The 2014 Land Rover LR4 is in a class of its own. No other SUV delivers its combination of luxury accommodations, spacious seating for up to seven people and off-road capability.
What Is It?
The 2014 Land Rover LR4 is a seven-passenger, four-wheel-drive SUV that represents the middle ground in the Land Rover lineup above the LR2 and below the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Beginning in 2014, Land Rover replaced the LR4's 375-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 with a more efficient 340-hp supercharged V6. An eight-speed automatic transmission also takes over for the six-speed. As with other Land Rover vehicles, the LR4's off-road capabilities are unusual among other luxury SUVs. For 2015, it carries over largely unchanged with only a few additional features.
With a base price of $50,625, the basic LR4 is luxuriously equipped with air-ride suspension and leather upholstery. Our test vehicle was nearly fully loaded with features including premium leather, a third row of seats, a cooler box in the center armrest, premium audio, adaptive headlights, blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system and off-road upgrades. These options push the as-tested price to $68,475.
How Does It Drive?
With a tap of the start button, the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 springs to life and a knurled metal gear selector knob rises from the center console. Acceleration is strong, reaching 60 mph in only 6.9 seconds, which is 0.6 second quicker than its V8-powered predecessor. Much of the credit goes to the new eight-speed transmission that allows the engine to stay in its sweet spot. The sound of the burly V8 is gone, replaced by a satisfying high-pitched whine from the V6's supercharger. Merging on to highways and passing slower traffic is surprisingly effortless, considering the hefty 5,800-pound curb weight.
Coming to a stop from 60 mph requires 123 feet, which is good for a large SUV. In panic braking stops, the exaggerated nosedive can be unsettling, but the LR4 remains composed and distances are consistent after repeated runs. In everyday driving the brake pedal is soft but predictable.
Without any passengers or cargo, the LR4's ride quality is stiffer than the typical luxury SUV, which is a product of its off-road capabilities. Over broken pavement, there's some jostling but there's no impact harshness. The stiffness does little to instill confidence on a twisting mountain pass, as nothing can overcome the physics of its tall ride height and body roll. Long before any handling limit is reached, the stability control intervenes by gently reducing power.
On-pavement cornering is certainly not one of the LR4's strong points. It was meant for off-road adventures over rough terrain. If you want sporty handling with off-road ability, the Range Rover Sport is a better choice. Towing capacity maxes out at 7,700 pounds, which is better than primary competitors.
How Is It Off-Road?
Standard LR4 models are plenty capable off the beaten path thanks to clever electronics, a narrow body and the air suspension that provides 9.5 inches of ground clearance in off-road mode (standard mode is 7.3 inches). Further enhancing abilities is a wading depth of 27.6 inches and approach and departure angles of 36.2 and 29.6 degrees, respectively.
Our test vehicle came equipped with the optional Heavy Duty package that adds a two-speed transfer case, a locking center differential and an active locking rear differential for even greater adventure capabilities. Accessing the LR4's off-road prowess is incredibly civilized, as the driver only needs to put the transmission in neutral and select a Terrain Response mode. Standard modes include Gravel/Grass/Snow, Sand and Mud/Ruts. The Heavy Duty package adds a Rock Crawl mode. Within a few seconds, the ride height raises and the system alters response for the engine, transmission, stability and traction control systems and differentials to best suit conditions.
We spent the better part of an afternoon climbing and descending steep inclines, fording streams and conquering deep ruts. It's reassuringly effortless, requiring restraint on the throttle more than anything else. On some of the more challenging obstacles, a slow and steady approach got the LR4 to the top while modified Jeeps and pickups became bogged down short of the summit. Coming down is even easier since the hill descent control applies the brakes to appropriate wheels individually, requiring only steering from the driver.
If there's a weak spot in the LR4's off-road ability, it is the optional 20-inch wheels, which easily sustain cosmetic damage in this kind of use.
How Is the Interior?
Drivers will immediately notice the LR4's elevated ride height and tall windows that provide an expansive view. There's an abundance of headroom, making the cabin feel open and airy. Materials used are up to luxury car standards, and the pricey HSE Lux package further improves the interior with premium leather surfaces, a cooled beverage box in the center armrest and a 17-speaker Meridian surround-sound system.
Many of the switches and knobs in the LR4 are shared with other Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles and benefit from a premium quality and heft. Unfortunately, the small and outdated infotainment system is also carried over. The touchscreen is distant and angled away from the driver, forcing an inconvenient reach and making it prone to reflective glare. To its credit, however, it is intuitive to use. New for 2015 is an optional suite of in-car apps.
Front seats are roomy and well-shaped for comfortable touring. The adjustable side bolsters for the driver (part of the HSE package) also provide good lateral support when tackling challenging terrain. We were comfortable for several hours whether on- or off-road.
Second-row passengers enjoy excellent outward visibility thanks to an elevated stadium-like seat height, while the stepped roof line provides generous headroom, but the seat cushions may seem too short in length and mounted too low for taller occupants. Unlike in most three-row SUVs, the LR4's two rearmost seats are appropriately sized for adults. Accessing those seats does require an inelegant crawl past the exposed metal latches of the folded second-row seats, however.
Cargo space behind the third row is limited to only 9.9 cubic feet, which is just enough for a few golf bags or carry-on suitcases. Folding those seats is easy after some practice and increases available cargo capacity to 42.1 cubic feet, which is about average for the class, but the LR4's boxy shape easily accommodates bulkier items. With the ride height lowered to access height, cargo loading is even easier. The second row folds and then can be pushed down to provide a flat cargo floor, expanding maximum capacity to a generous 90.3 cubes.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Get?
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway), which is below average for SUVs in this class. We confirmed these estimates with an 18.9 mpg average on our highway-heavy evaluation loop and 14.6 mpg overall.
What Safety Features Are Available?
In addition to typical and mandated safety features, the 2014 LR4 also comes standard with trailer stability assist, hill descent control, hill start assist, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Included with our test vehicle were the optional blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alerts and surround-view monitor systems. The 2015 models further benefit from an optional adaptive cruise control system with forward collision alert.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
There isn't another vehicle sold today that offers both the LR4's luxury credentials and off-road capabilities. The Lexus LX 570 is about as close as you'll get, with impressive all-terrain abilities, but it's not as roomy inside, it's quite a bit slower and the interior feels dated. The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is as accommodating for seven adults as the LR4 and features a thoroughly modern and luxurious cabin, but it's limited to very light off-road duties.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
The 2014 Land Rover LR4 is a rare vehicle that is equally at home in urban environments and in genuinely demanding off-road environments. It will climb sandstone cliffs in Moab, Utah, as comfortably as it navigates a mall parking lot in Newport Beach, California. Spacious seating in all three rows further distinguishes the LR4 from competitors. More importantly, though, its off-road capability doesn't demand significant sacrifices when it comes to everyday drivability.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
If premium luxury, sleek styling and cutting-edge technology rank highly among your priorities, the LR4 will fall short of your expectations. Poor fuel economy is a consideration and there's no ignoring that most buyers don't need this much off-road capability. If that's you, city-bound SUVs may be a better fit.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.