2011 Land Rover LR4Posted on April 12th, 2011
All-terrain vehicle for active lifestyles
By Nina Russin
The Land Rover LR4 and its predecessor, the LR3, have struck a chord among buyers with active lifestyles. I believe that the LR4’s appeal lies in its versatility. Not only does it combine excellent driving dynamics on paved roads with the capability to tackle extreme off-road trails; the LR4 also seats up to seven passengers, and has the most versatile cargo area of any Range Rover product.
Power comes from a 375-horsepower V-8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The driver can engage manual gear selection for more aggressive performance on challenging roads.
Land Rover’s terrain response system takes the guesswork out of off-road driving, by automatically matching the shift points, suspension settings and braking to specific types of terrain such as sand, mud and ruts, snow and rock crawl.
Base price is $47,650, not including the $850 destination fee. Black lacquer paint on the test car adds $350, while a climate comfort package, including heated seats, steering wheel and washer jets, adds $1500. The optional third row of seating costs $1,150. California emissions controls cost $100,bringing the price as tested to $51,600.
The new V-8 engine which comes standard on the LR4 is 25 percent more powerful than the block it replaces, thanks to direct injection. By delivering fuel directly into the engine cylinders, engineers maximize throttle response and enhance torque. The LR4 accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 7.5 seconds: almost half a second faster than the LR3.
Engine development was a joint project between Jaguar and Land Rover. Jaguar’s version of the same block appears in the XF sport sedan. The Land Rover version is modified to maintain lubrication when the car tilts at extreme angles. It has a mechanical cooling fan rather than an electrical unit. The other major difference is that the Land Rover engine is water proof, while the Jaguar block is not.
Fuel economy for the LR4 is not particularly good. The LR4 is a heavy car: curb weight is 5,833 pounds. The high center of gravity and two-box architecture give the Land Rover a high coefficient of drag. Average fuel economy, according to EPA statistics, is 14 miles-per-gallon. Due to the engine’s high compression ratio, premium fuel is required.
On the other hand, the LR4 is a vehicle which can overcome almost any obstacle it might face. It can tow up to 7700 pounds using a braked trailer: double our ALV minimum standard.
The LR4 is engineered to wade up to 27 inches of water. Climbing up the side of a Mayan ruin isn’t out of the question.
While less expensive vehicles have similar capabilities, the engineers at Land Rover make adventure simple. There’s no need to switch between driving modes, since the LR4 is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive. Nor does the driver have to decide which gear range to use. The terrain response system takes care of that, based on driving conditions.
The air suspension system automatically adjusts ride height: slightly lower than normal for highway speeds, and higher for uneven off-road trails. Features such as hill descent control and hill start assist enable the driver to maintain directional control going up and down steep grades.
Test drive in Phoenix
This week I drove the LR4 primarily on paved roads around the Phoenix metropolitan area and in the Tonto National Forest to the east.
The new, more powerful engine will not disappoint driving enthusiasts. The engine develops peak torque, 375 foot-pounds, at 3500 rpm. Acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range is exceptional.
Despite its curb weight and high profile, the LR4 handles much like a passenger car. The suspension is extremely responsive, eating up the turns on the Bush highway like a tiger. I took some negative radius curves at a brisk pace and never felt a loss of traction. When I drove the LR4 over pitchy hills, the suspension recovered quickly, maintaining the wheels’ contact with the ground.
The LR4 is equally adept on the highway. Engineers did an excellent job of isolating passengers from wind and road noise, making it easy for those in the second and third rows to converse with those in front. Visibility around the perimeter of the car is pretty good, considering the vehicle’s high profile. There are some blind spots in the back corners and underneath the rear glass. On the other hand, over-the-shoulder visibility is good in both directions, making it easy to monitor traffic in the adjacent lanes.
Standard nineteen-inch wheels maintain large contact patches with the ground. Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
My favorite part of the LR4 is its interior, which is as attractive as it is versatile. Three overhead glass panes allow ample ambient light into the interior. It is the only sport-utility vehicle I can think of in which third-row passengers won’t feel claustrophobic.
It is also a rare example of third-row seating which is both easy to access and comfortable for an adult. Because the LR4 has a low floor tunnel, there is ample legroom in the second-row center position. Theater-style ceiling gives both second and third-row passengers a clear view out the front.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, designers made subtle changes to improve the LR4 interior over the outgoing model. For example, the terrain response system rotary knob is now at the base of the center stack, adjacent to the hill descent and hill-start assist controls.
The steering wheel includes redundant audio, information, cruise control and Bluetooth functions to minimize driver distraction. A digital display in the gauge cluster includes information on trouble codes, custom settings, odometer and trip meter. Both the gauge cluster and center stack display are easy to read in bright sunlight.
A two-piece glovebox offers secure storage beyond a few car documents. The center console includes a narrow bin for portable electronic devices and a deeper bin for compact discs and small packages.
All four doors have bottle holders large enough to accommodate 20-ounce water bottles. Third-row passengers have access to bottle holders and storage bins outboard of the seats. Overhead lamps illuminate all three rows of seating at night.
Land Rover’s asymmetric clamshell tailgate is a carryover from the LR3. I think it’s a great design: both attractive and extremely functional. Smaller drivers should have no problem loading up the back. With the rear seats folded into the floor, the LR4 easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
The LR4 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, dynamic stability control, hill descent and hill start assist. Permanent four wheel drive with an electronic locking center differential makes it easier and safer to traverse uneven off-road trails.
Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob late at night. Rear park distance alert warms the driver about obstacles which may not be visible when the car is in reverse.
All models come with a four year/50,000 mile warranty which includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
Likes: A seven-passenger sport-utility vehicle which is equally at home on urban highways and extreme off-road trails. The LR4’s versatile interior makes it a good choice for buyers with active lifestyles.
Dislike: Poor fuel economy. The high compression engine requires premium fuel.
Make: Land Rover
Base price: $47,650
As tested: $51,600
Horsepower: 375 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 375 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 12/17 mpg city/highway
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