2015 Land Rover LR4 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 8, 2015

The 2015 Land Rover LR4 is one of the few true SUVs left on the market; you'll value that if you're willing to trade off a little on-road nimbleness for uncompromised trail ability and top-notch interior comfort.

Without a doubt the most traditional looking of the luxury ute brand's current range, the 2015 Land Rover LR4 stands tall, with upright sides, sharp corners, and an uber-boxy look.

It could be seen as a relic, with unabashedly squared-off design, uncompromised off-road ability, and quintessentially British character throughout. Yet with a more fuel-efficient powertrain, reasonably coordinated on-the-road handling, and a comfortable ride and interior, it's definitely not as far out of step of the luxury mainstream as some might assume. 

The LR4 is best described as safari-chic—and an iteration of the Land Rover look that's carried forward with the Discovery in the 1990s and the LR3 the last decade. While the cabin is upright to match, you'll find the LR4's interior to have a good balance of form and function, with rich wood veneers and soft-touch materials and a clean control layout.

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We wouldn't call the 2015 Land Rover LR4 particularly nimble or capable on the road, although it's graceful in its own way—but better than you might expect given the tall, boxy proportions. The steering remains quite numb, but the LR4 doesn't at all feel as tipsy as the seating position initially suggests. Last year heralded an all-new powertrain for the LR4. While we said that the previous V-8 didn't really leave much room for improvement, fuel efficiency was its obvious sore point; and with a new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering just as much (if not more) real-world punch while being stingier on gas (now up to 15 mpg city, 19 highway), that's been addressed. With direct injection, supercharging, dual-independent variable cam timing, and a high (10.5:1) compression ratio, it's quite the modern engine, and makes 340 horsepower and a peak 332 pound-feet of torque. It'll pull 0-60 mph times of around 7.5 seconds—almost as quick as the V-8 model that preceded it -- while the ZF automatic transmission shifts smoothly and is prompt to downshift whenever needed.

The LR4 really hits its stride once the pavement ends; and in addition to that capable suspension, the 2015 Land Rover 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, and Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control modes, which help tackle steep slopes that are either loose or slippery.

Two off-road setups are offered. The base system has a single-speed Torsen transfer case, while with the Heavy Duty Package you get a two-speed transfer case with active-locking rear differential and full-size spare. And towing capability is strong—up to 7,716 pounds, properly equipped with a braked trailer.

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. and the cabin keeps both road noise and wind noise at bay—to a degree that you wouldn't expect in a vehicle with this sort of truck-like profile. The height-adjustable air suspension offers four settings: Access (lower for loading/unloading), Standard, Off-Road, and Extended.

There are three trim levels of the 2015 Land Rover LR4: base, HSE, and HSE LUX. The LR4 lineup has a price that starts around the $50k mark, it's not surprising that you get quite a few luxury and convenience features, even if you don't check a lot of option boxes. Whether or not to go with the seven-passenger layout (a $1,250 option) is probably one of the first decisions you should make. Then consider that opting for the HSE or HSE LUX models enables useful extras like the surround-view camera system and Trailer Hitch Assist, as well as more lavish interior trims. 

For 2015, infotainment systems have been upgraded, and LR4 models gain a new suite of InControl Apps, with Internet radio, location services, media streaming, and satellite navigation all available through special smartphone-based apps—with your iPhone or Android handset of choice connected via USB.

8

2015 Land Rover LR4

Styling

A classic, Safari-chic SUV layout inside and out, matched with modern finishes and details for the cabin, is what really sets the LR4 apart.

The LR4 received an all-encompassing redesign for 2011; although it could be argued that this model's fundamental design and silhouette haven't changed that much since the 1990s. Both the LR4 and its predecessor, the LR3, are takeoffs on the upright design that Land Rover seemed to perfect in the 1990s with the Discovery. While mechanically the LR3 and LR4 were mammoth leaps ahead, they tended to be quite evolutionary in a design sense.

