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SEE ALSO: Land Rover Buyers Guide



by Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel

Land Rover, the iconic British brand, went thru several owners over the past 10+ years including ownership by BMW and Ford Motor Company. Result? The brand’s image had grown stagnate with lackluster products and spotty quality. Now owned by India’s automotive giant, Tata, the venerable brand has been revitalized, rejuvenated and re-energized with the introduction of the 2011 LR4.

In my first experience with the LR4 last fall I was impressed with the vehicles off-road capabilities and its effortless transition to smoother, albeit often rutted highways and city streets on a one day media introduction. Recently I drove the LR4 for a week of every day city driving and I’m even more impressed by the transformation of the new Land Rover.

From the moment you get behind the wheel, the LR4 screams durability, without raising its voice.  The smooth design of the vehicle’s exterior puts a smart looking Seville Row silhouette on an impressive package mounted on big 19” wheels.  The iconic boxy shape is still there but it’s been updated, softened and rounded without destroying heritage. The Brits are traditionalists.

Inside the understated cockpit the fit and finish of quality materials and trims is very impressive without being overly elegant or ostentatious. This is a Land Rover. Unlike many domestic and international vehicles in this category the LR4 is not overburdened with way too many instruments, gages, knobs, dials, switches or other visual and tactile distractions.

From the basic instrument panel to the navigation/infotainment, HVAC set-up to the special off-road driving info adjustment group everything has been carefully designed and engineered to ensure ease of operation, reading or access to enhance the luxurious driving experience through great sight lines front, side and rear. 

The LR4 is one solid vehicle, built to handle the roughest of off road conditions, but it drives like a luxury sedan.  There is impressive leg and head room both up front and in the back.  Capable of seating seven (7), the third row seats were, however, a bit tight for two adults.  There is plenty of storage capacity when the third row seats are flat and the cargo area can be expanded to encompass the rear seating area as well.  The split rear door folds flats and by adding a 12v outlet, the LR4 makes the prefect tailgate accessory.

Land Rover garnered its reputation as the preeminent off road vehicle in the wilds of Africa and now the LR4 has taken this off-road dependability to a whole new level with on-demand, customized set-ups to specific conditions that may be encountered.  With just a turn of a dial, the driver can adjust the suspension, drive train and gearing to fit most situations.  Whether on the highway or scaling 45 degree inclines, the LR4 hugs the road like a long lost lover.  The air powered suspension allows the vehicle to handle curves like a sports car, without the top heavy feeling inherent with some SUV’s.

The power is manufactured by the 375 HP, V-8 engine that delivers smooth, consistent acceleration and despite the LR4’s size and considerable weight it rated an impressive 17 MPG highway and 12 mpg city for a combined mpg of 14.  But let’s be honest, The LR4’s fuel economy is not going to be major factor for those considering this vehicle, but it does illustrate the efficiency of Land Rover’s engineering.

The LR4 can spend the day in the dirt or a night on the town without skipping a beat.  It is the perfect vehicle for anyone with mid-five-figures to spend (the base MSRP is $47,250 with lots of options available) and a desire to get out and enjoy the road or a lack there of in complete comfort and British style.