2011 LR4 New Car Test Drive
The Land Rover LR4 offers amazing off-road capability yet on the road it is quiet and comfortable. Inside is a leather-appointed cabin that coddles passengers in luxury.
The LR4 is fresh from a complete redesign for 2010. For 2011, Land Rover LR4 has been further upgraded with additional technology.
New for 2011 are enhancements to the Terrain Response system designed to further boost off-road capability. Among them are the addition of Hill Start Assist, and Gradient Acceleration Control, which helps maintain downhill speeds on rough or slippery terrain when Hill Descent Control isn't set. Also, Bluetooth phone connectivity is now standard on 2011 LR4 models. A new Vision Assist Package for is available for 2011 LR4 HSE models that includes: HID headlamps, Adaptive Front Lighting System (swiveling headlights), Automatic High Beam Assist, a Surround Camera System, power-folding mirrors, Trailer Assist, and Trailer Hitch Assist. The 2011 Land Rover LR4 HSE now comes standard with a rearview camera. A new 7-Seat Comfort Package is available for 2011 models, and significant changes have been made to several options packages.
Known as the Discovery 4 in the rest of the world, the LR4 is a midsize luxury sport utility, a class that includes the Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Acura MDX, and BMW X5. The LR4 seats five but can seat seven when equipped with a third row.
The Land Rover LR4 and Range Rover Sport share platforms, powertrains, drive systems and sophisticated suspensions. The LR4 comes standard with slightly less luxury equipment, though most of the differences can be handled with options. The LR4's wheelbase is more than five inches longer than the Sport's yet the LR4 is only two inches longer overall. The LR4 has short front and rear overhangs to avoid damage in rugged terrain.
The LR4's looks are distinctively Land Rover. It's a happy, familiar shape that manages to pull off both boxy and, thanks to rounded edges at every opportunity, svelte if not sleek.
Inside the cabin, the LR4 is a complete success in terms of comfort, luxury and utility. Everything is lush to the eye and hand, and the quality of the interior materials is a high as it gets, beautifully fit and finished. Quality is much better now than it was in the early days of the Discovery.
Underway, the LR4 is very comfortable and quiet. We were impressed during our test drives of the 2010 model in Scotland and, most recently, off-road in the 2011 LR4 in Colorado. We expected no less, of course, as the LR4's capability off road is nothing short of phenomenal. Its suspension articulation coupled with the latest in traction control technology allow the LR4 to creep over extremely rugged terrain, the worst off-road trails, the most primitive of roads, and in all kinds of weather.
The Land Rover LR4 comes with a 5.0-liter 32-valve V8 (new for 2010) with direct injection and variable camshaft timing, making 375 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission shifts sharply, and has Normal, Sport and Manual modes. The LR4 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in only 7.5 seconds, a sprightly pace given the LR4's weight of about 5850 pounds (and given the Discovery's reputation as offering decidedly unsprightly acceleration).
All LR4 models come with full-time all-wheel drive with a selectable low range, although it's an understatement to describe the Land Rover's state-of-the-art traction-control system so simply. For off-highway travel, the electronic two-speed transfer case can be shifted on the fly. But the magic is in the Terrain Response System, with its five settings: Highway, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. All you have to do is look out the windshield, select the correct setting for the terrain, and the LR4 will coordinate all of its off-road technology accordingly, including setting the suspension height. If you want to drive to Tierra del Fuego, one of these would be a great choice.
The LR4 meets the government's ULEV2 emissions requirements, meaning it's greener than required by law. It's no economy vehicle, however, with an EPA rating of 12 City and 17 Highway miles per gallon.
The LR4 is the latest in an evolution of Discovery models that benefitted from the upmarket Range Rover chassis. Launched in the UK in 1989, the Land Rover Discovery was introduced in the U.S. in 1994. The Discovery Series II replaced it for 1999 and was a significant improvement. When the Discovery 3 was launched in April 2004 it was dubbed LR3 in North America to emphasize the Land Rover brand. The LR4, launched as a 2010 model, is a heavily updated version of the LR3, and is marketed as Discovery 4 in other parts of the world.
The 2011 Land Rover LR4 ($47,650) comes standard with leather seating and trim, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power seats, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry, power windows, mirrors, locks and tailgate, HomeLink, collapsible steering column, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with an auxiliary jack and iPod compatibility, electronic parking brake, front and rear foglamps, privacy glass, power sunroof with Alpine roof, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Gradient Acceleration Control, 4-wheel electronic traction control, and Bluetooth. LR4 comes standard with seating for five.
The 7-Seat Comfort Package ($1,150) adds a third row of flat-folding seats, head curtain airbags, climate controls, map lights and accessory power outlet. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
LR4 HSE ($51,900) upgrades with navigation, voice-activated HDD with 7-inch touch screen, rearview camera, front and rear park distance control, heated front and rear seats, driver information center for off-roading, Sirius satellite radio, halogen projection headlamps with LED lighting, 19-inch alloy wheels, and the 7-seat package. The Vision Assist Package ($1800) includes bi-xenon HID headlamps, Adaptive Front Lighting System, Automatic High Beam Assist, Surround Camera System, Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist, which use the cameras to guide your backing-up with a trailer.
Options include Harman Kardon Logic7 audio ($900); Cold Climate package ($1500) with heated front and rear seats, steering wheel, windshield and washer jets; Heavy Duty package ($750) with active locking rear differential and full-size spare wheel and tire; rear-seat entertainment system ($2500) with dual screens, six-disc DVD changer, headphones and remote. There are also special paints and a black lacquer interior wood trim ($350), and 20-inch tires and wheels ($2500).
Safety equipment standard on all models includes six airbags (eight airbags with third-row seats), collision-activated inertia switch (unlocks doors, turns off fuel pump and activates hazard flashers), Dynamic Stability Control, ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist, and tire pressure monitor.