That said, the LR4 (or Discovery, as it's called in other markets) is the most traditional-looking and conservative of Land Rover's current lineup. Continuing to distinguish itself with its boxy, upright heritage in the face of more car-like crossovers and their sleeker, sexier styles, the LR4 is, to our eyes. Safari-chic well executed, and the tall box-on-box body is well proportioned, perhaps the most instantly recognizable as from Land Rover, even though the brand has been taking off in a more rakish design direction with the latest Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Evoque.

Visually and aesthetically, the 2015 LR4 remains a relative outsider to the rest of the SUV class -- and that's something you won't escape from inside, with its very upright interior layout that you're likely to either love, or find off-putting. With the suave leather-trimmed dash, rich wood trim, and soft-touch materials introduced in recent years, plus the relatively good control layout, the LR4 feels traditional in mission, yet plush and contemporary in the details.

A number of eye-catching interior combinations help emphasize what separates the LR4 from the rest; and for 2015 there's a new Ebony/Cirrus Dual-tone Windsor Leather seating option, with a wood-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel. Separately, there's a new Straight Grained Walnut wood and leather steering wheel available, and four new colors are offered for the exterior: Aruba, Kaikoura Stone, Montalcino Red, and Yulong (metallic white).

There's also an optional Black Design Package, that includes special gloss-black treatments throughout, including to the grille, fender vents, and badging.

7

2015 Land Rover LR4

Performance

Truly in its element off-road but not completely clumsy on-road, the 2015 Land Rover LR4 is a performance pick for off-road purists.

Last year heralded an all-new powertrain for the LR4. While we said that the previous V-8 didn't really leave much room for improvement, fuel efficiency was its obvious sore point; and with a new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering just as much (if not more) real-world punch while being stingier on gas, that's been addressed.

Altogether there's a lot of inherent goodness in the LR4 -- provided you're willing to live with some of its on-the-road compromises. It offers ample power, rugged off-road ability, and comfortable (not quite nimble) off-road performance -- all countered with on-the-road handling that is by no means clumsy, yet not quite on the same level as now-popular crossovers.

For 2015, the sole engine for the LR4 remains a 3.0-liter V-6; direct injection, supercharging, dual-independent variable cam timing, and a high (10.5:1) compression ratio, it's quite the modern engine, and makes 340 horsepower and a peak 332 pound-feet of torque. It'll pull 0-60 mph times of around 7.5 seconds -- almost as quick as the V-8 model that preceded it -- while the ZF automatic transmission shifts smoothly and is prompt to downshift whenever needed.

That transmission is now shifted via a dial on the center console, while steering-wheel paddles can command individual shifts. It's a clever, almost jewel-like setup, with the shift knob 'disappearing,' flush with the center console when you turn off the ignition.

The 2015 LR4 is definitely not a crossover, and at around 6,000 pounds and one of the taller, most upright SUVs on the market, it won't be mistaken for one. But for a vehicle that approaches 6,000 pounds, it's a little more deft and athletic than you might think in the first few minutes that you're behind the wheel. First impressions lead you to think that the LR4 is a little tipsy, but as you find with more driving, it's more an adjustment in mindset due to the high driving position and tall sides.

Once you're past that, you'll find cornering 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.

As another by-product of all that height, and the tall tires and off-road kit, you'll find quite a bit of nosedive when braking hard; pedal feel has been much improved in recent years, however, compared to Land Rovers of the past.

The LR4 really hits its stride once the pavement ends; and in addition to that capable suspension, the 2015 Land Rover 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, and Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control modes, which help tackle steep slopes that are either loose or slippery.

Two off-road setups are offered. The base system has a single-speed Torsen transfer case, while with the Heavy Duty Package you get a two-speed transfer case with active-locking rear differential and full-size spare.

Towing capability is strong, too -- up to 7,716 pounds, properly equipped with a braked trailer.

8

2015 Land Rover LR4

Comfort & Quality

There's ample comfort for adults in the front two rows, although the third row is tight for all but the smallest kids.

