Living in the north I needed something where a snowfall would not have any effect on my commuting ability (traffic aside, of course). My previous car was an Acura TL, which I absolutely loved 9 months...
Living in the north I needed something where a snowfall would not have any effect on my commuting ability (traffic aside, of course). My previous car was an Acura TL, which I absolutely loved 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months (mid Dec through mid Mar) were absolutely miserable anytime there was a snow. Living in Chicago everyone either parks on the street or they park off their alley in back. Since alleys aren't plowed, my Acura (low to the ground & wide tires) would get stuck constantly. After 4 winters of this, I'd had enough, hence the change to an SUV.
After I'd decided on a luxury SUV, I did a significant amount of research--reading reviews, articles, etc--and narrowed it down to the X5, Q7 & LR4.
The Test Drive:
X5--The BMW's seats were rock-hard & the 2nd row was cramped. Third row--really? Not that any adult would use it, but it was absolutely pathetic; even a child would be uncomfortable. I'm 6'2" and did not feel comfortable in any of the seats. The engine had nice acceleration & the vehicle felt very agile for an SUV. In the end, there wasn't very much cargo space & I thought if/when I'd ever own a BMW, I'd stick to a sedan or coupe and skip the SUV.
Q7--The Audi was much more comfortable to sit in, but didn't feel as roomy as it should be given its dimensions. I could actually cram into the 3rd row, which might be useful for briefly hauling around 7 passengers--but wouldn't want to be back there more than 15 minutes. The engine (gas) was nice with smooth acceleration and gear changes. Handling was good.
LR4--I expected the Land Rover to be stiff, slow and uncomfortable. I was definitely surprised! With the newer Jaguar-derived engine, it was plenty powerful and plenty quick. For as much as this hulking beast weighs, it definitely does not drive/feel like it. Great acceleration & smooth gear changes, it really drives/rides nicely. What really set this vehicle apart during the test drive was the spaciousness. There is so much glass and the cargo space cavernous, it almost gives a calming effect. The 3rd row is actually usable and could comfortably accommodate a decent-sized adult for a shorter drive (~2 hours). The special Land Rover course was an interesting part of the experience. Not that I will be taking this vehicle off-roading (though,you never know--I'm an adrenaline junky), but I couldn't help but think the X5 or Q7 would topple over on each of the obstacles.
I chose the LR4 because it looks and acts like an SUV, has a great engine, large amount of cargo capacity and gives me zero worries about the snow. I wanted something large and comfortable enough for us for tailgating at football games and for a family road trip once kids come along.
2012 LR4 HSE LUX. Sumatra black ext, black int w/ black lacquer trim, 20" special wheels.
Thoughts after purchase:
The interior looks and feels almost as nice as the much pricier RR & RR Sport. It's very quiet while driving (noticed by all who have ridden in it). The Nav system is the easiest I've ever used, but is slow when entering in destination information (needs a faster processor most likely). Lots of leg- & shoulder-room throughout, great storage & sound system (upgraded in the LUX) is unbelievable. It's fun to drive though the gas mileage is horrible, as expected. In the city I'm getting about 13 mpg, though in my Acura TL I was managing only 15-16 mpg in the city. On the highway the LR4 gets about 20 mpg, but I knew what I was geting into so it's no surprise!
Only issue I had:
Within 2 weeks of owning the vehicle, the info-tainment system went awry: it wouldn't recognize my cell phone (bluetooth), then the satellite radio stopped working, then the CD wasn't recognized & then the nav system was only displaying a 'thinking/recalculating' function--all happened over a period of 24 hours. I called the delearship and they promptly picked up the car from my workplace, dropped off a loaner and then returned my vehicle 2 days later having replaced the info-tainment system. I've had no other issues since (1.5 months later), fingers crossed.
I am 100% certain I made the right decision, but I'm still a bit concerned with future reliability. Everyone who has ridden in my LR4 walks away loving it and I look forward to every minute of driving. My wife, who takes a bus to work every day & has zero interest in cars, actually enjoys driving it, jumping in the driver's seat whenever she can sneak past me!