- Trail-ready toughness
- Excellent seats and driving position
- Comfy adult-size second row
- Cabin’s premium look
- Strong engine
- Handles every bit like an SUV
- Thirst for premium fuel
- Tight, hard-to-access third row
- Spotty reliability
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 takes on tough terrain with ease, and it's become more adept at imparting a carlike driving feel.
Last year Land Rover's rugged, mainstream LR3 model was given an upgraded interior, a new engine, and other improvements and renamed LR4. For 2011 Land Rover is making this serious off-roader even more capable with the addition of Hill Start Assist, Gradient Acceleration Control, and an improved Terrain Response system—plus several new standard features and options.
Visually, the LR4 is the most conservative and classic of Land Rover's models, other than the Range Rover. The LR4 was officially new last year, but its styling is mostly carried over from the former LR3. The upright, safari-chic look—with a tall, boxy body and short overhangs—shares plenty with the smaller LR2 and the big Range Rover-though it's certainly the most vertically inclined. The interior of the 2011 Land Rover LR4 excels in the details—something that wasn't necessarily true with its predecessor, the LR3. It's completely fresh and swaps out the plasticky bits of the former LR3 for a suave leather-trimmed dash with rich wood trim, softer-touch materials, and far more logical placement of controls.
With 375 horsepower on tap from its 5.0-liter V-8 engine, the heavy LR4 feels almost fleet and nimble, with plenty of power to move it to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission teams with four-wheel drive in a body that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds. The LR4 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers; the driving position is very tall, and it feels at first as if the LR4 is going to be tipsy in corners, but it maintains impressive composure in on-road cornering and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs.
Off-road is where it really hits its stride. A four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system (with separate modes commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes") help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2011 Land Rover LR4 without sacrificing on-road handling. And for 2011, Terrain Response has been improved, while new Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control modes help tackle steep slopes that are either loose or slippery.
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 is available in five- and seven-passenger versions, and both of them include top-notch comfort for the first two rows, a hushed, refined cabin, and a reasonably plush ride. The optional third-row seat is strictly for children, but the "pedestal" third row has an elevated roof for more headroom and can fit adults in an emergency—they'll find the seating position to be awkwardly high though. It's very difficult to access, but it tucks away nicely when not in use.
While the 2011 Land Rover LR4 starts just under $50,000, it feels every bit a premium luxury vehicle. The list of standard features is long and includes rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, while upper-level HSE LUX models get goodies like bi-xenon headlamps, power heated mirrors, a heated steering wheel, heated washer jets, a navigation system with off-road features, front park-distance control, and magnificent 550-watt premium surround sound. All 2011 Land Rover LR4 models now include Bluetooth connectivity, a feature that was previously offered only in the HSE. A colorful, high-contrast LCD touchscreen is included in all models to control audio and climate functions, as well as iPod connectivity.