First Drive: 2010 Land Rover LR4

Aside from the engine, the area of greatest improvement for the LR4 is the interior. Gone is the confusing and unintuitive infotainment system and in its place is an easy to use touch-screen unit. All of the materials used, from the dash to the door panels, are softer and more luxurious than the LR3's. There's a new steering wheel with better controls for everything from infotainment functions to the cruise control. Those very familiar with the ordering guide for the LR3 will notice two new interior colors. There are new seats for the first and second row passengers, but not for those forced to ride in the optional third row. LR4s with the optional Premium Leather pack also gain adjustable side bolsters in the front bucket seats. A new ambient lighting system uses white LEDs to highlight the metal door handles and the center console area when the headlights are on.

All of the 2010 Land Rovers make use of new technology, and the LR4 particularly benefits from the upgrades. As we've mentioned, the confusing infotainment system has been simplified and the touch-screen is much more intuitive to operate than the old collection of buttons and dials. The new iPod interface is well-integrated and there is also an option to play music files from a USB memory stick.

A fancy, 5.0-inch TFT display is situated between the speedometer and tachometer in the dashboard, but currently it can only display basic information about the vehicle. We hope a software upgrade will allow information about what song is playing, or navigation directions, to be displayed in this location. It can be much less distracting to look down to the instrument cluster for navigation info rather than looking down and to the right at a nav screen. Such an arrangement could also allow navigation information to be displayed to a driver and infotainment information to be displayed to a passenger, or vice-versa.

Other notable technological improvements include an available surround camera system, which uses five different digital cameras to monitor the ground around the vehicle. Unfortunately there's no software to combine the views of the five cameras into a single image a la the Infiniti EX35, but one or two views can be selected to be blown up, and each camera can zoom in. The cameras can be displayed at speed and we particularly enjoyed the ability to see how close the passenger-side wheels were to the curb while driving in the United Kingdom. That same network of cameras makes the "tow assist" function possible. In this mode, drivers can enter information about a trailer (size, type, and number of axles) to help predict how the rig will maneuver in reverse. We weren't able to test this system, but the idea is intriguing.

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