2014 Land Rover LR4 HSE LUX Review
It's tough to top a Land Rover.No Comments
If you're willing to sacrifice some luxury in order to procure yourself a damned decent off-roader and people-hauler, you can snag quite the good deal without losing most of the important stuff.
Land Rover's LR4 received a serious 'refresh' for the 2014 model year. Gone is the V-8, replaced by a downsized (both in displacement and power) supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Gone is the two-speed transfer case, although it's still available as an option. Gone, as well, is the LR4's face; it's been replaced with something that looks a little less like the last-generation Range Rover, although some of those elements do carry over even in the new visage. Land Rover knows to keep things 'in the family,' so to speak, so if you were expecting something radical, this isn't the place to look. Even the upcoming all-new Discovery keeps its aesthetic largely tied to its big-brother Range Rover family.
But that's not a bad thing, not at all. The LR4 (née Discovery, in case you didn't know the connection there) sticks to a formula that works - it's a body-on-frame SUV that is meant to hit the trail, with plenty of room for cargo both human and otherwise. We love it, and we think folks looking for SUVs in the $50,000+ range will love it, too, even if they only ever use it for the commute to work.
Up front, the driver's experience will be immediately familiar to owners of previous or current Land Rovers. The center stack is laid out in a straightforward manner, with all the infotainment up top, HVAC controls in the middle, and the transmission/drivetrain business all clustered up at the bottom. It's easy to commit the button locations to muscle memory, although the screen's small-ish size can lead to some road-gaze-averting squints from time to time.
No matter which row you're in (and you get three to choose from), you'll be seated in total comfort. The LR4's tall stature gives it plenty of headroom, and it helps to open up the interior in general. The third row (which can fold flat into the cargo area to give owners, you know, some room for cargo) has a surprising amount of legroom in the rear, although adults might have trouble on long-distance trips. Those seats, by the way, are among the easiest to store, requiring no more than two quick pulls per side.
We especially enjoyed our tester LR4, which came with the optional Black Design Package; that package replaces the exterior's shiny bits (wheels included) with a version done up in all black, and in conjunction with the bright-white paint slathered on the sheet metal, it looked pretty badass for a body-on-frame SUV rolling straight out of the factory.
Even with that inherent softness, the LR4 gets going in a (relative) hurry. There's always power on tap from the new-for-2014 3.0-liter supercharged V-6; yes, the V-8 is gone, but the six still gives the LR4 plenty of hustle for a heavy box on wheels. Connected to ZF's ubiquitous eight-speed automatic, the drivetrain is fully capable of doing its job without getting in anybody's way, driver included.
Speaking of boxy, that shape does contribute to a bit of wind noise at highway speeds, but it's nothing the sound system (or some conversation with passengers) can't drown out.
Off-road enthusiasts will be saddened to find out that the two-speed transfer case is no longer standard (due in part to Land Rover's acknowledgement that most LR4s will end up at Whole Foods, not Moab). Rest assured, fans of the dirt; for $1,350, you can get that transfer case back, in addition to a locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire.
So, is it a good value? We think so. Two of the LR4's competitors (Infiniti QX80, Mercedes GL-Class) start at a much higher price point, leaving the LR4 standing next to the Lexus GX 460. Putting the two vehicles side by side, the Lexus looks more imposing, but between its slightly-better-than-Toyota interior and general handling characteristics, the Land Rover comes away as the superior vehicle.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, full-time 4WD
Power Output: 340 horsepower / 332 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 14 city / 19 highway
Base Price: $49,700
As Tested: $68,375 (incl. $925 destination)
Vision Assist Package: Adaptive front headlights with daytime running lights, automatic high beam assist, blind-spot monitor, reverse traffic detection with closing vehicle sensing, surround camera system
Heavy Duty Package: Two-speed transfer case, active locking rear differential, full-size spare
Individual Options: HD and satellite radio, rear-seat entertainment system, adaptive cruise control