The LR4 is like an LR3 that's been lovingly dipped in chocolate. There's a subtle, yet palpable, improvement in smoothness and refinement throughout its breathtakingly broad dynamic repertoire (don't forget this is one of the few modern SUVs that will still actually take you seriously off-road). And that improvement in dynamic refinement has been matched by obvious improvements in all the touchy, feely stuff too.

With bumpers and fender flares now finished in gloss body-color paint instead of matte black plastic, the LR's bodywork has moved from high-art functional to tastefully upscale. The mesh grille is a little gaudy though, especially in the context of the LR4's deceptively simple lines and delightfully sheer surfaces. The addition of a vent on the left front fender also seems just a little showy--the LR3's single, functional, right-side vent subtly echoed the unique asymmetrical tailgate and rear window graphic and cleverly reinforced the idea this vehicle had been designed, not styled.

While the LR3's interior had a functional, techie ambience, with lots of silver-painted plastic and sensible nonslip surfaces in the storage areas, the LR4's cabin looks like it's been cribbed from a Range Rover. The blocky silver center stack has been replaced by a more integrated trim-color piece that features completely redesigned HVAC and audio controls. The Terrain Response System controller is now situated ahead of the shifter. There are acres of expensive-looking wood and lots of luscious leather. It looks too good to take anywhere near a Wal-Mart parking lot, much less a gnarly backwoods trail.

But heading for a gnarly backwoods trail--or a sandy desert track, a rocky mountain pass, or a muddy river crossing--is exactly what you can do with the Land Rover LR4.

In an era when more modern SUVs are little more than jacked-up station wagons or four-door hatchbacks with delusions of ruggedness designed to lure consumers who hate the idea of buying a station wagon or a four-door hatchback, the Land Rover LR4 is the real deal. Point it off-road, dial in the appropriate menu on the Terrain Response Control, and the LR4 will take you farther, more comfortably, than almost any other SUV on the planet. Off-roading is what the Land Rover guys do; it's in their DNA.