Like the rest of its ilk, the Land Rover LR4 is big, tall, and heavy. No surprise there. Given the amount of effort expended by the auto industry in making big trucks like this into palatable suburban-use vehicles, it’s also not terribly surprising that the LR4 is very polished overall-quiet, smooth-riding, and even reasonably good-handling. Where the Land Rover does, however, stand apart from other full-size, three-row SUVs is that it is considerably less stressful to maneuver in town. Although you think of the Land Rover as a big boy (and it is), its overall length is quite a bit shorter than several of its competitors. A Mercedes-Benz GL or an Audi Q7 is some ten inches longer; a Chevy Tahoe/Cadillac Escalade is a foot longer. The LR4 has the additional advantage of a tighter turning circle, besting the GL, the Q7, and even the fractionally smaller Jeep Commander. The final element that keeps the LR4 from being a tiresome beast to wrestle with is its excellent outward visibility.
Outward visibility has become a non-consideration for auto designers in recent years, as we’ve seen beltlines get ever higher, pillars grow thicker, and windows shrink. The LR4 stands in pleasant contrast to all those trends. The windowline actually is below the driver’s shoulder, which is almost unheard of in a modern car. The A-pillars are too thin to hide a pedestrian entering a crosswalk. And, if you have the third seat folded, the dipped-down glass area in the tailgate actually allows you to see behind the vehicle.
Yes, the Land Rover includes the increasingly ubiquitous backup camera (and yes, it is useful for judging tight quarters behind the car), but the nice thing about the LR4 is that you really don’t need to rely on a phalanx of cameras and automated warning devices to see where you’re going.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
I really like the stark white paint over black interior of our test car. It nicely highlights the geometric exterior lines of the LR4; the design is aging very well and remains a refreshing contrast to all the curvilinear crossover & SUV shapes on the road. The interior is also very smartly turned out, although there are a few trim pieces that don’t fit nearly as well as they should. The touch-screen navigation system is also dated, a problem that afflicts all current Land Rovers and Jaguars.
Plenty of power here from the 5.0-liter V-8 that was recently upgraded. Ride and handling are good, but there’s a bit less body control than I remember, and the steering isn’t the most precise. No matter; the affluent suburbanites who drive the LR4, which used to be known as the LR3 and the Discovery, will be well served by this family hauler that’s capable of far more than most of them will ever dream of subjecting it to.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I did a quick home and back in the LR4, and I did it all on surface streets and the interstate. It has been a few years since my last serious off-road adventure in the world’s most luxuriously competent motorized billy goat, and there was a little pang in my heart for the wilds of Iceland/Belize/Rocky Mountains/South Africa/Madagascar.
But I picked up the dry cleaning and gave my dog Lou a ride to and from work. Lou used to jump into a vehicle, but she took one look at the height involved and the narrowness of the door opening to the second row, and she promptly sat on her fat little ass. Long-legged humans might also be prepared to call shotgun for the front passenger seat.
I cannot say enough about the heated steering wheel. Including, GOD! $1500!! Yeah, it includes seats, windshield, and washer jets, but GOD!!
I’d swallow hard and buy that package.
Jean Jennings, Editor-in-Chief
I have an odd fascination with gadgets and switchgear, so it took a formidable intrinsic battle to keep my right hand from fiddling with the plethora of dials and buttons Land Rover installs at the leading edge of the LR4’s center console. Desert mode? Off-road suspension height? Hill descent control? Low range? It’s entirely possible to prepare the LR4 for anything short of a plague of locusts with just a few taps of the finger and the twist of a wrist.
The problem, however, is I don’t exactly have the occasion to truly test or even begin to use any one of these highly engineered settings. Thankfully, the LR4 is just as happy to perform in the urban jungle, although there isn’t a specific knob labeled “cushy tarmac touring.” The air suspension, which errs on the side of floaty, coddled me home over crumbling two-lane roads, while the direct-injection 5.0-liter V-8 (a welcome addition dating back to 2010) gracefully pours on the power as desired.
$48,000 is a certainly a sizable chunk of change, but it doesn’t seem horribly steep for an SUV that comes close to being able to do it all. Like Jean, I’d certainly spring for the climate package — it’s a blessing in wintry weather, although the squiggly heated grid is occasionally annoying to peer through at dusk.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The LR4’s interior packaging is about as good as it gets, when it comes to seven-passenger SUVs that can carry seven real adults or, with the seats folded completely flat, as much stuff as most people can throw at it. I simply used it to commute (in fair weather), and, like Jean, I felt like I wasted its capability.
Unfortunately, like Joe DeMatio, I noticed that the interior didn’t feel like it was put together as rock-solidly as Land Rovers I’ve driven in the past few years. There’s a bit of looseness to some of the plastics around the center stack, for instance. Also, it apparently can’t be a Land Rover without some electrical gremlin: in this case, the auto-up function for the driver’s window was inoperable (the other three windows worked as designed)…
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Base price (with destination): $48,500
Price as tested: $54,250
5.0-liter V-8 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Permanent four-wheel drive
Two-speed electronic transfer gearbox
Variable locking center differential
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
All-terrain dynamic stability control
Hill decent control
Front and rear fog lamps
Automatic-dimming rearview mirror
Rear park distance control
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Electronic cruise control
Power tilt/slide sunroof
240-watt, 9-speaker sound system
Single CD player
Auxiliary audio input jack
Options on this vehicle:
7-Seat HSE package — $4250
7-seat comfort package
Hard disc drive navigation system
7-inch color touch-screen
LED signature lighting
Climate comfort pack — $1500
Heated seats and steering wheel
Heated front windshield and washer jets
Key options not on vehicle:
Vision assist package — $1800
Adaptive front lighting
Automatic high beam assist
Tow hitch assist
Surround camera system
Heavy duty package — $750
Locking rear differential
Full-size spare tire
12 / 17 / 14 mpg
Size: 5.0L V-8
Horsepower: 375 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 375 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Curb weight: 5617 lb
Wheels/tires 19 x 8.0-inch aluminum alloy wheels; 255/55R19 Continental 4×4 Contact all-season tires