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.