The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2012 Land Rover LR4 Review
By Dan Poler

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Land Rover LR4

By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

The modern-day luxury SUV tends to really be an on-road vehicle – a people-and-stuff hauler, great for getting the kids and all their gear to soccer practice in comfort, but with limited off-road capability. The Land Rover LR4, however, defies this stereotype. In addition to its on-road capabilities and comfort, it offers substantial off-road chops as well.

Introduced in 2010 as an update to the older LR3, the LR4 still maintains the function-over-form boxy shape that Land Rover is known for, but upgrades a good deal of the internals of the vehicle. Years since have provided only minor changes, with 2012 bringing an updated audio and navigation setup.

The LR4 comes with an exhaustive list of standard equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, leather, eight-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, smart key ignition, a power front sunroof and two fixed rear sunroofs, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio and an 11-speaker stereo with touchscreen control.

There are two optional upgrade packages; the HSE trim adds upgraded wheels, LED daytime running lights, power-folding mirrors, front parking sensors, third-row seats for seven-passenger capacity, a third, rear zone for the climate control, a backup camera, and hard-drive-based navigation system with voice control and real-time traffic. We tested the top-end HSE Lux trim, which adds front and rear heated seats, a heated windshield, heated washer jets, a heated steering wheel, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, upgraded leather upholstery, power steering wheel adjustments, interior ambient lighting, additional seat adjustments, a refrigerated space in the center armrest, driver seat memory settings, and a 16-speaker harmon/kardon audio system.

The LR4’s distinctive boxy shape boxy shape creates a spacious interior that can transport 7 in comfort. The luxury of the cabin is subtle – a very comfortable place to spend time without being overstated or gaudy. The three – count ‘em, three – sunroofs add to the spacious feeling without making the cabin feel overly hot; each sunroof has its own shade to keep the cabin cool while still letting light in – only the front sunroof can be opened for fresh air. The leather used for seating surfaces is soft and supple, and front seats have the additional nice touch of power-adjustable side supports in addition to what one would typically expect to find.

The driver will find an easy-to-read dashboard with an adaptive display front-and-center between speedo and tach presenting useful information. The dash is mostly black-and-white, and most buttons and controls are placed low relative to the driver, making for a pleasurable, non-distracting driving experience, especially at night. There are a couple of minor intrusions into the driver’s view, such as the oddly-angled navigation system which tends to catch sun glare from the sunroof very easily. One other minor annoyance we noted is the placement of the memory seat controls right next to the driver’s door handle – making it easy to accidentally change seating position when getting out of the vehicle. Overall, however, visibility and controls are fantastic, all the more so at night, when augmented by the Land Rover’s exceptionally good adaptive bi-xenon headlights and powerful high beams.

Driving the LR4 feels somewhat like driving a pickup truck – the seating position has the driver up high, sitting upright, pedals low, looking down to the hood. The engine noise and response only serve to augment that feeling of familiarity; the LR4 is powered by a Ford-sourced 375 HP 5.0L V8, a close relation to the Triton powerplant that Ford used to use in their F150. Handling is truck-like as well, with plenty of power when needed. Driving is quiet and comfortable but there is a substantial amount of leaning into curves at highway speed that can be a touch uncomfortable.

One of the curious paradoxes of automotive journalism is hoping for bad weather when driving a vehicle such as the LR4 here in the Rockies, and Mother Nature was kind enough to provide us with an early-fall storm providing some ice and snow to put the LR4 through its paces. In every situation the LR4 performed admirably, its Terrain Response System enabling the driver to adapt various vehicle components to the conditions. The LR4 never flinched, even in icy conditions on dirt trails, proving its off-road capabilities in less-than-optimal conditions. Particularly nice is the adjustable air suspension, enabling the driver to vary the vehicle height as conditions dictate – from a high-profile off-road mode to a close-to-the-ground mode intended for ease of access.

The trade-off to the LR4’s go-anywhere, do-anything capabilities is its fuel economy. Rated at a subpar 12 city / 17 highway, we averaged about 16 overall. Perhaps we’ll see a more efficient engine setup in the future.

The marriage of these superior off-pavement capabilities to on-pavement poise and performance while maintaining comfort and luxury is a rare one. Not everyone will want or need a nearly $60,000 vehicle that will haul seven through nearly any terrain and weather, but for those who do, the Land Rover LR4 will be an excellent choice.

Specifications - 2012 Land Rover LR4

Base Price: $48,900.00
Price as Tested: $59,075.00
Engine Type: Aluminum Alloy V8, Direct Fuel Injection
Engine Size: 5.0L

Horsepower: 375 Rank Horspower All SUV's

Torque (lb-ft): 375
Transmission: 6 speed electronically controlled automatic with normal, sport, and manual shift modes
Wheelbase / Length (in): 113.6 / 190.1
Curb Weight (lbs): 5,617
Pounds per HP: 14.98
Fuel Capacity (gal): 22.8
Fuel Requirement: Premium unleaded
Tires: Continental 4x4 Contact; 255/55VR19
Brakes: Front and rear ventilated disc
Suspension: Double wishbone front and rear

Ground clearance (in): 7.3 Ground Clearance Ranking All SUV's

Drivetrain: Permanent four-wheel drive with traction control; 
two-speed electronic transfer gearbox with variable locking center differential
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / observed: 12 / 17 / 16
Towing capacity (lb): 7,700
Base Trim Price: $48,900.00
Options and Charges
Package – HSE Lux Package: $9,225.00 (HSE & climate comfort packages, 
premium leather seating, cooler box, ambient lighting, xenon headlights, 
power adjustable steering column, 8-way power front seats with 
driver’s memory and adjustable bolsters, unique 19” alloy wheels, 
825-watt Harmon-Kardon Logic7 17-speaker stereo system)
Option –
California Emissions: $100.00
Delivery: $850.00 
Price as tested: $59,075.00