2016 Land Rover LR4
– Cabin layout and features
– Off-road capabilities
– Fairly comfortable ride
– High base price
– Safe but floaty handling
– Could be quicker
This is the final year for the Land Rover LR4 as we know it — a body-on-frame trucklet with a tall profile and a distinctive look that has remained largely unchanged since the LR3’s debut in 2005. The next generation, due next year, will look like all the other new Land Rovers and Range Rovers, softened up to appeal to today’s car buyers. As a final hurrah, Land Rover has been offering up several “special” editions of the LR4, this one being the Landmark Edition.
The LR4 is a handsome upright 4×4 with a stepped roof inherited from the Land Rover Discovery of the 1990s. Living on facelifts over the years, it’s currently on its third and final one, with a redesigned front fascia and some cool new 20-inch wheels. The front sports LED-lined HID headlights, while the rear still comes with clear-lens LED tail lamps. Don’t ask us what the Landmark Edition pack adds, aside from the nifty bronze paintjob. You still get the front-fender vents, only one of which is functional so you can add a snorkel if you wish.
Stepping in is made easy by a lowering air suspension and side-steps. Inside, there is a budget old-gen Range Rover effect with the cabin panel designs and textures, although it’s all starting to look dated now. There’s lots of soft-touch padding, with a stitched-leatherette dash top and padded armrests as well. The hard plastics below knee-level and the cover-less front cup-holders are about the only hints that this is not a Range Rover, and yet it is still cushier inside than similarly-priced cars like, say, the Toyota Land Cruiser. Third-row passengers get treated to hard-plastic armrests and protrusions though.
The LR4’s tall profile makes for a very spacious cabin. Rear passengers get decent legroom and tons of headroom. The feeling of space is also enhanced by large glass windows, three glass panels in the roof and relatively thin pillars, all of which also help visibility. However, tall third-row passengers in this seven-seater are still going to complain about knee-room, although average-sized folks like us fit just about fine and access is also easier than most. Seat side-bolstering up front is minimal, so fast cornering requires holding on to something. A notable omission is a missing rear-seat centre armrest, making way for a proper middle seat.
There are tons of cup-holders, two gloveboxes and other storage areas in the doors, along with a few more in the centre console for front passengers, who also enjoy “captain’s chair” armrests. Fold down the third-row seating — a bit complicated in its mechanisms — and the rear luggage area expands to fit a bedroom’s worth of furnishings. Fold down the second row and the bed itself will fit too.
The gadgets in our test car were more than enough, featuring a touchscreen with simple graphics (although updated in the last facelift) for navigation, strong stereo, Bluetooth phone, trip computer and other functions; with convenient short-cut buttons and common stereo controls just below that. Further down the console are controls for the strong auto a/c, with rear vents and roof-mounted controls for rear passengers even. Other features include smart keyless start, cooler box, cruise control, front-side-curtain airbags, HID headlights, fog lamps and power-adjustable memory seats.
Since the last facelift, the LR4 has exclusively been powered by a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 making 340 hp at 6500 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 3500 to 5000 rpm. It is less powerful than the 5.0-litre V8 it replaced, which used to make 375 hp and 508 Nm. As a result, the new model is slightly slower but more fuel-efficient, which we can confirm with a 0-100 kph time of 8.4 seconds and petrol consumption of 14.8 litres/100 km, helped along by a good 8-speed automatic that uses a rotary-dial gear selector.
Borrowed from Jaguar, the force-fed engine actually does offer more useful power, with a decent kick at low revs that gets you going a bit quicker than the V8 in city driving. However, you do lose the V8 exhaust grunt, as it now sounds like a vacuum cleaner most of the time. Maybe Land Rover should borrow Jaguar’s exhaust system as well. The low-speed throttle response is also uneven, not always on the ball when you push the ‘go’ pedal.
As for the drive, it’s best if you don’t hustle it and just enjoy the smooth air-suspended ride at moderate speeds. There is good low-end power, but it doesn’t feel particularly eager at highway overtaking speeds. The brakes are good enough for the daily drive, while there’s good grip from the 255/50 tyres wrapping those 20-inch alloys, even if the handling feels lumpy. But while it’s easy to overwhelm the tyres in corners, it never feels tipsy. The steering offers little feedback, but is weighted somewhat firmly, which is at odds with this easy-riding cruiser’s demeanour.
All-round visibility can be a problem with a full load of passengers. Parking isn’t too complicated though, with a full set of sensors and a rear camera. The LR4 can be lowered with a knob on the centre console to ease climbing in and out, but when we tried to keep the suspension setting permanently low, to improve handling, it just automatically pops back up to the standard medium-height setting at speed again.
We didn’t take the LR4 offroad because yet again Land Rover made us sign a contract that overtly discourages potentially-damaging activities with their press cars, but we can assure you that the body-on-frame LR4 has all the right equipment to tackle the desert, from height-adjustable air suspension to a driver-selectable terrain-response system, let alone the low-range gearing and hill-descent control. In fact, we suspect the new engine might actually do better than the older V8, with stronger low-end torque to get moving on the soft stuff.
The Land Rover LR4 is a great all-round package that continues to stand out as a unique entry in the generally-characterless SUV segment. It’s a bit outdated now, but then again, it’s a traditional 4×4 so it doesn’t matter what the touchscreen size is. About the only thing that’s kept it from being more common is its very high base price for a non-Range Rover model. It costs even more in special trims such as this Landmark Edition and the Black Pack version we drove a year ago. We’d say stick to the basics and get a well-equipped regular version, because no one is going to be looking at your fancy special-edition wheels when you’re in the desert.
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