2015 Land Rover LR4: Sharpshooting SUV

By Frank A. Aukofer, January 31st, 2015

Even if you have a squad of sharpshooters in your compound, it's valuable to have a trusty shotgun as well -- something akin to the 2015 Land Rover LR4 sport utility vehicle.

Manufacturer photo: The 2015 LR4 adds the convenience of new standard side steps, which help make entering and exiting the vehicle easier
Manufacturer photo: The 2015 LR4 adds the convenience of new standard side steps, which help make entering and exiting the vehicle easier

Land Rover, a storied name from post-World War II Great Britain that is known around the world for its rugged all-terrain vehicles, has morphed into a designer brand that is as at home in Hollywood as on the Serengeti Plain in Africa.

That doesn't mean it's gotten soft. Its vehicles, across the board, can still negotiate the boondocks as well as or better than anything else on the planet. It's mainly the cachet of owning something that can do that -- even though Mademoiselle would never think of taking it anywhere but to Dior or Dolce & Gabbana.

Though it still sells utilitarian machines like the Defender, Land Rover has a full lineup of sharpshooting vehicles ranging from the LR2 and Discovery Sport, which start for less than $40,000, to the posh Range Rover, with some versions commanding more than $200,000.

No Land Rover is cheap, however. Some, though, have less snob appeal, but are more stalwart, which brings us to the subject here: the LR4.

Manufacturer photo: The 2015 LR4 adds the convenience of new standard side steps, which help make entering and exiting the vehicle easier

The $56,275 price tag of the tested 2015 Land Rover LR4 with the optional HSE package certainly is not for the faint of heart or wallet. But it compares favorably against similarly equipped competitors like the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL, and Lexus GX or LX.

Additionally, the LR4 is more truck-like than any of those. It's prepared to take on any of the rough stuff, although its sheer size -- it is tall and almost 16 feet long -- would rule out areas with very tight turns and high boulders, though even that would not be daunting to some owners.

The reason is the LR4's suite of off-road enhancements, including an electronically controlled air suspension system to adjust the ride to four different heights, along with pushbutton settings for different conditions: normal, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts and sand. There's also an optional rock-crawling mode for serious off roaders.

Where the LR4 unexpectedly shines, however, is in everyday urban and highway chores, where it qualifies as a utilitarian substitute for a three-row crossover or even a soccer mom minivan -- something like the dependable shotgun hanging on the wall of the prairie home.

For such a big vehicle, the handling is relatively nimble and the ride surprisingly compliant. Steering inputs receive instant responses with quick turn in around curves, although the LR4 obviously is no sports sedan. On straight highways, it tracks true with little need for steering corrections -- making it a relaxing long-distance cruiser.

Manufacturer photo: The 2015 LR4 adds the convenience of new standard side steps, which help make entering and exiting the vehicle easier

Aside from the price, its only drawback is fuel economy. The EPA rates the 5,655-pound LR4's city/highway/combined gasoline consumption at 14/19/16 mpg. That's not attractive, though it could be less of an issue as prices at the pump continue to come down.

The LR4 gets its motivation from a supercharged 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 332 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and permanent four-wheel drive. There's plenty of grunt to get through blizzards or the barrens.

It takes a bit of effort to climb inside. But once there, front- and middle-row passengers are treated to long-distance comfort in supportive seats with plenty of head and knee room. The two third-row seats are considerably less comfortable but at least deliver barely adequate space for a couple of modest-sized adults.

Flipping up the entire right rear seat enables access to the third row, though it still takes some agility to crawl inside. Raising the third row seat, however, is a two-step chore.

With the third row up for seven-passenger seating, there's just 10 cubic feet of cargo space. But folding the third row flat opens up an area of 42 cu.-ft. and, should you need it, folding all the rear seats gives you 90 cu.-ft. of storage space.

Manufacturer photo: The 2015 LR4 adds the convenience of new standard side steps, which help make entering and exiting the vehicle easier

The LR4 comes standard with a giant alpine roof, which consists of a motorized glass sunroof over the driver and front-seat passenger, along with a fixed glass roof over the second- and third-row seats. Unfortunately, the sunshade is made of a perforated cheesecloth-like material, which admits too much hot sunlight.

Overall, however, the LR4 gets triple Cs: for Cachet, Competence, and Charisma.

Specifications

Base price $51,325 (as tested: $56,975)
Curb weight 5,655 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Engine type DOHC supercharged V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 22.8 gal.
Horsepower (net) 340 at 6500 rpm
Overall length 190.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 332 at 3500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 7-passenger 4WD SUV
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