The LDV D90 SUV is larger than we anticipated, with seven seats and is based on the same underpinnings as the D60 utility.
Unlike the diesel-powered ute that we drove previously, this one is powered by a responsive 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine.
It’s a proper offroader too, with low range four-wheel drive and presents as a more upmarket proposition — but remains relatively affordable.
What’s it cost?
There’s three grades from which to choose, all with the same 2.0-litre turbo engine.
That means no diesel, at least for the time being — but we’re been told watch this space.
The range kicks off with the 2WD auto at $35,990 driveaway, followed by 2WD Executive at $39,990 driveaway and 4WD Executive at $43,990 driveaway.
Premium paint adds $500.
Standard kit includes leather and climate control air conditioning, and it rolls on 19-inch alloys with 255/55 series rubber, with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear suspension.
There’s also a sunroof, sidesteps, power adjust front seats, auto lights and wipers, but oddly no auto dimming rear view mirror.
Add to this LED headlights, daytime LEDs, puddle lights, front and rear parking sensors, speed sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, and a power tailgate.
For the tech heads there’s 3 x 12 volt sockets, 1 x 220 volt power outlet, and 3 x USB ports, distributed throughout the cabin.
A stronger safety story is headlined by auto emergency braking (AEB), six airbags, rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, fatigue reminder, blind spot alert, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
Again, oddly, it misses out on the 360 degree camera in the ute.
What’s it go like?
At just over 5 metres and weighing in at 2330kg, it’s a big beast and can tow a 2000kg braked load.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 165kW of power at 5300rpm and 350Nm of torque, the latter from 2500 to 3500 rpm.
Drive is through the rear wheels in two-wheel drive models and to all four wheels in the 4WD version, with low range and hill descent control available.
All are paired with a 6-speed automatic that features auto stop-start for fuel saving plus Eco and Sport modes.
The 4WD also offers four selectable offroad modes: Rock, Mud, Sand and Snow.
Ground clearance is a shade less than the ute at 210mm, but it has better entry and exit angles and like the ute wading depth without a snorkel is 550mm.
Good to see you get both reach and height adjustment for the steering wheel, with power adjustment for the front seats, including lumbar for the driver.
There’s faux wood trim, but it’s of the grey variety rather than the garish natural tones the Chinese normally seem to favour.
Seats are comfortable, with separate aircon controls for second row passengers and outlets for all.
The second row provides two ISOFIX top tether points for car seats.
The third row is relatively generous in size, but realistically still suitable only for younger children.
It packs flat when not required, but there’s not much luggage space behind the third row when in use — with 343 litres of capacity available.
You pull a strp to drop them, while release handles are thoughtfully provided inside the rear tailgate to lower the second row seat backs.
The 12.0-inch touchscreen in this one is much larger and more impressive than that in the ute, but still lacks functionality.
It features AM/FM radio, MP3 support, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and 8 speakers.
But, again, there’s no DAB digital radio and satnav (what the hell were they thinking?)
You’re expected to connected your phone with a cable to access enhanced functionality, with Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto.
Android phones require an app called EasyConnection, but there’s nothing easy about it.
Of note, we noticed the time displayed on the screen differed from that indicated in the instrument panel at one stage, but we could find no way of aligning the two — the screen remained stuck in the 1970s.
Pairing mobile phones is relatively easy, once you know to look for the name “wandboardxxx” (where did they get that from).
But neither of our phones would reconnect automatically, time and time again — although we should point out there’s a setting for this.
The car is also advertised as having traffic sign recognition, so the current speed limit should appear in the instrument cluster.
But we could find no sign of the signs and no setting that relates to this function.
On road performance is sharp, but you end up paying for this with relatively high fuel consumption.
The idea of downsizing and turbocharging engines is to reduce fuel consumption and restoring performance by force-feeding the engine.
In this context, the D90 still has some way to go.
You can change gears manually, but gear change paddles are not provided.
Changes are generally smooth, but the transmission did become confused on a couple of occasions.
Sport mode is available, but tricky to select and needs to be re-engaged each time you start the car.
Steering, ride and handling are commensurate with any of its high riding competitors, given the inherent limitations of SUVs.
The brakes aren’t bad either.
Speaking of brakes, the adaptive cruise control system is entertaining, to say the least.