Published on May 15th, 2013 | by George Kennedy0
Driven: 2013 Land Rover LR4
The inherent capability of luxury off-roaders is like being out on the town with a condom in your pocket. It is far better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it. The operators of vehicles like the 2013 Land Rover LR4 may not always call upon its incredible world-beating off-road prowess, but when needed, few will match its strength.
More on that later, for now, let us discuss the LR4 in its primary role, as a comfortable, confident citadel for the road. The carrying on the straight lines and 90-degree angles of its ancestor the Discovery, the LR4 shares the sense of occasion enjoyed by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. It is instantly recognizable as a Land Rover, and with the circular LED headlights, it is also a fully modern cruiser, positioned to outshine vehicles like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Ultimately, the LR4 appears as a safari vehicle for the year 2050, but in our modern time, it is a stunning vehicle that announces itself upon every entrance.
The Interior of the LR4 shares this regal sense of itself. The upright dash and center stack feature a waterfall of woodgrain and large knob buttons, (in true, plucky Land Rover fashion, the buttons are mean to be easily operated while wearing field gloves). The series of climate and audio controls are capped off with the most significant new feature of the LR4; the updated navigation system. This was perhaps the largest source of derision for the hard-to-knock Landie. In years past, it was a clunky, slow, impractical touch screen user interface. The introduction of the Range Rover Evoque saw the first use of the new navigation system, which spread across the Land Rover lineup, thankfully making its way into the LR4. It allows for quick, seamless iPhone pairing and operation, and voice commands are more responsive; though require several more prompts than necessary to place a call. We hope that in the next iteration of this system, they will employ a more intuitive voice control system that can comprehend complex commands.
Technology is only once facet of the LR4’s usability. The third row deploys seamlessly from the rear floor, and when all seats are flattened (including second row), provides for 90 cubic feet of cargo space. Land Rover has considered optimizing access to that space, and has constructed the hatch-tailgate combination in a unique asymmetrical configuration. This allows one side to have a lower point of entry, which makes tossing in a heavy bag that much easier. If it is too large or heavy, you simply open the lower half of the hatch.
But enough about golf bags and parasols. This is a Land Rover, and certain things are expected of any vehicle wearing those letters, sprawled across the imposing hood, requires unparalleled off-road capability. That formula starts with a 5.0-liter aluminum-alloy V8. That mill is shared with Jaguar, and in the LR4, it puts out 375 horsepower and 375 pound feet of torque. This powerplant features sequential direct injection and torque-activate variable camshaft timing, which is a whole lot of technical jargon to say that Land Rover is doing the best that it can to make the LR4 fuel efficient while delivering the power that is expected of it. We don’t suspect Landie owners to worry much over the 14 combined miles per gallon (12 city, 17 highway), but there’s that whole Corporate Average Fuel Economy thing to deal with. Alas, Land Rover would build 6.7-liter V8’s that achieved less than 8 MPG if they could get away with it, and people would buy the crap out of them.
Those 375 ponies are sent through a ZF-sourced 6-speed automatic transmission, sent to permanent four-wheel drive. In regular drive, it is the staid-yet-composed SUV that many buyers desire, but for the lead-foots out there, simply click it over to S/M mode and throttle response quickens, shift points heighten, and it turns into a snarling, rocketing beast.
Now, we have been omitting the elephant in the room, which is the terrain control toggles, sitting ever-so-innocuously at the base of the center stack. They want you to go off road and play, and you should. Though many may not take out a $50K-plus (MSRP of $49,995) SUV, the toys are there, in the form of adjustable ride height, two speed transfer case, locking differentials, and that terrain setting knob. It has presets for gravel, sand, snow, mud and ice, and it wants you to get the LR4 dirty.
But sadly, few will ever take the LR4 to its true potential. The most rugged excursion, to the country club, the most dirt it will take on will be from your golf shoes. But it is always good to know that if you needed to go through any sort of terrain for whatever reason, the LR4 is certainly capable of it. Like we said- better to have it and not need it, indeed.