WASHINGTON, June 16, 2013 — Land Rover has built a reputation for itself in delivering luxury SUVs that are also some of the most capable off-road vehicles on the road. With its 2013 LR4, Land Rover is hitting the $50-$60k price range and has done a very good job of loading it to the hilt with features. And then, of course, there’s that legendary off-road performance we’ve come to expect from a Land Rover.
The “boxy” shape has some inherent benefits such as helping the LR4 to maintain a rather slim profile, allowing it to fit a bit more easily on stighter trails. While it can be a rather polarizing look, you’ll find that most consumers and fans of Land Rover products have come to endear it.
Under the hood of this beast is a powerful, naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8 engine that produces 375hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. While all this power makes for a rather spirited driving experience around town (0-60 in 7.5 seconds), what it does off-road makes it very appealing. The low-end torque is perfect for demanding trails or for towing heavy loads (towing capacity up to 7,716 pounds).
Paired with the V8 is a very smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, which incorporates Land Rover’s “CommandShift” technology. Essentially what we have here is a computerized transmission that adapts its shifting patterns based on the driver’s driving habits and surface conditions.
While the overwhelming majority of LR4 customers will likely never take their vehicle “off-road” (other than snowy roads), it’s really the all-wheel-drive system where the LR4 shines. There is a ride-adjustable height at the push of a button and Land Rover provides some pre-adjusted off-road modes that will vary the power displacement between the front/rear axles, as well as applying light brake force in “rock-crawl” mode and preventing wheel spin in “sand launch” mode. Additionally, the amount of wheel travel (10-inches in the front and 13-inches in the rear of vertical travel) the LR4 achieves when in its full-height mode is very good as well. There is also a driver-selectable “hill descent” control that I found to be very useful during my times with the vehicle off-road, especially useful for those hills with slippery mud or even snow.
There is a clear emphasis on creating a luxurious interior with the LR4, and most consumers will appreciate Land Rover’s efforts here as well. Good-looking wood trim throughout the cabin complements the leather upholstery quite well. Even the control knobs have a solid feel to them. And when it comes to creature comforts, all of the usuals are here: heated seats, Bluetooth, dual-climate control, power windows, locks, tilt wheel and cruise control.
The audio system comes courtesy of Harmon/Kardon and sounds reasonably well but still lacks the low-end expected of a premium sound system. No doubt that it sounds “good enough” for most people but again, they should have implemented a system that yielded better bass response. Overall sound stage and imaging is fine, all things considered. Audio sources include CD/mp3/wma/Bluetooth audio/ USB device and Satellite Radio.
Our review model also was equipped with the dealer add-on “Climate Comfort Package” (heated seats and steering wheel with heated front windshield and heated washer jets) as well as the 7 seat HSE package that includes the hard disc navigation, 10 CD virtual changer, LED lighting, 19” seven spoke alloy wheels, front park distance control, power mirrors and seating comfort package.
Its on-board navigation gets you there, however, I’m not the biggest fan of its input method. It’s kind of cumbersome to enter in your destination into the right city. In other words, the way you have to go back out of your destination entry screen to get it to “look” in the right area is unnecessarily complicated.
Ride quality is nice, both on-road and off-road. The drive is well dampened over most bumps for a comfortable ride, but retains enough rigidness to remind you it’s a serious off-road capable SUV. Interior noise level is quiet while traveling at freeway speeds. This is an easy, somewhat cozy, vehicle to drive every day.
For folks who have $49-$60K to spend and are looking for an extremely capable SUV, then the LR4 should be one to consider. It has some stiff competition out there but few can off-road like a Land Rover can.