Land Rover LR4

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Date Posted: December 20, 2012
By Zack Spencer

The LR4 is out of step with the trend to lighter crossover type SUV's. It doesn't handle well, it uses a ton of gas but there is still something about this SUV that is appealing.

The Scoop

Land Rover has been around since the late 1940 and was designed and built as a British alternative to the Jeep, which was used extensively during World War II. As the years went by, the more expensive and luxurious Range Rover line was developed and is still looked upon as a very exclusive machine to own. Land Rover continues their go-anywhere attitude but has improved the exterior and interior finish, to provide an experience that is close to a Range Rover but on a more modest budget. Don't kid yourself, Land Rover is still a premium brand but it competes closer to the other established European brands in terms of price. Sold as a 5-seat or 7-seat configuration, the closest European competition will be the GL-Class from Mercedes, the Audi Q7 and maybe the Volvo XC-90. There are many American brands that compete with this truck; the closest is the new Ford Explorer.

The Skin

Speaking of the Ford Explorer, there is a more than passing resemblance to this Land Rover, especially the front grille work. Maybe when Ford owned Land Rover, they picked up up a few styling tricks? As lower priced brands try to emulate the Land Rover, the real story is this LR4 is emulating the front design of the more expensive Range Rover. The front design is the most attractive element of the LR4; it has an aggressive and sophisticated look that helps take away from the overly boxy shape. The cabin of the LR4 sits very high off the ground and the roofline is flat and tall, providing a large amount of glass to see through. The back cargo door is actually a combination of two sections, a lower tailgate and a flip-up lift gate; this is similar to the BMW X5. There is no power function on either section, which is a drawback for buyers who are used to this feature.

The Cockpit

As mentioned the LR4 is equipped with 5 seats or for $2500, the 7-seat comfort package, provides two extra fold-flat seats in the rear cargo area. The front passengers are treated to the ''Command View'' seating position. With such a high seating position and roofline, the driver feels more like a navigator of a large ship. Other companies are trying to move to a more car-like driving attitude but Land Rover is all truck, don't think for a minute that this is a sporty vehicle. The rear seats have huge windows and a lot of legroom but smaller children will get a workout climbing into the LR4, it is that high off the ground. The dash is fitted with a small amount of wood trim and the touch-points are covered in soft materials but the rest of the cabin is more functional than luxurious. I found the radio/navigation unit to be slow and lag behind the commands, but this is true of all the Land Rover/Jaguar products.

The Ride

The LR4 runs on an air suspension instead of conventional springs. This is done to allow the vehicle to be raised for rougher terrain and lowered for easier access. There is also a Terrain Response system, which looks very similar to the one used in the new Ford explorer. This can be set for on-road pavement, sand, snow, gravel and off-road. The air suspension also helps overcome the truck-based chassis this LR4 is built from. It masks the ruggedness of the design and provides a pillow-soft touring feel, eating up rough city roads and gravel. It is only when the LR4 is cornering that the true truckiness shows its head. The handling is a compromise, one that owners will have to embrace in favour of off-road readiness. The motor is a 375hp 5.0L V8 matched to a 6-speed automatic. Considering the dimensions of the LR4, this drivetrain is surprisingly quick and the sound is reassuring. With all the mass being moved, the fuel consumption is appealingly bad, I was getting 21L/100km in city driving.

Verdict

The LR4 has so many knocks against it, like horrendous fuel consumption, flabby handling, slow navigation unit and no power tailgate but I thoroughly enjoyed driving it! Really. There is something about sitting up high, seeing the entire world unfurling below you and relaxing while navigation this big truck. It is like a slow-motion luxury cruise. My kids loved the room in the back seat and the view, plus my wife enjoyed the styling and Land Rover appeal. This LR4 is out of step with the current trend towards lighter crossover utility vehicles but owners of these British beasts absolutely love them. In fact, studies of Land Rover/Range Rover owners show some of the highest loyalty in the business. I'm guessing that they too overlook the shortcomings and focus on the attitude that a Land Rover provides.

The Good, The Bad

Good:

Land Rover heritage, huge cabin and off-road ready.

Bad:

Handles like an ocean liner, no power tailgate and it sucks fuel.

The Lowdown

Power: 5.0L V8 with 375hp

Backup: 4-year/80,000km

Sticker price: $59,990-70,790

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