VIBE Test Drives The Land Rover Experience

All across the country, it's finally (fin-al-ly!) starting to get warm outside again. Which means that, unless you're roughing it out in the middle of Alaska somewhere, there's a good chance you're not particularly worried about how your ride handles snow right now. But a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to stay at the Equinox Resort & Spa in Manchester, Vermont in order to test out the 2010 Land Rover LR4 by taking off-road driving lessons at the Land Rover Experience—right in the middle of a brutal Nor'easter that had me trying to make my way through about 15-20 inches of snow in the wilderness of Vermont. That photo above? Yeah, that's what I was up against (check out my tire chains, son!). Interesting doesn't begin to describe it. But I learned a couple things about the new Land Rover LR4 along the way, too. Here are just a few of the things to keep in mind about the LR4 if you're in the market for an SUV that's just as good off the road as it is on it...


1. The Look: Despite the fact that the Land Rover is designed to handle all of your off-road needs, it should come as no surprise that Los Angeles is one of the brand's biggest markets. Straight up, the LR4 looks like what you'd imagine a luxury SUV should look like. It's an upgrade from the Land Rover's previous model, the LR3, and features new headlights, an improved grill and a refined shape that makes it perfect for pulling up in front of the club—or in front of a foot of snow at the Land Rover Experience's off-road course.


2. The Ride: Under normal driving conditions, you're probably not going to utilize too many of the features I used on the Land Rover Experience off-road driving course. But assuming you're gonna be using the LR4 for more than just stunting, it does include some features that'll help you make your way through any driving conditions. The most useful feature is the Terrain Response, which basically allows you to choose the terrain you need to handle (gravel, snow, sand, etc.). From there, the LR4's Dynamic Stability Control helps you brake through tough driving conditions and the Hill Descent Control helps the LR4 avoid accelerating down hills too quickly, regardless of the surface. As someone who absolutely sucks at driving through the snow (shout-out to the LR driving instructors who taught me all about my understeering and oversteering mistakes), the LR4 made busting through the elements a breeze during my time in Manchester.


3. The Extras: If you're copping an LR4, you're gonna be paying about $48K to live the Land Rover Experience everyday. And if you're still trying to work your way through the recession, that ain't particularly cheap. But the LR4 gives you a ride that includes plenty of little extras that make it worth it. Inside the LR4, Land Rover has found the right balance of comfort, sportiness and luxury. All of the controls for the TR and DS are right at your fingertips and relatively easy to use once you know what you're doing. The five-inch touchscreen controls the GPS system and the iPod sync as well as the rear view camera that lets you see behind you when you're parking. There's even a surround camera system available that allows you to have access to five different cameras strategically placed on the SUV. It's a good look if you're looking to push the LR4 to the limit.


4. The Verdict: The LR4 is a winner. Okay, so you may not need most of the features listed above. The Terrain Response? The Dynamic Stability? The Hill Descent? Probably not necessary for the average driver. But if I learned anything during my day-long adventure at the Land Rover Experience, it's that part of the reason you don't think you need some of these features is because you've never actually had the opportunity to use them. They definitely help the LR4 stand out in a crowded class of SUVs—and make the latest Land Rover a true experience.


For more information on taking part in the Land Rover Experience, go here.

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