The Land Rover LR4 is the classic Land Rover, an authentic off-road vehicle with a brashly squared-off profile and British character.
The Land Rover LR4 is tough and capable after leaving the pavement far behind. Yet it’s also comfortable, and laden with conveniences. The LR4 can carry more passengers than other Land Rovers, seating seven or five, depending on configuration.
All Land Rover LR4 models come with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Generating 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the V6 is capable of delivering solid punch, including 0-60 mph acceleration in about 7.5 seconds.
Full-time four-wheel drive is standard, but two configurations are available: The standard system uses a one-speed Torsen transfer case. With the Heavy Duty Package, you get a two-speed transfer case with active-locking rear differential, plus a full-size spare tire. When properly equipped, with a braked trailer, towing capability can reach 7,716 pounds.
As for fuel economy, figure on being a frequent customer at the local gas station. Weighing nearly three tons, the LR4 is EPA-rated at 15/19 mpg City/Highway, which is not the worst imaginable, and more fuel-efficient than the old V8, yet hardly frugal. A standard Intelligent Stop/Start feature uses a twin-solenoid starter to shut the engine off at stoplights.
The LR4’s height-adjustable air suspension offers four settings: Normal (for highway use), Access (for loading/unloading), Off-Road, and Extended. Each LR4 has plenty of valuable off-road electronics, including Terrain Response, which lets drivers set traction control and other drivetrain parameters to suit grip conditions. When peak grip is needed, a central-locking differential engages. Gradient Acceleration Control and Hill Start Assist modes help tackle steep slopes.
For the 2016 model year, the infotainment system gets a new screen with easier access to navigation, phone, and audio commands. An available suite of InControl Apps includes internet radio, media streaming, location services, and navigation through smartphone-based apps. The current generation LR4 was launched as a 2010 model.
Land Rover LR4 comes in standard, HSE, and HSE LUX trim levels. The LR4 ($50,400) comes standard with two seating rows, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensor, rearview camera, Bluetooth, side steps, sunroof, 11-speaker, 380-watt Meridian audio; and 19-inch alloy wheels. Seven-passenger seating is optional ($1,250).
HSE ($55,300) gets seven-passenger seating, power-folding mirrors, navigation with traffic alerts, and xenon headlights. HSE LUX ($60,600) provides even more luxury, with a center console cooler box, interior mood lighting, and 825-watt 17-speaker Meridian audio. Options include a Black Design Package with 19- or 20-inch wheels; Rear Seat Entertainment System with dual eight-inch screens; Vision Assist, including surround-view cameras and blind-spot monitoring; Adaptive Cruise Control with collision mitigation; and the InControl Apps suite.
Curtain airbags and side airbags are standard. Seven-seat models come with separate side-curtain bags to protect rearmost occupants.
In today’s world of softly curvaceous crossovers, the LR4 stands defiantly upright, though nicely proportioned. Easily recognizable as a Land Rover, it’s the most traditionally designed member of the brand’s lineup. The LR4 built upon the upright profiles of the 1990s, evolving from the Discovery model. With its sharp corners, upright sides, and an unabashedly boxy look, the LR4 could be seen as a relic from the past.
Some describe the LR4 as safari chic, blending the harsh-terrain attributes of the Land Rovers that trekked through jungle and desert half a century ago with a modern array of luxury amenities. Aesthetically speaking, the LR4 stands well apart from nearly all its competitors.
Even more than the exterior, the LR4’s firmly upright, utilitarian interior tends to draw either praise or disdain. Though it appears traditional in purpose, the cabin shows no shortage of plush, contemporary detailing.
Carefully balancing form against function, the interior features not only soft-touch materials, but rich wood veneer trim and a lavish leather-trimmed dashboard. On the practical side is a clean, sensible control layout.
Seating is upright yet comfortable in both the first and second rows, even for taller folks, whereas the third row (if installed) is strictly suitable for small children. For some occupants, second-row seats may be short on knee space or legroom.
Well-shaped front buckets with adjustable armrests, provide good support. Sitting erect, the driver gets an excellent driving position and a fine view of the road ahead. Highly visible, pronounced hood corners are a Land Rover hallmark, as well as a practical benefit during demanding off-road journeys.
Second- and third-row seats can fold completely flat, opening up 90 cubic feet of space. Basically, the third row flips up from the load floor, suffering a significant shortage of headroom.
Because the LR4 is most definitely no crossover, expect some compromises when rolling down regular pavements. This SUV is heavy and more trucklike than front-wheel-drive-based crossovers. It’s one of the tallest SUVs around and the driver sits high.
Power is ample for ordinary driving, and the ride is pleasantly comfortable. Those benefits need to be measured against handling that can feel almost clumsy at times. Competent cornering results from the fully independent suspension, coupled with height-adjustable air springs, but body roll is noticeable.
On the road, the LR4 is graceful in its unique way, but it isn’t nimble and leans in corners, though it doesn’t feel prone to tipping. Steering is vague, with sufficient numbness enough to restrain temptation toward too-spirited driving. Expect some nosedive when braking hard, although pedal feel is actually quite good. Ample insulation keeps both wind noise and road noise at bay.
Not only does the ZF transmission shift smoothly, it downshifts promptly when needed. A dial on the central console controls the transmission, while paddles at the steering wheel let the driver changes gear manually. When turning off the ignition, that shift dial recedes into the console.
The Land Rover LR4 can go just about anywhere and comes loaded with luxury and convenience features. Seven-passenger seating is available.
Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.