Like the rest of its ilk, the Land Rover LR4 is big, tall, and heavy. No surprise there. Given the amount of effort expended by the auto industry in making big trucks like this into palatable suburban-use vehicles, it's also not terribly surprising that the LR4 is very polished overall-quiet, smooth-riding, and even reasonably good-handling. Where the Land Rover does, however, stand apart from other full-size, three-row SUVs is that it is considerably less stressful to maneuver in town. Although you think of the Land Rover as a big boy (and it is), its overall length is quite a bit shorter than several of its competitors. A Mercedes-Benz GL or an Audi Q7 is some ten inches longer; a Chevy Tahoe/Cadillac Escalade is a foot longer. The LR4 has the additional advantage of a tighter turning circle, besting the GL, the Q7, and even the fractionally smaller Jeep Commander. The final element that keeps the LR4 from being a tiresome beast to wrestle with is its excellent outward visibility.
Outward visibility has become a non-consideration for auto designers in recent years, as we've seen beltlines get ever higher, pillars grow thicker, and windows shrink. The LR4 stands in pleasant contrast to all those trends. The windowline actually is below the driver's shoulder, which is almost unheard of in a modern car. The A-pillars are too thin to hide a pedestrian entering a crosswalk. And, if you have the third seat folded, the dipped-down glass area in the tailgate actually allows you to see behind the vehicle.
Yes, the Land Rover includes the increasingly ubiquitous backup camera (and yes, it is useful for judging tight quarters behind the car), but the nice thing about the LR4 is that you really don't need to rely on a phalanx of cameras and automated warning devices to see where you're going.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor