2013 Land Rover LR4 Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
October 26, 2012

The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is a confident, capable off-roader with an upscale luxury interior, but it's all SUV--and it drives like it.

With new appearance and feature options for 2013, the Land Rover LR4 offers buyers off-road capability in its traditional, boxy form. For 2013, the LR4 gets five new exterior colors, a new extended leather package, and a new Black Design package that includes black alloy wheels and exterior accents.

While it's the most traditional-looking of Land Rover's current range, with tall, upright sides and boxy angles meeting short overhangs in a package that's best described as safari-chic. The LR4's cabin is a good balance of form and function, with rich wood veneers and soft-touch materials and a clean control layout--and without any plasticky bits.

As tall and boxy as it is, the 2013 Land Rover LR4 is nonetheless graceful in its own way. Steering is a bit numb and slow on the road, but is very controllable, as is the chassis. Four-wheel drive makes the LR4 stable in bad weather, though the nearly 6,000-pound vehicle does still require grip to slow and turn. With a potent 5.0-liter, 375-horsepower V-8 engine under the hood, the LR4 is relatively brisk at 7.5 seconds to 60 mph. A six-speed automatic transmission isn't the supernumerary wonder found in modern sedans, but it shifts smoothly and ties in brilliantly to the LR4's off-road capabilities, which are impressive.

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Hill Start Assist, Gradient Acceleration Control, and Terrain Response systems all come together in the 2013 LR4 to deliver on the SUV's rugged underpinnings, as well as the four-corner height-adjustable air suspension. Impressively capable on the trails, on a wide variety of surfaces--the Terrain Response even has specific settings for many conditions, like "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes".

With either five- or seven-passenger seating, the LR4's cabin is refined and quiet, with excellent comfort for the first and second rows, even for taller occupants. The ride is rather plush as well.

Starting at $49,950 for 2013, the LR4 feels luxurious throughout, with ample features and available options. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, rear parking distance control, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and dual-zone climate control among other features. Step up to the HSE to get access to the optional Premium Leather package and power-adjustable side bolsters, or the HSE Lux for goodies like a center console cooler, interior mood lighting, and access to the optional Extended Leather Package.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Styling

The 2013 Land Rover LR4 has classic looks, but also tasteful, modern details.

Conservative, conventional--these don't have to be curse words, do they? The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is, even alongside the Range Rover (especially so next to the all-new 2013 model) the most traditional of Land Rover's range. Having grown from the Discovery into the LR3 and now the LR4, the 2013 model continues to distinguish itself with its boxy, upright heritage in the face of more car-like crossovers and their sleeker, sexier styles.

The 2013 LR4's look works, to our eyes. Safari-chic well executed, the tall box-on-box body is nonetheless well proportioned, perhaps the most instantly recognizable Land Rover despite its differences from the rest of the line.

For 2013, only minor updates tweak the LR4's exterior, with a new Black Design package offering 19-inch or 20-inch black painted wheels, and gloss black treatment of the grille, fender vents, door handles, mirror caps, and badging. Five new exterior colors are also available, including Havana (Brown), Barolo Black, Barossa, Mariana Black and Causeway Grey. A new seven-spoke 19-inch wheel is available on the HSE Lux model; others come standard with twin-seven-spoke 19-inch wheels, with 20-inch wheels available.

Inside, the LR4's cabin is a welcome upgrade from the previous LR3. Even though its had a few years to fade from our memories, it's reassuring to see none of the LR3's plasticky bits in the LR4. Instead, it swaps in a suave leather-trimmed dash, rich wood trim, softer-touch materials, and a better control layout. As you step up the range and options list, the look and feel just gets better. For 2013, two new interior colors are available: Arabica (brown) seats with nutmeg stitching and Ivory seats with Ivory stitching. Two new trim lines are also available: Grand Ivory Lacquer veneer with an Ebony dashboard, and Grand Black Lacquer veneer which includes new gloss black switches on the steering wheel.

On the other hand, the Land Rover aesthetic--present in strength in the LR4--may not suit everyone with its proliferation of control buttons instead of a centralized, touch-screen interface for most functions.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Performance

The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is truly in its element off-road, and manages to avoid true clumsiness on pavement.

With ample power from a single V-8 engine, rugged off-road ability, and comfortable, if not nimble, on-road performance, the Land Rover LR4 is unchanged in terms of performance for 2013--but it doesn't really need much improvement.

The LR4's sole engine is a 5.0-liter V-8, shared with Jaguar and impressively responsive as a result. The 375-horsepower V-8 relieves some of the hefty driving feel of the LR4--it's almost quick now, with LR estimates putting a 0-60 mph run at about 7.5 seconds. It's a smooth shifter, too, with a six-speed automatic fused to its four-wheel-drive system, but ultimately, performance is instantly recognizable as SUV--mostly, because the LR4 sits high and weighs almost 6,000 pounds.

