Full 2011 Land Rover LR4 Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 carries over unchanged except for some tweaks to its adjustable terrain system and options packages.
One of just a few automotive brands in the U.S. to exclusively market SUVs, Land Rover attracts more attention for its Range Rover luxury vehicles than its smaller, equally well-appointed hill-climbers like the LR2 and LR4. And that's a shame, because few vehicles excite the adventurous sense quite like an LR4. Its burnished all-terrain reputation and generous interior space make it a poster car for wanderlust. And where a bigger Rover cocoons you with its genteel English manner, the LR4 encourages you to take the bumpier route overland.
Land Rover did the bulk of its makeover work on the LR4 last year, evolving it from the LR3 with one key addition: a 375-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 that replaced an underachieving 4.4-liter V8. The 2011 Land Rover LR4 carries on unchanged save for new features in its Terrain Response System and a shuffling of options packages. And that's just as well, as the LR4 makes a strong case for not fixing what isn't broke. For the money, few vehicles offer its nearly unhittable combination of luxury and utility.
For 2011, the LR4 features Hill Start Assist, which holds brake pressure as the driver moves from brake to throttle when starting on an incline or climbing. Meanwhile Gradient Acceleration Control (GAC) helps slow the LR4 when starting down a steep grade by modulating the brakes, and works even when normal Hill Descent Control is not engaged. GAC also works in reverse, a nifty feature that will be appreciated by anyone who's lost their nerve approaching a blind crest.
But given that the roughest terrain most LR4s will encounter is a Whole Foods parking lot, Land Rover has infused it with an air suspension to absorb pavement unrest, a rich, soft-touch interior and the contemporary tech amenities that luxury SUV buyers expect (including the overdue inclusion of Bluetooth as standard equipment). On this count, few vehicles can match the LR4's features/price ratio.
But though the 2011 Land Rover LR4 might be a bargain in the showroom, it exacts its premium -- of the 91 octane variety -- at the pump. It is rated at just 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, significantly below most other competing models. And the long-term reliability of Land Rover is still suspect. Buyers who don't need the LR4's formidable off-road chops or eight cylinders might consider the 2011 Audi Q7, 2011 BMW X5 or 2011 Porsche Cayenne. And for nearly $10,000 less, a fully loaded, all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers legitimate trail-busting ability and a comfortable spread.
None of those choices provide the LR4's generous cargo capacity, however. And for those seeking a powerful and well-appointed SUV, a measure of boulevard envy and occasional -- or even regular -- backwoods adventures, the Land Rover LR4 doesn't disappoint.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 is a midsize luxury SUV offered in a single trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear foglights, heated exterior mirrors, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power tilt-and-slide front sunroof, a fixed rear sunroof, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker stereo with an in-dash CD changer.
The HSE and HSE LUX packages offer additional features. The HSE package adds different 19-inch wheels, third-row seats, rear-seat climate control, a rearview camera, satellite and HD radio, an iPod interface and a hard-drive-based navigation system. The HSE LUX package tacks on the Climate Comfort group (front and rear heated seats, a heated windshield, heated washer jets and a heated steering wheel), adaptive bi-xenon headlights, front parking sensors, premium leather upholstery, a center console cooler box, driver seat memory settings and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
Some of the features offered in the above packages are offered as stand-alone options. Other optional features include 20-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, a rear-seat entertainment system with six-DVD changer, and a 360-degree parking camera system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 LR4 is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 375 hp and 375 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to a full-time four-wheel-drive system.
Using a knob mounted in the center console, the driver can select one of five settings (general, grass/gravel/snow, sand, mud and ruts, and rock crawl) that optimizes engine, transmission and suspension settings for the conditions at hand. The LR4's fully independent suspension also uses electronically controlled air springs to automatically adapt to virtually any terrain or off-road challenge.
In Edmunds testing, an LR4 ran from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds -- not bad for a vehicle that weighs about 5,700 pounds. No surprise, then, that it rates just 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. Properly equipped, the LR4 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Safety features on the 2011 Land Rover LR4 include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control (with rollover mitigation technology), hill descent and gradient control (limits initial acceleration down an incline), hill start assist, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags (including the third-row seat when selecting the HSE Lux package or stand-alone third-row seat option).
In Edmunds brake testing, an LR4 came to rest from 60 mph in 126 feet, an average distance for a luxury SUV.
Interior Design and Special Features
The LR4's interior doesn't swaddle passengers in silky grades of premium leather like the high-buck Range Rover, yet it leaves little to want. The seats, steering wheel, dash and console use high-quality materials that feel rich to the touch. Stadium-style rear seating (with ample leg- and headroom) along with large side windows and a fixed rear sunroof contribute to the cabin's expansive feel.
The assorted switchgear, dials and gauges -- even the analog clock -- look and feel modern, as do the high-tech features, which range from a five-camera 360-degree parking-assist system to a touchscreen navigation unit that can track your course off-road. The LR4 shines in its more customary role as urban/suburban mover with fold-flat second- and (available) third-row seating. Raising and lowering them can be a struggle, but 90 cubic feet of cargo space is the worthwhile result.
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 shares its powerful V8 with its distant Jaguar relatives, erasing a power deficit that plagued the preceding LR3, while the six-speed transmission is quick-witted and smooth. Tight steering helps the LR4 feel crisp and maneuverable in parking lots and campgrounds, but its tall profile and high center of gravity limit its handling abilities in corners and curves. Still, the highway ride -- where we envision the LR4 will serve the bulk of its duty -- is quite comfortable. The minority of owners who press the LR4 into regular off-road service, however, will be rewarded with one of the stoutest and most capable four-wheel-drive systems on the market.