The 2015 Land Rover LR4 has an interior that's laid out in a way that used to be more common among SUVs. You sit upright, with a great view of the road ahead from the well-placed driving position and a hood that seems low, in a relative sense, with the always visible, pronounced corners that have always been a Land Rover mainstay (and an asset when you're off-roading).

You definitely won't mistake the LR4 for a crossover, although the comfortable seats for the first and second rows are worthy of a vehicle with a luxury badge. In front, they include well-shaped bucket seats, with good support and infinitely adjustable armrests. Technically the second row is positioned a little higher than the first row, in a 'stadium' setup, although they might feel a little low to the floor to some. Overall, they might not have as much knee room or legroom, but passengers will enjoy relatively smooth ride comfort and a good view outward. 

The third-row seating, however, is a different story. It essentially flips up from the cargo floor. There's not much head room in that rearmost row, so it's definitely best left to small kids.

With two large glove boxes, large upholders, and abundant cubbies , there's plenty of room for stuff even when you have the LR4 full of passengers. And 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.

Ride quality is great, and the cabin keeps both road noise and wind noise at bay -- to a degree that you wouldn't expect in a vehicle with this sort of truck-like profile. The height-adjustable air suspension offers four settings: Access (lower for loading/unloading), Standard, Off-Road, and Extended.

8

2015 Land Rover LR4

Safety

The 2015 Land Rover LR4 still lacks official crash-test results, but its well-rounded safety set should bring confidence.

If you want the reassurance of crash-test results from either of two major agencies that conduct U.S. tests, be forewarned: They don't exist -- at least for the U.S. -- for the 2015 Land Rover LR4, and so you'll need to take a leap of faith.

That said, the LR4 covers all of the expected bases, with side airbags and curtain airbags that protect side occupants. Order a seven-seat model and the LR4 also gets separate side curtain bags to protect those rearmost occupants. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are also of course included, and they both with offer an integral off-road mode.

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.

8

2015 Land Rover LR4

Features

There's now a bigger gap in equipment between the LR4 and the Range Rover lineup; although refreshed infotainment systems help keep the LR4 up-to-date.

There are three trim levels of the 2015 Land Rover LR4 offered: base, HSE, and HSE LUX. Among them, you get the same 340-hp supercharged V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, and air suspension, along with full-time four-wheel drive. 

The LR4 lineup has a price that starts around the $50k mark, it's not surprising that you get quite a few luxury and convenience features, even if you don't check a lot of option boxes. Whether or not to go with the seven-passenger layout (a $1,250 option) is probably one of the first decisions you should make.

Dual-zone climate control, an awesome 11-speaker Meridian 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 can add navigation with traffic alerts, 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 and LUX models, though.

New to the LR4 lineup for 2015 is a suite of InControl Apps, with Internet radio, location services, media streaming, and satellite navigation all available through special smartphone-based apps. These apps are offered either through the Apple App Store or via Google Play (Android marketplace); it's simply a matter of having them installed and connecting via USB. Examples include iHeartRadio for Auto, Stitcher, Glympse, Sygic, Parkopedia, Hotelseeker, Cityseeker, and Eventseeker.

4

2015 Land Rover LR4

Fuel Economy

Despite the subbing-in of a supercharged V-6 last year, the 2015 LR4 is by no means an efficiency standout.

The new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission that were introduced to the LR4 lineup this past year made this model considerably more fuel-efficient than before. But don't expect this boxy, heavy SUV to be something that it's not.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2015 LR4 stand at 15 mpg city, 19 mpg highway; that's a huge improvement over the 12/17 mpg ratings of just a couple model years ago, when it was powered by a V-8 and six-speed automatic.

The LR4 also now comes with Intelligent Stop/Start, which uses a special twin-solenoid starter to shut the supercharged V-6 off at stoplights, to avoid prolonged idling when it's not needed, then starts it back up the instant you let up off the brake. The feature helps the LR4 get better mileage in real-world stop-and-go commuting conditions.

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September 26, 2016
2015 Land Rover LR4 4WD 4-Door HSE

This is a smooth driving and riding vehicle. Love It!!

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Fantastic - considered other vehicles, but this was my first and last choice.
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