The Car Connection Land Rover LR4 Overview
The Land Rover LR4 is a traditional SUV that blends sport-ute capability in off-road situations with seating for five or even seven passengers. Like other Land Rovers, it's also quite comfortable and capable on pavement, too.
The LR4 competes with other luxury sport utility vehicles such as the Volkswagen Touareg, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, the BMW X5, and Jeep's Grand Cherokee.
MORE: Read our 2016 Land Rover LR4 review
Land Rover introduced the LR4 in 2010 as a replacement for, and really a heavy update to, the previous LR3. These models stem from the Discovery, a nameplate that is still used on the LR4 in markets outside the U.S. The LR4 took the LR3's basic design and added finer detailing on the interior and exterior. The top model in the Land Rover sub-line, the LR4 is pleasant on the road, but perhaps the most capable utility the company makes when it comes to trail driving.
Tthe LR4 combines tried and true mechanicals with newer electronic controls, including LR's Terrain Response system, which offers a handful of modes selectable through a console-mounted knob. An adaptive suspension and other high-tech aids keep the LR4 moving in almost any kind of weather or terrain, many of which would be difficult or impossible for other SUVs or crossovers to survive in.
The LR4's exterior look is tall and tough, with handsome straight lines and rounded corners. You might call it conservative, as it's the most classic in appearance of the current Land Rover lineup. The upright, safari-chic look harks straight back to original Land Rovers of the 1950s, but details like the headlamps and taillights, along with the blacked-out A-pillar, give it a contemporary edge. Inside, there's rich wood trim, an available leather-trimmed dash, and details like soft premium leather with contrast stitching—all things that outdo the previous LR3. The latest instrument panel controls also make more sense and feel less cobbled/cluttered than those in the LR3.
While the LR4 has three rows of seating, the third row is just for kids only. Outward vision is good, thanks to the high seating position and tall glass. The second row is quite comfortable, positioned slightly higher in a "stadium" layout. Both the second and third rows can be folded flat to open up to 90 cubic feet of cargo space. Safety features—just as the layout itself—are family-friendly, with side-curtain bags that protect the rearmost occupants, and parking sensors and a rearview camera system that aid visibility in the driveway or parking lot.
Though very capable, the LR4 includes plenty of luxury items. Items such as an 11-speaker Meridian sound system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity and a dual-zone climate-control system are standard. The higher trim levels add navigation, parking sensors, power heated mirrors, and a heated steering wheel, while things like adaptive headlights, HID lighting, further audio upgrades, and a small refrigerator are available.
For the first three model years of its life cycle, there were relatively few updates to the LR4. In the 2011 model year, the LR4 gained hill start assist, hill descent control, and an improved version of Terrain Response (all useful off-road aids). For 2012, Land Rover updated the LR4's navigation system to include real-time traffic and voice controls. Changes for the 2013 model year were mostly cosmetic: a set of five new exterior colors, two new interior themes, a new Black Design package with gloss black exterior accents, and an uprated leather package with Windsor leather and twin-stitch seams were added.
For the 2010 to 2013 model years, the LR4 was powered by a 375-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine. It was impressive, able to rocket the nearly 6,000-pound SUV to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. In 2014, Land Rover swapped in its new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission, a combination that delivers more real-world power and is more fuel-efficient than the V-8. With 340 horsepower and a peak 332 pound-feet of torque, the supercharged six can pull 0-60 mph times that are almost as quick as the V-8 model that preceded it. The ZF automatic transmission shifts smoothly and is prompt to downshift whenever needed.
Infotainment offerings were upgraded for 2015 and again for 2016. In 2015, the LR4 gained a suite of InControl Apps, with internet radio, location services, media streaming, and satellite navigation are available through special smartphone-based apps. The same system has been appearing through out Jaguar and Land Rover's lineups and is part of an improvement to their existing infotainment systems, which have been sub-par for some time. For 2016, the infotainment system gets a new home screen with easier access to the navigation, phone, and audio command trees.
A new edition of the Land Rover LR4 is expected to be introduced within a year or two. Like the LR2 that has morphed into the Discovery Sport, it could be rebadged as a returning member of the Discovery family of Land Rovers. The name change would certainly be a welcome alternative to LR5 or whatever confusing alphanumeric Land Rover would come up with for the new version. The unnamed model is likely to gain a diesel powertrain in the U.S., as the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have added one as an option for 2016.