A Land Rover has long been known for its off road superiority – the ability to clear obstacles, drive at extreme hill angles, and traverse deep waters. The LR4 seems it would still deliver all of that with astounding Land Rover luxury.
However, how practical is it for everyday commutes and family drives?
I drove my LR4 for an entire week, running to appointments, loading light cargo at times, commuting with my kids and, on one occasion, taking a few of my nieces and nephews all at once. Did I encounter any desert driving, ruts, hills, or rivers in my commute? Not once. I will go out on a limb here and guess that almost 90% of the Land Rovers I see on the road today are used for the same type of everyday commutes as I have. Suffice it to say that my review speaks more to the features that everyday commuters may be more concerned about and relate to.
My HSE Lux was delivered in a Deep Burgundy with third row seating and leather all around. Dual climate controls, power everything, heated seats, GPS navigation, 17-speaker entertainment system with two backseat monitors and a universal garage door opener, which I loved. Under the hood was a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Promising to deliver 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, this power plant does not disappoint especially if you choose to tow along some toys. The gas mileage does leave a little to be desired at a combined city-and-highway average of 16 mpg; however, I found that to be satisfactory as this was a vehicle I found myself driving very casually and economically.
Getting into the Land Rover for the first time, it was hard not to notice the sheer size of this SUV. The exterior styling still retains some of the original boxy charm of its predecessor but with style refinements that scream quality and elegance. With a driving height of approximately 74”, my first experience driving into an underground garage was with my head hanging way out to confirm clearances. It’s a definite luxury to have the height adjustment control on the air suspension that allows you to lower the vehicle and lock it into position for exactly these kinds of situations. It’s a feature you never want to forget about in this SUV unless you want a convertible – permanently.
The interior is impeccably designed with beautiful refinements all over, as detailed as you’d expect in a Land Rover. The voice-activated 7” touch-screen interface on the dash works well, but seems a little small for all of the physical interaction it could get. There’s never enough room on the small screen to display required information, especially in Navigation mode. I do, however, love the fact that navigation directions are also simultaneously displayed on the centre dashboard screen as well for easy viewing. What I don’t like about the Touch Screen is the poor resolution of the backup camera and the fact that I couldn’t get the multiple cameras all around the vehicle to be simultaneously displayed on the screen while I was backing up; which makes them almost useless unless you’re traversing a rocky canyon and need to monitor your low surroundings closely.
There’s a handsome analog clock directly below the screen with radio controls on either side to manage the remarkable sound that is delivered through 17-speaker surround sound system. On a positive note, there are many memory pre-set groups available on the system. On a negative note, the scan button will not switch from one memory group to the next, leaving you distracted while having to manually select the next memory group on the touch screen.
Below the Climate Control Centre is a well laid out Terrain Response Driver Control Centre with ride height adjustments; simply put, a practical, effective, and very easy-to-use system that I think will work magnificently in the northern winter climates. I find the ride height adjustment to be a must in the city, where underground parking garages are abundant. The Ecostart button lives in this cluster and it controls a feature that shuts the engine down at a full stop and automatically re-starts when you touch the accelerator. Although I appreciate the fuel-saving benefits of this feature, I do find it bothersome at times and prefered to turn it off. What I found most annoying is that a bright yellow light illuminates on the dash to persistently remind you that the feature is off – a soft green would be so much more visually appealing.
The shifter dial is well placed in the lower centre console along with the electronic parking brake lift switch, and it cleverly ascends into position when the engine is started and retracts when turned off. It’s always a nice touch.
My tester was equipped with a centre console cooler box that I was excited to use for my water bottle on the way to the gym until I realized a standard water bottle wouldn’t fit. I prefer to have a centre console for everyday storage and I found that feature lacking.
The view out of the driver’s seat is quite excellent with very few obstructions. I even found the windshield side pillars less obtrusive and restrictive than with some other SUV’s. The front seats are very comfortable with traditional Land Rover adjustable armrests and seat adjustments to satisfy almost all drivers. The rear bench is also comfortable with ample leg room and head room very generously provided. The entertainment system in the back is nicely designed with easily accessible audio and video connections on the sides of the front seat backs. There are three sunroofs, though each one is quite small and I would prefer one larger unit.
The steering wheel is beautifully designed and built. However, I found the location of the radio and system computer oddly reversed. I would rather have radio controls intuitively on the right hand side.
As you get to the back of this SUV, it does seem that some of the design details are lacking. Although the very useful back row seats offer similar comfort and roominess to the rest, getting them up and into position can be a challenge. I found myself having to reach quite far back to grasp the handle and lift the seats into position. I don’t see that being an easy challenge for some. I’m also not a big fan of the split tailgate/lift hatch without a power option. Although this version takes less room to operate and the lift hatch can theoretically give you access to the storage in the back, lifting items over the tailgate can be cumbersome and difficult.
The ride on the LR4 is extremely smooth and quiet and road noise on the highway is minimal as long as you’re a relaxed driver. For those aggressive drivers who prefer to corner at above-posted limits, this is not the vehicle for you.
I found that the Land Rover LR4 doesn’t disappoint in its delivery of traditional Land Rover styling, luxury, and off road capability. However, I do feel that for the average city dweller, the value has been placed in areas of this SUV that would not often be utilized on a day-to-day commute and, for a list price of over $79,000.00, that’s a hard thing to ignore.