The LR4 is Land Rover's midrange model, but it ranks much higher as one of the more stylish and rugged sport utility vehicles on the market.
From the base LR2 to the extra-premium Range Rover, Land Rover products resonate with well-heeled adventurer types the world over. From clawing their way through near-impassable jungle to carefree cruising down suburban boulevards, these British-built off-roaders have been providing highly capable all-terrain transportation for more than 60 years. Land Rover as well as Jaguar were recently purchased from Ford by the India-based Tata Group, which is now beginning to place its stamp on these luxury-oriented brands.
The model that began as the LR3 back in 2005 has received a significant overhauling for the 2010 model year. It's enough change, says Land Rover, to earn the new LR4 designation. The most noticeable physical change is at the front end with a more stylish grille, bolder bumper and more modern headlamps. The back lights have been similarly updated and both now employ Light Emitting Diode brake and signal markers. The rest of the LR's blocklike design, including the distinctive asymmetrical tailgate glass, continues to set this Land Rover apart from the pack.
It's a different story inside the LR4's sumptuous cabin that continues to provide a commanding view for five passengers (seven with the optional third-row seat). The designers literally started from scratch, reorganizing the dashboard dials and switches for easier use and moving the center console closer to the driver. They also added LED ambient lighting and upgraded the real wood trim and leather seat coverings.
But perhaps the most important change is the new standard powerplant. The previous 300-horsepower 4.4-liter V-8 has been replaced by a 375-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8. This is essentially the same powerplant used in the Jaguar XF sedan and uses direct-injection technology, whereby the fuel is sprayed under very high pressure into each cylinder's combustion chamber instead of through the intake manifold. Emissions are reduced, there's improved fuel economy and more power.
For the LR4, the new V-8 has been slightly modified with a deeper oil sump to provide engine lubrication while the vehicle is operating under severe tilting angles when off-roading. In addition, a mechanical cooling fan has been added and various components, including the alternator, power-steering pump and starter motor, have been waterproofed.
A six-speed automatic transmission that was developed for the LR3 carries over on the LR4 with only minor modifications.
Land Rover claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds, which is lively for a 5,800-pound 4x4. On the downside, however, a V-8 pushing around that kind of weight simply murders fuel economy. The EPA rating is just 12/17 mpg city/highway. Certainly a hybrid powertrain would smarten things up as would a diesel. The latter is available in Europe and abroad, but, unfortunately, not here.
There are numerous suspension, braking and steering mods to report. Of particular note is an upgrade to the Terrain Response system, which optimizes the traction and stability control programs plus the anti-lock brakes according to road or trail conditions. A console-mounted control knob can be set for general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud, ruts and rock crawl. To that list, sand launch control has been added that keeps the LR4 from bogging down.
Both well-equipped SE and more luxury-laden HSE models are offered. The latter is equipped with rear climate controls, premium sound package, upgraded leather seats and a navigation system.
The LR4's base price is expected to nudge the $50,000 plateau, a reasonable sum given the added performance and enhanced luxury features, not to mention being secure in the knowledge that very few impediments will blunt this Land Rover's attack.