While it's certainly no crossover--no one will car the LR4's handling "carlike"--the LR4 is very capable off-road. If you're still on the road, however, the LR4's high driving position and tall sides can yield a tipsy sensation, but cornering ability is surprisingly good, owing to the LR4's fully independent suspension and height-adjustable air springs. Body roll is noticeable, however, and the steering is vague and numb enough to discourage any spirited on-road driving. All in, the LR4 is capable and comfortable on the road, but it makes its size and weight, as well as its off-road intent, known.

Once the pavement ends, however, the LR4 hits its stride. In addition to the capable suspension, the LR4 packs Land Rover's brilliant off-road electronics, including Terrain Response, which lets the driver set the traction control and other drivetrain parameters to suit the grip conditions--with handily labeled modes like "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes."  A central-locking differential engages when conditions warrant maximum grip. Terrain Response has seen regular improvements over the years, and in 2011 it added Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control modes, which help tackle steep slopes that are either loose or slippery.

Land Rover also upgraded the LR4's brakes in the 2010 model year, for shorter stopping distances as well as better pedal feel. They do feel improved, but there's still a lot of nosedive and excess body motion when you stomp on the brakes firmly.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Comfort & Quality

The first two rows of the 2013 Land Rover LR4 offer ample comfort for adults, but the third row is kids-only.

You'll have a great view of the road ahead from the well-placed driving position and consequently low-seeming hood. Comfortable seats in both the front and second rows enhance the ease of driving the LR4--though you won't mistake it for a crossover. Well-shaped bucket seats up front offer good support and infinitely adjustable armrests, though there's a bit less side-to-side knee room due to the wide center console.

Second-row passengers will also find themselves comfortable, with ample room and supportive seats. A high step-in and stadium-style seating, which positions the second-row seats slightly higher than the front seats, differentiate the LR4 from a crossover.

The third-row seating, however, is best reserved for those who need it, and often. With further stadium-seating positioning, head room in the third row is decreased, leaving room only for children or small adults.

Two large glove boxes, large upholders, and abundant cubbies make for enough room even when the LR4 is full of passengers. When it's time to haul gear and not people, the second and third row seats can be folded completely flat, exposing up to 90 cubic feet of space.

The predecessor LR3 hasn't had the best reputation for reliability, and the LR4 swaps in new electronic controls for the entire vehicle and a new engine--so buyers should understand both before signing on.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Safety

An excellent set of standard and available safety features balance against the 2013 Land Rover LR4's lack of official crash testing.

However, it does have the mandatory features covered, from side airbags and curtain airbags that protect the front two rows of seats, to anti-lock brakes and stability control, both with an integral off-road mode. Order a seven-seat model and the LR4 also gets separate side curtain bags to protect those rearmost occupants.

Like the 2012 model before it, the 2013 Land Rover LR4 hasn't been crash-tested by the the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), but it comes with all of the usual standard safety features, as well as some of its own electronic safety upgrades.

However, it does have the mandatory features covered, from side airbags and curtain airbags that protect the front two rows of seats, to anti-lock brakes and stability control, both with an integral off-road mode. Order a seven-seat model and the LR4 also gets separate side curtain bags to protect those rearmost occupants.

Other available options include active swiveling headlamps; a surround camera package that includes Tow Assist and optional Automatic High Beam Assist for better visibility; plus parking sensors.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Features

Features, both standard and optional, abound in the LR4, nearly rivalling the more expensive Range Rover.

The Land Rover LR4 is priced from about $50,000, so it's not surprising to find a raft of luxury features in each one.

Priced from $50,000, the Land Rover LR4 includes most of the luxury features you'd expect, plus a few all its own. Dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, power accessories, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and leather upholstery are all standard. Opt for the HSE model and you'll add navigation with off-road mapping, park distance control, an 825-Watt audio upgrade, a heated steering wheel, and heated side mirrors. With the HSE Lux you get even more luxury with a center console cooler box, interior mood lighting, and access to the (optional) Extended Leather Package, which includes premium soft Windsor leather with twin-stitch detailing to the top of the dashboard and doors, armrest, instrument cluster, and grab handles.

On the options list for the LR4 are satellite radio; a cooler box; and adaptive headlights. There's also a safety package that bundles HID headlamps, adaptive front lighting, automatic high-beam assist, an upgraded surround camera system, power-folding mirrors, and Trailer Assist and Trailer Hitch Assist. It's offered only on the HSE models, though.

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2013 Land Rover LR4

Fuel Economy

A traditional seven-seat SUV with a powerful V-8, the 2013 Land Rover LR4 gets poor gas mileage, even among its peers.

Large, powerful SUVs with good off-road performance have never been known for great--or even good--fuel economy. The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is no exception.

In fact, at an EPA-rated 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway, the LR4 is among the worst in its class--or compared to larger SUVs. Even Chevy's Tahoe beats it handily.

With some models offering only five-passenger capacity, and the LR4's low gas mileage scores, it earns a very low rating from The Car Connection. For owners, the poor mileage is compounded by the fact that the Land Rover LR4 requires premium fuel, adding to the expense.

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