The 2010 LR4 made its first appearance at the New York auto show on April 8. It replaces the LR3, formerly known as the Discovery as the smallest sport utility in the line. The LR4 is essentially an LR3 with a thorough facelift inside and out.
Changes to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are less noticeable, including smoother, simpler exterior styling and some additional high-tech features such as an updated version of Land Rover’s adjustable Terrain Response system and a “surround-view” camera display.
All those changes would be okay under normal circumstances, but these are hardly normal circumstances. Land Rover just changed ownership for the third time in 15 years; it’s an all-truck brand in a small-car world; and Land Rover quality is still near the bottom in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
India’s Tata Motors bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company last June for just $2.3 billion. Ford also kicked in about $600 million for pension plans. That price was markedly less than the $3 billion Ford paid for Land Rover.
Jaguar was an independent, publicly traded company when Ford bought it in 1990 for $2.38 billion, just as Lexus was gaining momentum and proving Ford’s assumption wrong that you needed heritage to expand a luxury band. Lexus quickly went on to become the best selling luxury brand in the U.S. Jaguar, in spite of billions of dollars of additional investment and grandiose predictions of huge sales gains, languished. Ford then bought Land Rover from Germany’s BMW AG in 2000 hoping that it could cash in on growing truck demand. That assumption too proved dubious. All told, Ford’s investment in both failed brands could total more than $20 billion. (more…)