during the homeward jaunt. Sybaritic pleasures and tried-and-true off-roading abilities are the extremes of its range, so how does the LR4 fare in the middle?

Photos by Dan Roth / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Unmistakably a Land Rover, the LR4 comes in for an exceedingly subtle outward metamorphosis. Look (very) hard and you'll notice the reworked grille and fascia. There's also a larger intake in the restyled front bumper, which itself has been reshaped to enhance aerodynamics – not that the LR4's squared-off look screams "wind tunnel-tested." New headlamps, LED taillamps, a trio of new paint colors and new 19- and 20-inch wheel designs round out the exterior tweaks. No one's complaining about the conservative approach to the visual facelift; iconic styling is an asset changed at your own peril.

Inside, Solihull has lavished substantial attention on the LR4 accommodations. The dashboard and center stack have been cleanly restyled and simplified, exorcising many of the buttons that used to clutter up the space. Much like the exterior, changes to the dashboard and controls are refinements rather than revolutionary alterations. Things are generally where they were in the LR3, but the materials and design are vastly improved. Some elements, like the new piano black accent that extends from the lower center stack and extends back to surround the shifter, may be in vogue, but it's dastardly to keep free of smudged fingerprints.

The relocation plan moves the controls for the updated Terrain Response into a more logical location by the shifter. Thanks to the upgraded materials, Range Rover drivers will feel right at home when they get an LR4 loaner at the service department. Front and second-row seating is revised, and HSE buyers can choose the Premium Leather Pack and its electrically-adjustable seat bolstering. The third row is still coach-class, largely the domain of priveleged brats, but grown-ups do fit more easily than in some other three-row vehicles with a similar footprint.

The interior refit pays off by improving the LR4's driving experience. Were it not for the obscene amount of fuel required to shove a tall, blocky, heavy thing through the air, this would be a nearly ideal vehicle for long-legged journeys. The seating position is high, and visibility is fantastic. The front and middle-row seats are fantastically comfortable, and a heated steering wheel feels decadent on subzero mornings. Equally sublime is an electrically heated windshield, though the squiggly grid can be initially distracting.

The LCD that serves as command center and navigation display is the lone quibble in the interior, and our gripe centers around the software. The user interface is tedious and non-intuitive, though at least the speed of the system is improved over past implementations. A flattening of menu structures would be more welcome, though. Beyond usability complaints, the audio system sounds great and chats nicely with iPods or thumb drives, as well as offering satellite radio. Premium automakers, with their longer development cycles and niche sales numbers, seem to be more afflicted by obtuse electronics than bread-and-butter brands. Land Rover's entire lineup would benefit from a wholesale electronics update.

All in good time, perhaps, as the engine and chassis have just received that kind of fine-tuning, turning the sow-like LR3 into the responsive, nimble LR4. Anti-roll bars have been enlarged, dampers stiffened and a new steering rack is also part of the remix, which perks up the LR4's tiller and makes it respond attentively to driver inputs.

One quick boot of the accelerator pedal delivers results of the most significant upgrade to the LR4. The new 5.0-liter V8 speaks with authority and pushes the LR4 with the assertion to match. With 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, the new NA mill puts out nearly as much as the old supercharged V8. Despite the robust gain in power, direct injection allows a ULEV2 emissions rating, and there's more bandwidth to the power curve. Efficiency is improved too, though the weight of your right foot will be the main determinant in achieving good fuel economy. Variable camshaft timing and a squeezy 11.5:1 compression ratio are directly responsible for the attentive throttle response and refined manners. This new 5.0 is an engine that's Johnny-on-the-spot, has a musclecar-worthy exhaust note and offers a significant power increase over its predecessor without any economy penalty, even with more than a half-liter of extra displacement.

There's also a feeling of solidity to the LR4's structure that comes from its unique mix of monocoque and ladder frame that Land Rover calls Integrated Body Frame. It adds to the curb weight, but building the passenger compartment and engine bay like a unibody vehicle while bolting the drivetrain and suspension to a ladder frame pays off. Doubtless, the weight makes for a comfortable ride, especially since the air suspension is so adaptive and the T-Square bodywork doesn't jiggle or flex noticeably.

As we've described it so far, you might be thinking of the LR4 as a British interpretation of the '88 Caprice Classic wagon. Obviously, that would be patently wrong. Even without attempting the Rubicon, the LR4 lets you smugly comfort yourself with the thought you could go rock crawling if you wanted to. Both on- and off-road, the ride is impressively cloud-like. Off the blacktopped path, the structure doesn't turn into an oscillating chamber of horror, either. Everything stayed put, with just the Jaguar-sourced V8 providing the main soundtrack as we sipped our coffee and tried to avoid high-centering.

In most cases, selecting 4WD while on the fly will suffice, though Land Rover hasn't rested on its serious off-roading laurels. Terrain Response has a new "Sand" mode, as well as tweaked calibrations to account for the new engine and improve its prowess on different surfaces. A lap of the deep snow around the backyard swingset showed off the capability of the system in low-range with the differentials locked. The neighbors were not amused.

A $57,000 family truckster that sucks fuel at the rate of less than 20 miles per gallon isn't always the right choice. There are those that need three rows of seats along with four-wheel drive that's capable of conquering the Himalayas, but all three of those people already have cars. The luxury and style of the LR4, along with the new powertrain and sharpened reflexes are what's going to close sales. It's not the most logical family vehicle, but it's one of the most capable.

