2011 Land Rover LR4
Base price: $48,500
As tested: $51,600
MPG: 12 city/17 highway
- On-road comfort, off-road prowess
- Three rows of roomy, luxurious seating
- Nicely restyled inside and out
- Dismal gas mileage
- Questionable reliability issues
- Boxy style not for everyone
By Jim Prueter
(This review was originally written March 2010 about that year’s LR4. Little of substance has changed for 2011. The review has been upgraded to include what’s new for 2011.)
For 2010, Land Rover’s mid-sized Discovery SUV gained a new name, LR4, and along with it a more powerful new V-8 engine. Visibly, the general exterior shape and size remains unchanged, however exterior design elements have been updated with an all-new grille, LED headlamps, and more aerodynamic front bumper. Rear taillights now have a clear-lens design and have moved to LED illumination.
The interior was also completely redesigned with the chunky plastic parts that adorned most of the outgoing mode replaced with smoother surfaces and softer materials. There’s also a new dash and a center console that inclines toward the driver. New LED ambient lighting illuminates the cabin and white LED halos around the metal-plated interior door handles and door pockets for a much-needed upgrade.
There’s a new steering wheel, with revised controls for driver information, remote audio controls, and cruise control. It’s even heated if you check the box for that option. First- and second-row seating have been redesigned with extended front seat cushions. Five- and seven-passenger seat configurations are also available. There’s even a slick feature that includes a forward-looking camera to help see the obstacles ahead when you’re off-roading.
The new 5.0-liter V-8 engine was developed by a joint engineering team from the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, organized by their owner, Indian conglomerate Tata. The Jaguar version of the 5.0-liter V-8 powers the new XF sports sedan that we raved about and named a AAA Top Pick for 2010. The LR4 version of the engine delivers 375-horsepower, 25 percent more that the outgoing 4.4-liter V-8 it replaces. It’s teamed with the super-smooth six-speed automatic transmission.
For 2011, the LR4 is available in a choice of three models with a base price of $48,500, including shipping. The HSE starts at $52,750 and the HSE LUX starts at $57,665. The models build on one another, and prices include all the features from a lower package.
For 2010, we tested a fully equipped LR4 with the LUX Plus that included 7-passenger seating, premium leather interior, Bi-Xenon headlamps with high beam assist, a console cooler box for keeping beverages cold, 480-watt 14-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system, rear camera backing system, 19-inch alloy wheels, front park distance control, navigation system with 7-inch color touch screen, and satellite radio. Our tester also included the $2,500 optional rear seat entertainment system with dual headrest display screens and remote control operation.
For 2011, Land Rover supplied us with a base LR4 that added optional black lacquer finish trim ($350), a climate comfort pack with heated seats and steering wheel, heated front windshield, and washer jets ($1,500), and rear seat climate package that adds third-row seating, curtain airbags, and rear climate controls ($1,150).
The LR4 has incredible off-road capabilities thanks to its Terrain Response System, a console-mounted dial-operated select knob for a variety of road condition settings including snow-grass-gravel, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl. We have driven previous LR generations off-road and have found them to have capabilities far exceeding what most drivers will ever need. And, given the vehicle’s price, it’s doubtful most well-to-do owners will ford anything deeper than a puddle or hop anything higher than a curb at the country club.
That doesn’t diminish the immense capabilities of the LR4. And of course not everyone who buys $175 running shoes jogs. Still, I was surprised to learn from Land Rover that an amazing 40 percent of their owners take their Rovers off-road. Those drivers are helped by the fact that four-corner electronic air suspension with automatic load leveling, hill descent control, emergency brake assist, antilock braking, and electronic brakeforce distribution, and stability control are all standard equipment.
The new 375-horepower V-8 was noticeably more powerful than the previous generation’s 300-horespower engine, something that’s necessary to move this Rover’s nearly three tons of curb weight around. That’s several hundred pounds heavier than a Chevrolet Suburban, something that hits the wallet since the LR4 gets only 12 miles per gallon of premium gas.
The added weight is attributed to the heft of the LR4’s unique suspension, which uses a car-like unibody construction mounted on a truck-style frame. Most vehicles use one or the other, but not both. The benefit is a rattle-free car-like ride on paved surfaces along with the off-road toughness and towing capacity of a truck.
Standard safety gear includes a six-airbag supplemental restraint system, side-door impact beams for the front and rear doors, child locks for rear doors and windows, and a lower anchor and tether for children system (called “LATCH”) for child seats. The LR4 has not been crash tested by either the U.S. government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The LR4 is a terrific sport-utility vehicle if go-anywhere capability and luxury are important to you, so long as budget and gas mileage aren’t concerns. If you have no intention of going off-road with your vehicle, however, we think you’re better off with an X5 BMW, Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, or Lincoln MKT.
Unfortunately, the Land Rover/Range Rover and LR brands have a history of reliability problems.
New 2011 highlights include:
- Hill start assist and gradient acceleration control, which help the driver negotiate severe slopes encountered in off-road driving conditions.
- Bluetooth phone connectivity is now standard on base LR4.
- 7-seat comfort package is added to HSE and HSE LUX. This includes third-row seat, head curtain airbags, climate control, map lamps, and an accessory power socket.
- Rear view camera standard with HSE — it was previously optional.
- Halogen headlamps on the HSE package now include LED signature lighting.
- Climate comfort package is now a standalone option on LR4 base model and HSE. It’s included in the HSE LUX.
- Premium audio upgrade is available on HSE package.
- Black lacquer finish is a new interior trim option.
There are no significant changes to either the exterior or interior design for 2011.