2012 Land Rover LR4 Performance

7.0
Performance

Its BMW and Ford roots moving into its past now, the Land Rover LR4 carries over its drivetrain from a 2010 revamp, and it's a thirsty setup, but one with lots of off-road grunt and muscle.

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.

It's not clumsy on pavement, but the Land Rover LR4 truly shines when the pavement goes away.

It may not be as effective on pavement as a crossover vehicle, but the LR4 is uniquely suited to off-roading. While you're on the road, the LR4 can feel a littly tipsy: it rides high, but cornering ability actually is impressive, thanks to a fully independent suspension coupled to height-adjustable air springs. It leans into every corner, and doesn't inspire drivers to seek out more canyon roads, but the LR4 doesn't feel unsettled as it bends into curves--it just telegraphs its size and its original intent.

The LR4 hits its stride when the pavement disappears. The adaptable suspension teams up here with Terrain Response, LR's off-road system that uses electronics to control different driving behaviors, which the driver can choose by a rotating knob on the console ("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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