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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.
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.