Five First Impressions: 2016 Land Rover LR4

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Tall and square, the Land Rover LR4 revels in the fact it's among the last of the SUVs that actually look like SUVs.

Known as the Discovery 4 in other countries, it's instantly recognizable as a Land Rover and a genuine off-roader. And it makes few concessions towards offering a car-like appearance and engaging on-road characteristics. It's part of the charm, but it's on the way out as its replacement is imminent. And based on what we've seen from Land Rover, a new LR4/Discovery won't be nearly as upright as this.

Here are some preliminary thoughts before a full review of what's the end of the fourth-generation Discovery.

Tall doesn't mean long
Imposing for sure, the LR4 doesn't cast nearly as large of a shadow as some other old-school SUVs on the market. It's about half a foot longer than the Toyota 4Runner I drove last year, yet the Land Rover packs in a third row of chairs. Hell, a Honda Accord sedan is almost three inches longer.

Blind-spot monitoring means big windows
This LR4 HSE Luxury comes in at just over the $70,000 mark. In terms of luxury, there's much in the way of leather and wood, less so in terms of technology. I assumed this rig had blind spot monitoring for about 4 miles of freeway outside of Los Angeles, until I saw nothing lighting up in the mirror. Blessedly, the LR4 is so upright and glassy that such a device is almost redundant. The downside of all of this is that everyone will be able to see exactly what you do while you drive.

Sit up
Another trademark of this Rover are the comfortable chairs in front that you sit on, giving a commanding view of everything. But better still may be the second and third-row seats, which are genuinely comfortable for adults. I could sit in the way back and have plenty of headroom, thanks to the raised roof. Consider the external dimensions of the car, and the LR4 is still packaged extremely well.

Push harder than you want to
In the U.S., the 2016 LR4 comes only with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 as seen in a number of JLR products of late, such as the Jaguar XJL 3.0 AWD I drove last year and liked a lot (despite the fact it sometimes ran on just five cylinders). In the aluminum-intensive products, it's a sprightly and energetic motor. In this LR4 that weighs in at more than 5,600 lbs. to start, it struggles until the 8-speed automatic figures out what to do. Ultimately, the 340 horsepower do manage to keep up with traffic – it's not like Discoverys of old with their V8s that didn't even crank out 200 horsepower.

Yes, it will off-road
Money that could be used to spring for blind-spot monitoring might be better spent on the $1,350 Heavy Duty Package, which includes an active-locking rear differential and two-speed transfer box to the already capable four-wheel drive system and software on the LR4. Given its more nimble size, this Land Rover is pretty capable on the trail. As the LR4's replacement (due to be called Discovery in every country, this time) is expected in the next 12 months, this is very likely our last chance with this tall workhorse.

Give me your questions in the comments ahead of the full review.

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