Land Rover really worked to impress us at the New York Auto Show. No, not like all the other automakers— Rover rented out an aircraft carrier, for real. They blathered on about "unparalleled innovation" but slipped the SUV's coolest feature; fold-out tailgate party seats, into a dark corner of their press release.
Live-feeding off-road terrain to a heads-up display is awesome, but what's it going to be used for? Parking in tight spots, which can done with already-familiar park sensors (or your eyes if you're a real pro). Remote-control drivability is neat too, but even more frivolous.
Now, a little bench the folds out of the tailgate for comfortable back-of-SUV relaxing while parked? I'd use that all the time. Totally would have saved the few seconds I had to spend throwing down a blanket on the back of my old Discovery to avoid getting rust stains on my Nantucket Red shorts at polo games.
In all seriousness, a tailgate seat is the kind of add-on Land Rover should be leveraging to differentiate their vehicles. Cool, if a little gimmicky, toys that owners can get a have fun using and make their kids smile with. Like the many sunroofs and center-facing jumpseats that made the first Discovery a little extra funky.
Granted it wasn't easy to find people willing to ride in those jumpseasts, but my cousins had a ball back there.
Compared to laser traffic-targeting and drivability from a smartphone, I can't help but think the few pieces of padded plastic and metal it would take to execute something like a fold-out seat would be pretty easy for Land Rover to scare up. You know, "Low hanging fruit" in business douchespeak.
I have no doubt that the amazing digital features we saw at the Discovery Vision Concept reveal are technologically viable. Even though the only thing they actually demonstrated on the Discovery Vision Concept was the left doors opening. But I do not believe Land Rover will bother actually developing them any time soon.
I think Land Rover would be well-suited to dial back their technolust and throw in more things to fold out, levers to push, and other accessories to play with. Anyone else think they could make use of a retractable tailgate bench, or would this kind of stuff just add even more weight for our SUVs to lug around every day?
Images: Land Rover, Andrew Collins