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Heels on Wheels - 2012 Land Rover LR4 Review


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2012 Land Rover LR4

… if you want your capable trail-and-asphalt utility vehicle to have high-class British style, the 2012 Land Rover LR4 does not disappoint.

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 2012 LAND ROVER LR4 VEHICLE
The seven-passenger Land Rover LR4 is a decadent sport utility vehicle inspired by true off-road capability and luxurious appointments. But therein lays the caveat: While this expensive SUV can handle just about any rugged terrain, your nerves might not if vehicular damage is involved.

I drove a 2012 Land Rover LR4 with the standard direct-injection 375-horsepower 5-liter engine and 375 pound-feet of torque. The transmission featured a six-speed automatic CommandShift with Normal, Sport and Manual shift modes and Land Rover’s permanent four-wheel drive system called 4ETC. Available in one trim with HSE and HSE LUX packages, my test drive cam with the following standard highlights: leather upholstery; interior walnut trim; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; dual-zone climate control; asymmetrical split tailgate; alpine roof with sunblind and a moonroof; center cooling box; nineteen-inch alloy wheels; rain-sensing wipers; rear parking sensors; seven-inch touch-screen; Bluetooth; and a USB port and auxiliary input jack. Price lands at $48,900. Additional packages and options included $750 XM Radio and HD radio services, a $1,200 Vision Assist for HSE LUX Package (a five-camera surround system and Adaptive Front Headlights), and a $9,225 7 Seat Comfort HSE LUX Package (upgraded leather upholstery and climate system, eight-way power driver’s seat, seventeen-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system). Total price for my test drive was $60,175.

Competitors are best determined by your driving purpose. The BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GL-Class also SUV suburbia showboats, while the VW Touareg is more known for its put-to-the-test capability with good looks and refinement as strong second.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Keen visibility and firm seating establishes immediate comfort behind the wheel of the LR4. All controls are intuitive and within ergonomic reach, crafted from top-of-the-line materials with the cabin and center stack featuring an overall modern layout and feel. The asymmetrical tailgate requires twice the effort to fold, and the lack of an automatic open or close feature adds to the struggle of involving the cargo area for everyday use. The optional third row seats fold perfectly flat and pop up with the pull of a couple levers, but offer limited comfort.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety equipment for the LR4 includes a six-airbag supplemental restraint system, all-terrain anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, hill descent control, LATCH for child seats, and rear park distance control. The LR4 has not been rated by either The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Cost Issues: The LR4 begins at $49,750; start adding the HSE and HSE LUX packages and price can exceed $60k. The BMW X5 begins at $47,500 and a Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC at $61,570. A VW Touareg starts at $43,375.

Activity & Performance Ability: Driving highlights for the LR4 include posh road manners supported by impeccable maneuverability. Invigorating power is certainly another stellar point with a 5-liter, but at a cost of 14 miles-per-gallon. The LR4’s tall profile and thus higher center of gravity will put a pause into your cornering gusto. Any novice off-road driver can use the four-wheel drive or 4ETC system, which features a knob in the lower center console well-labeled with five different settings for common terrains – general, snow, sand, ruts and mud – to modify the engine, transmission and suspension. Properly equipped, the LR4 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

The Green Concern: This 5-liter V8 isn’t shy at sucking down the gas with estimates of 12-city and 17-highway for a combined14 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Like an Oscar dress, this SUV is undoubtedly impressive, but somewhat impractical for everyday use. However, if you want your capable trail-and-asphalt utility vehicle to have high-class British style, the 2012 Land Rover LR4 does not disappoint.

©2012 Katrina Ramser