The sport-utility vehicle is dead. Or so the headlines would have you believe. But while traditional truck-like SUVs have certainly been losing ground to car-based crossovers, they’re far from gone. There are still plenty of folks who want the space, ruggedness, off-road capabilities and towing capacity of a vehicle like the all-new 2010 Land Rover LR4.
The sport-utility vehicle is dead. Or so the headlines would have you believe. But while traditional truck-like SUVs have certainly been losing ground to car-based crossovers, they’re far from gone.
There are still plenty of folks who want the space, ruggedness, off-road capabilities and towing capacity of a vehicle like the all-new 2010 Land Rover LR4.
If it seems a bit familiar, no surprise. It carries over the good parts of Land Rover’s old, mid-range LR3. The exterior styling is classic British ute, though with cleaner, more modern lines. But the real changes are found in the cabin, which has lost most of the clumsy plastic bits and pieces that gave the old LR3 an unpleasantly down-market feel.
The 2010 Land Rover LR4 is pleasantly sophisticated, comfortable and uncannily competent. One of the most intriguing features is terrain response control. A simple turn of the dial adjusts all manner of vehicle functions, such as brakes, accelerator, transmission and ride height to a variety of different road and weather conditions. Terrain response control will make even novice drivers feel like off-road veterans.
Another intriguing piece of hardware is the new five-camera observation system, with two cameras up front, one in each front door and another in the rear. The system is great for navigating tight trails. One in the nose can actually look underwater when you’re fording a stream. Of course, the system also is useful for backing out of a driveway or parking in a tight spot.
The new model replaces the old LR3’s 4.4-liter V-8 with a new 5.0-liter 8-banger Land Rover shares with its British sibling, Jaguar. It’s a 5.0-liter package producing 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. That’s 25 percent more power and 22 percent more torque – even though fuel economy remains the same at 12 city, 17 highway.
The 2010 Land Rover LR4 is a perfect choice for those who don’t like to compromise. It will ford nearly 2 feet of water and crawl across the biggest boulders, yet still let you show up in style at the theater.
Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 30 years covering the global auto industry. His work appears in a wide range of publications worldwide, and he is a frequent broadcast commentator on subjects automotive.
Land Rover LR4
Miles per gallon: 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway.
Engine options: 5.0-liter V-8, 375 horsepower, 375 pound-feet torque.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $51,750.
Cost fully loaded: $60,000 (est.).