With family in England, I read more than my fair share of British car magazines. If there is one thing these diverse publications all share, it’s a rabid love of the Land Rover Discovery. Reading the reviews, you’d think it can part the Red Sea while cruising on rainbows. I wonder how much of this is cheering for a home team that’s experienced a whole lot of defeats in the last 30 years.
Still, quite a few of us at CR were surprised by how much we liked the Land Rover LR4, the American version of the Discovery 4. That’s because we really weren’t so impressed when we tested its predecessor, the LR3, back in 2005. Clumsy handling, gluttonous fuel economy, and sluggish acceleration topped our complaints.
But a 2010 update proved to be just what the LR3 needed. Rechristened LR4, a new 5.0-liter V8 dramatically improved performance, as well as fuel economy. Towing performance is effortless. While it’s still obvious that the LR4 is a big and tall box handling-wise, tweaks have made it feel more responsive and controlled.
Compared to the $57,435 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ or $56,555 Lincoln MKT we recently tested, the $54,010 LR4 with the HSE Plus package oddly seems a bit like a bargain.
Other LR3 pros and cons carried over to the LR4. There’s lots of room inside the well-trimmed interior, including a third-row seat with room for grownups. Visibility is refreshingly generous to the front and sides. The LR4 is extremely capable off-road, yet it doesn’t have a lousy ride. On the negative side, some of the controls remain poorly placed or unintuitive, including a slow-reacting and cryptic touch-screen.
There’s a dark side to Land Rover ownership. In years past, reliability has not been a strong suit. Our experience–-independent from our annual reliability survey--hasn’t been problem-free: the driver’s seat jammed solid in its tracks and the power windows needed reprogramming. Still, that’s a whole lot better than our trouble-prone 2005 LR3.
— Tom Mutchler