Like Phil, I was a bit perplexed when Land Rover put a new name on its updated LR3. But after spending a busy winter weekend in the LR4, it became quite clear to me, too, that Land Rover made some very worthwhile nips and tucks in its work on the LR3+1. The driver-interface areas and materials have been improved by a few notches (are these the most legible gauges ever put into an automobile?); the LED running lights and taillamps look very cool; and the extra horsepower and engine displacement are more than welcome.
But many of the reasons that I found the LR4 so useful were also strong points of the LR3 (and our Four Seasons 2005 LR3 HSE). I hauled all kinds of items in the LR4's spacious cargo area, with the third row folded flat. The zigzaggy luggage cover worked great for the odd tall item, while the staggered tailgate/liftgate combination was very helpful for loading things like spillable food items and making sure that they fit well and were packed properly. Of course, there was still plenty of room for passengers in the middle row. And thanks to the three large sunroofs, those passengers felt almost as if they were seated in the world's tallest convertible.
December in Michigan isn't a good time for convertibles, though, but this LR4 was one of the best winter vehicles I've ever driven. The windshield has tiny defroster lines (almost invisible versions of what you find in most cars' rear windows) that mean you don't have to scrape the glass. The steering wheel and front seats have excellent heaters. And the Terrain Response control can be used to quickly dial in a snow/gravel/grass mode that worked very well in the snow and ice.
I do have one major complaint, however: the LR4 could really use grab handles on the A-pillars. Like those in just about every other super-tall truck, the handles on the LR4's outboard headliner can be quite hard to reach for people shorter than five-foot-six or so.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor