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Motoring: Land Rover LR4 has its plusses

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | March 12th, 2012

It has been over four years now since Ford sold Land Rover and Jaguar to the Indian car giant Tata Motors.

The first new product to come out under the new owner is called the LR4 and it replaced the LR3.

At first glance, the LR4 doesn't look much different from the LR3, and there is a reason for that. The LR4 is still essentially the same vehicle as its predecessor but with a whole new host of improvements.

You'll be able to spot the slightly new headlights with the now ever popular LED lights built into the main unit, and at the back there are new taillights. There is also a new set of alloy wheels.

So while it has many features that are almost identical to the LR3, the LR4 does look cleaner and smarter.

The interior also is similar, but it is definitely much improved. It has the same amount of space as before, but the quality of materials now used is far superior to the aging LR3. You now get higher quality plastics, which give the car a whole new feeling of class.

There are some new gadgets too, most notably the new around-view camera system. This system is not only helpful when parallel parking but is also useful when threading off-road, as it lets you see the ground all around you — that is, if all the cameras are working. One of the cameras on my press tester would go on vacation every now and then, so reliability is not this feature's strong point. And don't think it was an isolated issue, either; I had a Range Rover after the LR4 and it had the same issue. In fact, in the Range Rover, two cameras went on holiday and took the blind spot monitoring system with them.

Electronic foibles still plague Land Rover products, which is a shame, because they are really very good to drive.

The LR3 was available with two engines in Canada, but the new LR4 gets only one engine. It's a V8, and a huge one at that. It's a 5.0-litre unit that produces 375 hp and 375 lb/ft of torque. Mated with a six-speed automatic gearbox that sends power to all wheels, this vehicle will haul you and your guests through just about anything.

I took it on an adventurous trek in the countryside and was amazed how easily it threads through the rough stuff. If you encounter a rock or a log in your path, you can raise the whole vehicle up to allow it more ground clearance to go over such obstacles (the system also has a lowering setting for getting it into low garages).

If the terrain gets a little tricky, it has settings that will optimize its four-wheel drive system to cope with mud, snow, sand and rocky terrain.

However, most people who will buy this vehicle will probably never get to do any such off-road activities, so what they should be concerned with is how it handles in the urban jungle.

It does this bit better than most SUVs. First is its ride quality, which is simply superb. Most such SUVs are bouncy and jittery on broken public roads. The LR4 rides as if it lays down a velvet carpet on the road before it treads on it. Then there is the turning circle, which is also very good for a vehicle of this girth. Its manners on the highway at speed are also very good indeed.

What isn't very good is the fuel consumption. I averaged 16.7 litres in this seven-passenger SUV, which means you will get to know the staff at your local gas station very well.

But everything has some foibles and this is no exception. If you're looking for a large SUV for the family that gets a score of eight out of 10, the LR4 just might be the vehicle for you. With prices starting at $59,990 it is pretty good value, too.
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