By Joe Wiesenfelder on April 8, 2009
Land Rover's three 2010 models, side-by-side on one stage, look disturbingly alike when viewed from the front. There are subtle differences, but the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4 are roughly the same size, and they’re also similar in shape, except for the more squared-off LR4's rear end. I've been criticizing Rover since the Range Rover Sport came out because it was based on the LR3 and rode on the coattails of the nicer, more expensive regular Range Rover. The interior, especially, didn't compare.
The good news is that all three of these have been redesigned inside, and though the Sport is still based on the LR, it's more deserving of the Range Rover name. The metal surrounding the door handles looks sharp, and the materials are high-quality overall. The one element I'm still not wild about is the sparkly gray plastic console around the gear selector.
The Range Rover, whose cabin had begun to show its age, is again top-notch, with generous use of aluminum trim. It has a new LCD instrument panel that shows graphics of the familiar tachometer and speedometer. It's similar to what Mercedes-Benz combines with real gauges in the S-Class, but here the whole thing is a screen. The gauges look clear and reasonably authentic, but the benefit is that the navigation and Terrain Response settings that used to appear only on the dashboard's touch-screen now appear between the gauge images, which can slide apart to create more room.
Here's the cool thing we don't get in the U.S.: The regular Range Rover navigation screen sold overseas offers a prismatic display that shows different things to the driver and passenger at the same time. The driver can view navigation while the passenger watches a video. Why not in the U.S.? Our laws against moving images in the front seats of cars in motion are unyielding.
The LR4 is a solid leap above the LR3 in interior quality, with soft-touch surfaces virtually everywhere and tasteful use of matte-finish wood. Only a little bit of the dreaded sparkly gray plastic appears, on the center control panel. It's pretty bright here at the auto show, so it was hard to tell, but the newly added LED ambient lighting seems to add a touch of class. So this one is nicer, the Sport is nicer and the Range Rover is incrementally nicer. All good, but now I'm wondering if there's enough differentiation among the three, given the similarity of size and range of prices. I know, I know — I'm impossible.
2010 Land Rover LR 4
2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2010 Land Rover Range Rover
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe