On one hand the Grand Cherokee offers plenty of utility to back up its SUV credentials. It is a deceptively big vehicle (larger than it looks in photographs) that provides generous space for five full-size adults, plus a capacious cargo area. Some manufacturers would probably try to make an SUV this size into a somewhat compressed-feeling 7-seater, but Jeep has taken the wiser path of sticking with five seats, while giving each passenger (and said passenger’s luggage and gear) a just-right amount of room. This would be a fine vehicle for longer road trips—especially for those who like to take occasional off-road excursions along the way.
A whiff of sophistication and elegance seems evident from the first tall step one takes into the LR4 cabin. Materials feel of a high quality if not overtly rich—there are certainly plastics in evidence, though few enough and nice enough that we don’t mind them. Controls are laid out in a reasonable fashion; the instrument panel is a bit button-heavy, but most drivers won’t take more than a few days to understand the fundaments. Perhaps most importantly, the controls that come to hand most often, steering wheel, gear lever, door handles, etc, all feel very robust and thoughtfully appointed.
In fact, as far as big honking SUVs go, I quite liked driving this Mercedes.
It’s not like the Escalade has simply gone bad, more that it hasn’t been updated (or better, completely revised) while newer products like the QX have sprung up. That relative datedness isn’t unique to Cadillac in this teetering full-size SUV segment, as mainline competitors like the Lexus LX (2007), Mercedes-Benz GL (2006), and Lincoln Navigator (2007) are all growing pretty long in the tooth.
In the real world, a vehicle’s comfort isn’t limited simply to how good the seats feel to sit in. There are a lot of other factors, including climate control, ride quality, noise levels, being able to get in and out of the car, and ease of use. Often, the words “luxury” and “size” go hand in hand with the idea of comfort. The features on hand also factor into how comfortable the experience is for driver and passengers; a long drive is going to be more comfortable if the kids in the back seat are calm, complacent, and entertained than if they are squirming, complaining, and asking, “Are we there yet?”
In this issue of Winding Road, we hop the border to Mexico to soak up some rays in the 2012 BMW 650i Convertible.
When driving, being able to see where you are going and what is going on around you is generally quite important. That’s why we tend to appreciate vehicles with massive greenhouses, as it gives us a great idea of what the other knuckleheads on the road are up to.
Three things stood out about the LR4, and these could make it the SUV to beat in the mid-sized class…
Generally speaking, when we attend a media drive event for a new vehicle we can expect to have a solid fifteen minutes to a half-hour section of the initial presentation devoted to vehicle design. This is where executive level design guys can really go to town, telling the assembled media about subtle heritage cues, the hiding of mass or height, and exotic themes or shapes integrated into the vehicle’s aesthetic. If the new car in question is particularly provocative or progressive of design, the explanations can go on for still longer.
In this issue of Winding Road, we drive the Jaguar XJ to see what the new cat has in store after its long-awaited update.
We have just taken delivery of the 2010 Land Rover LR4 HSE. It’s not quite a Range Rover, but it certainly looks to have the off-road chops of its big brother. With a 5.0-liter V-8 producing 375 horsepower and Land Rover’s Terrain Managment System among the many off-road goodies, the LR4 wouldn’t be out of place on the on the side of a mountain, in a mud bog, or on the Rubicon.
The third vehicle Land Rover brings to the New York Auto show is the 2010 LR4. It receives the same naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine as the other 2010 models, capable of 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque.