Most contemporary SUVs are not much different from minivans, but the 2016 Land Rover LR4 is among a handful of models designed for rugged off-road duty. Along with a safari-like design, the LR4 brings in all the creature comforts customers demand in a modern five- or seven-passenger midsize SUV.
The 2016 Land Rover LR4 is a midsize SUV available in three trims: base, HSE and HSE Luxury. A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine is standard and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
A permanent four-wheel drive system is standard and is controlled by a panel located at the base of the center console. An available two-speed transfer gearbox provides shift-on-the-fly capability. The current edition is the fourth generation of an SUV series previously marketed as the Land Rover Discovery, LR2 and LR3.
A square profile and tall roof pillars are among the more notable features of the Land Rover LR4. This four-wheel drive SUV seems like it would be just as familiar plying the grasslands of the Masai Mara National Reserve as it would when navigating the teeming streets of Manhattan. That seems like a contradiction for most SUVs, but not so for Land Rover LR4.
The boxy lines of the LR4 demonstrate the heft of this near 3-ton SUV. Aerodynamics were hardly a concern when its designers crafted this model, which seems closer to the original 1948 Land Rover than any other vehicle offered by this British brand today.
The front fascia is marked by a broad grille with traditional headlamps. The lower grille opening is offset by recesses for the fog lamps. A broad hood, canted windshield and distinct wheel well moldings are present. This SUV’s slab side is marked by character lines, body sculpting and includes side steps. The rear quarter glass rises from just above the beltline to meet the roof. To the rear are oversized longitudinal combination lamps and a two-piece liftgate (the top section rises, the bottom section folds down).
The base LR4 offers seating for five, although a third-row package is available. The HSE and HSE Luxury trims provide standard seven-passenger seating.
This SUV’s interior is roomy and seems larger than it is, chiefly due to its tall pillars and the preponderance of glass. As equipped, this model came with front bucket seats, a 60-40 split-folding second row and a third-row seat. Hide the third-row seats and you have 42.1 cubic feet of storage room, but you will lose nearly all of it when the seats are in place.
The third-row seat offers surprising space, although it is best suited for a young teenager or adults in a pinch. Head- and legroom are adequate, shoulder and hip room are tight. In most midsize SUVs the third row is a penalty box, but Land Rover does an admirable job of making it bearable and supplies cup holders, storage and separate air vents to aid in that effort.
Leather, wood, and aluminum accents grace this SUV’s interior. The instrument panel offers a two-analog tachometer and speedometer display with a digital driver’s information center present. Cruise and audio controls are on the face of the steering wheel, and the steering column tilts and telescopes. The center stack is composed of a color display with climate, audio and four-wheel drive controls present. Start the LR4 up and a transmission dial emerges from its flush position in the center console as the LR4 comes to life.
Land Rover offers one powertrain in the LR4, which is entirely sufficient for this model. A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine making 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This SUV is EPA-rated at 15/19 mpg city/highway, but be forewarned: it consumes gas liberally and you’ll be hard-pressed to reach its combined 16 mpg rating.
On the road, the LR4 quickly and steadily moves up to highway speeds. Despite its tall profile, this SUV seems firmly planted and handles curves with enthusiasm. The ride is always smooth and the cabin is quiet.
Its off-road capabilities begin with the touch a switch, particularly the Terrain Response system located at the base of the center console. Multiple settings can be selected, including presets for grass, gravel, mud, sand and snow. Manage steep inclines with the Gradient Acceleration Control and you’ll find yourself tackling rocky outposts where other SUVs fear to tread. Its 10.2-inch ground clearance and a wading depth of 27.6 inches are important attributes. Activate the air suspension with manual lift function to optimize height management.
Perhaps the best technology features offered with the LR4 are available only through package options, though features like Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system are standard. Smartphone app integration requires choosing the HSE edition and adding an In-Control Apps package ($425).
Other tech upgrades include SiriusXM and HD Radio ($750) and a Vision Assist Package ($1,600). Vision assist goes beyond the standard safety package to bring in adaptive cruise control, a surround camera system and blind spot monitoring.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have conducted crash tests for the Land Rover LR4. This model does have two advantages: its high profile and heavy weight that tips the scales at just under 3 tons.
Besides traction and stability control, the Land Rover LR4 comes equipped with a rearview camera and a suite of air bags, including second-row head curtain air bags. Third-row airbags are included with the HSE and HSE Luxury editions — the two seven-seat models.
The 2016 Land Rover LR4 is priced from $50,400. HSE ($55,300) and HSE Luxury ($60,600) editions are available.
Add in such features as a black design pack ($3,500), rear seat entertainment ($2,500), a heavy-duty package ($1,350) and a vision assist package ($1,600), and your final price will approach $70,000. That price point represents the high end of the segment.
The Land Rover LR4 offers a traditional SUV look in a segment dominated by less off-road-worthy models, including the Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, Lexus GX, Acura MDX and Lincoln MKT. People who shop the LR4’s competitors may be more interested in how their SUV looks around town than what it can or cannot do off road. An important bonus is the LR4’s available tow package, which gives this SUV a 7,716-pound towing capacity.
Land Rover pricing begins slightly above the competition and soars far above other models when it is well equipped. Fuel consumption may be a big concern, especially since premium fuel is required.