Land Rover LR4 | A guilty pleasure.
By Jason Cammisa
Thank God for the optional third row of seats. Otherwise, it might seem a little gauche to lust after a 5800-pound luxury SUV with a rorty V-8 and a heated steering wheel. Not to mention five exterior cameras, three sunroofs, air suspension, and fourteen speakers. But who's counting?
Apparent excess notwithstanding, the mid-size Land Rover LR4 probably makes the most left-brain sense of any offering in the Land Rover lineup. With a starting price of $48,100, it's significantly less expensive than the similarly sized five-seat Range Rover Sport but offers a great deal more cargo space (90.3 versus 71 cubic feet).
The LR4 is full of strange compromises. Like all Land Rovers, its reputation for off-road prowess is undermined by its rap for unreliability - which just means that it might break down in an exotic locale. Its Terrain Response system is automobiledom's easiest way to set up a chassis - it adjusts the engine, transmission, differentials, suspension, and numerous electronic aids with one simple knob - and yet the touch-screen infotainment system is so cumbersome that you'll need to pull out the user manual to find your favorite radio station.
Compromises, though, can be charming, and the LR4 has charm in spades. Well, that and horsepower: the new Jaguar Land Rover direct-injected 5.0-liter V-8 makes 25 percent more power than the previous 4.4-liter engine, with no penalty in EPA tests. Land Rover says the truck will hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. This definitely isn't a sporty vehicle - the LR4 is so tall that, from inside, you look down on passengers in lowly minivans. Literally and figuratively.
Despite its new name, the LR4 is not a ground-up new model; it's a heavily updated LR3 with a host of upgrades to the powertrain, suspension, styling, and electronics. The new interior is both well designed and well executed, with loads of storage compartments and an available refrigerator in the center console. While Land Rover made its name fighting the perils of the African desert, it's the wealthy North American suburban jungle where this particular vehicle will live.
ON SALE: Now
Price: $48,100/$61,715 (base/as tested)
Engine: 5.0L V-8, 375 hp, 375 lb-ft