Tradition runs deep with this one. While most Land Rovers have become quite contemporary by shedding hundreds of pounds to save fuel, the LR4 continues to be a relic of a bygone era. Like a grandparent with a smart phone, the old boy receives new technology for 2014.
|Engine: A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 offers 340hp and 332 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: Official ratings are 14 MPG city and 19 MPG highway.
Price: Pricing starts at $50,625 while a loaded HSE LUX model costs $61,175.
The biggest change occurs under the hood. Gone is the uber-thirsty 5.0-liter V8, replaced by a slightly more efficient 3.0-liter supercharged V6. Developing 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, the new powerplant is supposed to offer two more MPG in both city and highway driving. But in a 5,655-lb vehicle with the aerodynamics of a brick wall, its fuel consumption is still abysmal. Official ratings are pegged at 14 MPG city and 19 MPG highway.
Just Drop the Start-Stop
Aside from the new engine, improved efficiency can also be attributed to the LR4 adopting Land Rover’s eight-speed automatic transmission. Paired to stop-start technology, we were only able to eke out an average 16.1 MPG during a week of driving. Making matters worse, the start-stop engagement is rough and slow to react. More than once we caught the system off guard and had to wait momentarily for the engine to fire back up.
Other than this one annoying nuance, the supercharged V6 is smooth, powerful and doesn’t make us miss the V8 at all. Being supercharged, power from the six-pot comes on instantly. Land Rover claims it will sprint from 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is slightly slower than the old model, but plenty quick for a large SUV.
Single-Speed or Two-Speed?
Also new for 2014 is a standard single speed, four-wheel drive transfer case. Since most LR4s will never climb over anything bigger than a curb or wayward skateboard, Land Rover decided to equip the SUV with a simpler, more efficient transfer case. If you do intend to go mountain climbing, a more traditional two-speed transfer case is still available. However, even the less hardcore single-speed LR4 is fully capable off-road as it includes terrain response and an adjustable air suspension that can raise minimum ground clearance from 7.3 inches to 9.5 inches at the touch of a button. The adjustable height also makes entry for shorter passengers and children easier as the LR4 will also squat down. That also means you will be able to enter more height-restricted garages.
Besides excelling off-road, the LR4 is also a master on the road. It’s one of the most comfortable large utility vehicles we have ever driven. Much like the new full-size GM SUVs, the LR4 rides smoothly, is easy to drive and is incredibly quiet inside. If hauling gear is an important as hauling people, the vehicle is rated to tow 7,716 lbs. That sits just above the unibody, Hemi-powered Dodge Durango and about 600 lbs below Cadillac’s 2015 Escalade.
Part of the reason the LR4 is so easy to drive has to do with its seat positioning. You sit at proper SUV height with a commanding view of the road unlike some slightly raised crossover pretenders. The LR4’s boxy shape only enhances sightlines thanks to its tall, flat windows and a lack of blind spots.
SEE ALSO: 2011 Land Rover LR4 Review
The LR4 can be configured for five passengers, or seven. Unlike many three-row vehicles, the LR4 can actually accommodate full-size adults in each seat. Second row passengers enjoy 37.6 inches of legroom while third row passengers still receive 36.3. Because the LR4 is a big box on wheels, headroom for all three rows is just as generous.
By having the third row set so far back, cargo space does suffer with only a scant 9.9 cubic feet of space available behind the rearmost seats. Fold the third row down and that space grows to 42.1 cubic feet or 90.3 with the second row folded as well. This cavernous expansion occurs thanks to the second- and third-row seats folding all the way down into the foot well.
Luxurious But Dated
The LR4 trumps a lot of its competition by offering all three rows of seats their own sunroof, which is an unusual feature. The rest of the LR4’s interior is untouched from last year. Although Land Rover slathers the vehicle in high-quality materials, its age is still apparent. Admittedly, it comes across more classic looking than cheap, but an update is still in order.
To help keep things fresh for 2014, the LR4 does now include blind spot monitoring, reverse traffic detection, a standard rear parking camera and Land Rover’s awesome sounding, ridiculously overpowered, Meridian audio system. Our only gripe with the vehicle’s technology has to do with the infotainment display screen that we found was set at too steep of a forward slant.
The exterior of the SUV is unmistakably a Land Rover design and that can be both a good and bad thing. Although instantly recognizable brand identity is a good thing, the LR4 feels out of touch by today’s standards. We do like the vehicle’s overall boxy shape, but the asymmetrical rear end looks tired and needs to go. To help keep some excitement in this senior citizen, Land Rover has refreshed the vehicle with a new front bumper, headlamps and fog lights. The side-view mirrors now have integrated turn signals and there are some new wheel designs as well as paint colors.
Beginning at a price of $50,625 after destination charges, the LR4 undercuts the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, costs a bit more than the Audi Q7 and comes in right around the same price as the equally old Lexus GX 460. Loaded up like our HSE LUX test vehicle was, pricing only escalates to $61,175. That’s not a bad price for a vehicle that can handle duties on and off the road, seat seven, tow a boat or carry a couch in a luxurious, if not tired package.