Photos by Dan Roth / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish we could get the TDV6 and TDV8 here in America because I really love the LR4 but think that a 5.0L petrol V8 is completely the wrong motor.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just want a Defender. The rest of Land Rover's offerings make me snoozy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Defender is such a awesome name for a car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        :) They are the best!
      • 5 Years Ago
      In owning an automotive repair shop for the past 30 years, I have seen a lot of Land Rovers. Not to mention my father's dealership years ago where he sold "Real Land Rovers, "the OLE 88's & 109's! That was when they built a real vehicle you could rely on! You could keep them going on chewing gum spit and bailing wire! The later ones>>>>>>Very nice until you have owned them for a few years. Then they are great for the shop! I make a lot of money off of them due to the constant component failures that these products suffer from.
      Window regulators failing, climate controls going further south for the summer, Suspension failures where the airbags leak. I have done hundreds of conversions installing conventional springs and shocks after people have reached thier limit of paying through their wazoo on the air suspensions. Although they are nice to drive, you must have deep pockets and a spare vehicle to own one. As far as the latest one in the line up having the most powerful (375 hp V-8 which replaces the very dated copy of the Buick V-8, I can't help but think "will it need a wrecker to follow it around after it is 4 or 5 years old? Toyota's Sequoia 5.7 puts out 381reliable hp and with the factory optional supercharger kit, it pushes the hp up to 524 "RELIABLE" hp. 0 - 60 in 4.8 seconds for a vehicle of that mass is pretty impressive. The supercharger package on the Tundra 0-6 is 4.4 seconds! Considering that the 2010 Camaro SS does 0 - 60 mph in 4.7 seconds it makes for an interesting wolf in sheeps clothing out on the interstates for law enforcment. There are a few small towns which have now replaced thier Yucon's with supercharged Sequoia's that have generated a fair increase in revenue from speeders who thought they could just blow through thier little town. Land Rover's were not on their menu of choices and they need an SUV because of the off road excursions they are called upon as law enforcment doing investigative work.
      The Sequoia 's I have had passing through my shop for service and repairs do not suffer from the problems that the Land Rover does. 0-60 un under 5 seconds for a vehicle of than mass! WOW! If you want an opscale version of the Sequoia? Lexus offers a similar model sporting the same engine. The Land Rover hasn't a chance. You mention the Expedition: I doesn't suffer from anywhere near the problems the land Rover does. SO, if you want a Land Rover just to impress your neighbors, buy a Sequoia and a trailer to load the Land Rover onto so you have a means to bring it to a shop every time it breaks. While your at it, make a side wager with your neighbor who also has a new Land Rover. Bet him that you can beat him to the land Rover dealership with your Land Rover loaded on a trailer beinging pulled by a supercharged Toyota Sequoia!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nordstrom's? How much are they paying you AutoBlog guys?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, we just parked there and went in to some other stores ...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nordstrom's? Is that the one near the Barnes & Nobles and the JC Penny's?
      • 5 Years Ago
      well if you guys in america had the 3.l tdv6 245 bhp 600Nm diesel engine you the get a big 4x4 luxurious and capable with decent mpgs
      anyway LR3/LR4 has nothing to do with ford explorer, never had, completely developed in Uk using a land rover patented body ....... ford explorer is a old fashioned car with independet suspension on front and live axle with leaf springs on the back , all this attached to a conventional separate chassis, it has a intermitent 4 wheel drive system, no lockers whatsoeverr..... so why some of you keep saying lr3 is based on a explorer....
      anyway the land rover lr4 is a great car, but needs more down to earth prices and basic models for the ones who really want to do off road... yes it is capable as it comes, but for those that want to go to the moab they don t need that amount of gadgetery or big wheels, they should have a base model with coil springs and manual lockers and 17 in wheels so it can fit decent off road tires
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should bring back the name Discovery. These alphanumerics are quite ridiculous.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Reads like you went in disliking the LR4. At 57k, it seems pricey, but the larger Range Rover at 80k+ is more for the "priveleged brats" you mentioned. 30 MPG for an off road capable luxury vehicle is not out of the question.
      • 5 Years Ago
      But did they fix the awful reliability?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I had an 05 LR3 up to 98,000 miles, and it was rock solid. Only one minor issue with a defective parking break. Just make sure all the service gets done at a well trained LR dealer or independent shop and you should be fine even with light off roading. Most reliable vehicle I have ever owned, better than my nissans, jeeps and volvo.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Kevin

      You realy dont know annything about landrovers :

      The LR3 and LR4 are the same first of all
      LR4 has new : suspension , engines ,exterior and interior

      The LR3 and LR4 are NOT ford explorers ! BY FAR!
      the Monocoque and ladder chassis are the best!

      u have the strength of a Ladder chassis
      so like a LR Defender you can put a winch on the LR3 and its far more regid in extreme pulling and offroading

      the monocoque is ideal for crashtests and overal strength and Flex
      its realy the best of both worlds!

      one drawback : wheight...
      But Landrover have tought about that , and you can order your LR3 with a rear difflock !

      personaly i drive a new Defender 2007 - and i can say that the LR3 comes VERRY close to the defender in offroad situations !

      also the current Range Rover (L322) is a great offroader unlike the old one (P38)
      the P38 range rover was the worst landrover made in my opinion ...
      bad engine´s (diesels) and the airsuspension is cleary not without its faults

      the new one is much better , its still the BEST luxury offroader , there is no competition !
      if you never havent driven one you cant tell how good it is!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does the transfer case have a manual lockup on the center differential?
      As far as I know it does not.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I have to agree that the exterior styling has gotten worse not better. Leave the bling for the Sport and RR. And please don't ever think about putting aftermarket rims on that aren't made for off-roading, there are enough dbags in this world as is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They never should have changed the name. I remember when the "Discovery" use to be the hot SUV to have for young 30 something up and comers, it had more brand identity.

      Now it's overpriced and in need of a 2WD version or use of more high strength steel to get the weight down--way to heavy.

      If they don't improve mpg this model could end up like Hummer dying in a few years.
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