2010 Land Rover LR4
While Range Rovers fit for royalty are the most prestigious products from Britain’s Land Rover, it is their rugged mid-size utilities that are most likely to be found in American driveways. Now to keep that loyalty, Land Rover routinely provides major upgrades. The stepped roof Discovery gave way to a more rectangular LR3 for 2005, and now five years in, designers deemed it time for a new engine, new technology, new interior, and a new name. The Land Rover LR4. Let’s see if all this change is a positive move.
You may not notice much of a difference between the 2010 Land Rover LR4 and its predecessor. It retains the LR3’s squared-off, stepped profile, as well as general size. New styling cues are subtle, like a more upscale front end, smoothed out and brought closer to the top drawer Range Rover. Lighting gains the latest fashion, strips of LEDs daytime running lamps.
The LR3’s lone fender port gets a twin on the LR4. The only place the outgoing model’s asymmetrical styling theme continues is the funky notch in the tailgate glass. Our Izmir Blue LR4 came shod with the new 19-by-8-inch alloy wheels. Twenty-inchers are optional.
But there are bigger changes under the skin. Open the hood to a new all-aluminum 5.0-liter V8 rated at 375 horsepower and 375 pound feet of torque. That’s 25% more horses and 19% more torque than last year’s 4.4 V8.
The only transmission is an upgraded ZF six-speed automatic with sport manual mode. We found it to be well-matched to the Rover’s added power. Shifts are smooth and satisfying.
Off-roading is at the core of Land Rover DNA, and the LR4 is the most intrepid vehicle in the Land Rover’s U.S. model range. Revisions to the sophisticated Terrain Response System provide a higher degree of versatility. Sand Launch Control is new, and Rock Crawl can now automatically apply the brakes in precarious low-speed situations.
Our biggest complaints with the LR3 were slow shifts and a lack of power at the top end, but the LR4’s V8 is smooth and torquey across its entire powerband. Zero to 60 is a fine 7.5 seconds, a half better than our last LR3. So, there is ample passing power for broken lines and yellow lights, and plenty of low-end grunt for steep grades.
The LR4’s other notable mechanical bits include a multi-setting electronic air suspension, new chassis components, and bigger brakes. Towing tops out at a capable 7,700 pounds. Our tester’s Heavy Duty Package includes a locking rear diff for when things aren’t going right, and a full-size spare.
We liked the view from the LR3’s airy cabin just fine, but the dash left quite a bit to be desired. For 2010, the center stack and console feature more ergonomically correct controls, and much more pleasant styling.
Soft-touch materials are everywhere, from the dash pad, to the stitched multi-function steering wheel, to the leather-rimmed seats. Bolder seat contours make for a more comfortable cabin, too. Gauges remain large and clear, under a deep hood to protect from glare. Our HSE Plus adds satellite navigation, along with three-row, seven-passenger seating.
We like the raised position of the second row split bench, although there could be more legroom. The third row, however, is hard to get to and really only suitable for small children.
One of the design features that gives the LR4 such off-road prowess is a short rear overhang. But that also limits luggage space. Open the split hatch for only 9.9 cubic feet behind the third seat. Fold it down for a more respectable 42.1 cubic feet, with a class competitive 90.3 after all seats are down.
Less respectable are Government Fuel Economy ratings of only 12 city and 17 highway on premium gas. The new V8 is just as thirsty as the old one. But, according to Land Rover, tailpipe emissions now meet ULEV2 regulations.
Still, the LR4’s Energy Impact Score is very high, 24.5 barrels of oil consumed annually, and leaves a 13.1-ton Carbon Footprint wherever it goes. Those numbers are the same as the Mercedes-Benz GL550, which doesn’t soften the environmental blow at all.
Yet given all it’s attributes and luxury, the base LR4 well priced at $48,100. That’s over $35 grand less than the GL550. Even the higher featured HSE at $51,750, and top-shelf LUX at $57,665, look good by that measure.
Land Rover’s new 5.0-liter V8 is a much better match for the LR4’s mass, and for 2010, Terrain Response is a good thing made better. That, plus a host of other improvements really do make the LR4 worthy of a new name, despite appearances. The LR4 upholds the Land Rover heritage well, adding more refinement and comfort, without losing any of its off-road moves.
- Engine: All-aluminum 5.0-Liter V8
- Horsepower: 375
- Torque: 375 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 7.5 Seconds
- EPA: 12 MPG City/ 17 MPG Highway
- Energy Impact: 24.5 Barrels Oil/Yr
- CO2 Emissions: 13.1 Tons/Yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined