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2012/2013 Land Rover LR4 HSE Chicagoland Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Land Rover LR4 HSE

2012/2013 Land Rover LR4 HSE Review
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

It seems not quite fair to test drive one of the most capable off-road vehicles in the world today only on the streets of Chicago. This past summer I spent a week in the Range Rover Evoque, a very capable off-roader and also a quite very well suited SUV for the urban environs of Chicago.

In the spring of this year at the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s Spring Rally in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin the Land Rover Team of off-road experts joined to teach us and have us experience true off-road driving. We climbed steep grades, horizontally traversed steep slopes, used hill descent control to drop down those steep grades, and climbed over rock ridges. Among the SUVs at our disposal for this off-road driving excursion was a contingent of Land Rover models. Knowing what Land Rovers can do from first-hand experience, I set out to drive the LR4.

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My tester-for-a-week was a 2012 LR4 HSE in a Nara Bronze color that I thought would be a pretty good choice for not showing the dirt too much if I were traversing muddy farmland in Wisconsin, dirt roads in Northern Michigan or the western mountains of the U.S. The LR4 is one powerful vehicle equipped with a 375HP 5.0-liter V8 coupled to an electronically controlled ZF 6-speed automatic that will get its 5659 lbs. moving from zero to sixty in 7.5 sec. Top speed is 121 mph, which is testimonial to the engines power considering the brick-like 0.40Cd.

Continuing with the power train, there’s a two-speed electronic transfer gearbox with shift-on-the-move capability and an electronically controlled, infinitely variable locking center differential all driving a permanent four-wheel drive with four-wheel Electronic Traction Control. The engine requires premium fuel and is EPA rated at 14 combined mpg, with 12 city mpg and 17 highway mpg. Needless to say economy is not the forte of the LR4. It does have a 22.8 gallon fuel tank which helps to make visits to the gas station less frequent.


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I have to give pause here and imagine being a gentleman farmer or perhaps a dog breeder and know that the LR4 is perfectly suited for use in that endeavor. I do have a Labrador Retriever who would greatly appreciate riding in the spacious 42.1cuft rear cargo area behind the second row seat. The LR4 can be had as 5-seater or 7-seater. My tester was equipped with the 7-seat HSE package. Cargo volume is 9.9cuft with the third row up, but most likely in that mode you would be carrying smallish children off to a soccer game or such. Folding both seats gives you 90.3cuft for hauling seed, feed and fertilizer or whatever.

By the way, the LR4 can tow a 7716 lb. braked trailer and is equipped with Trailer Stability Assist and has a tow assist camera function to give a wide view from the side cameras. Five digital cameras make up the available Surround Camera System, relaying to the touch-screen a near 360-degree view of the vehicle. The cameras, which support easier parking, towing and off-road maneuvering, have options for selecting and zooming.

For 2013 the LR4 gets some technology updates, along with new interior and exterior options, including a new Black Design Package that is available with either 19-inch or 20-inch black painted wheels, and includes gloss black treatments to the grille, fender vents, door handles, mirror caps, and badging.

The LR4 is by no means a cheap truck. Base price on my 2012 model is $48,900 plus a $850 transportation charge. For 2013 the base price bumped up $200. The 7-seat HSE Package is $4225, and in addition to the 3rd row seat it get you a Navigation system, LED signature rear lighting, rear camera, unique 19-inch seven spoke alloy wheels, front park distance control, passive entry, powerfold mirrors and an HSE badge.

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On the inside the LR4 is very comfortable and plush. From you high perch you have good command of the road. The rich leather and walnut trim is beautiful and makes you feel like you’re in a home living room. A new Extended Leather package comes with premium Windsor leather on the dashboard, door panels, armrest and grab handles. The same leather is used in the instrument cluster surround, and twin-stitch detailing is used on the dashboard and doors.

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The LR4s Terrain Response System provides far more choices than the average driver needs, especially an urban driver. The system manages multiple vehicle parameters for all on-road and off-road driving conditions. The vehicle set-up is changed for general driving, snow, gravel, mud, ruts, grass, sand, and rocks. What more can you ask for?

I liked and appreciated the Land Rover LR4 for what it offers and what it can do. It’s a bit trucky for everyday city use. However, it handles very well and overall is comfortable and fairly quiet. It appears big but it drives easily. The tires are a bit noisy at highway speed, but on the other hand they will handle snow, sand and mud extremely well, unlike many SUVs that are shod with tires that do poorly in snow.

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Many folks today are driving way too much vehicle in their daily commutes because they bought a vehicle with capabilities that they use only once or twice a year. This contingency purchase urge to buy an overqualified vehicle for your everyday use shouldn’t guide a vehicle purchase decision. Today we have rental companies who will gladly provide an SUV or van or pickup whenever you need one.

The Land Rover LR4: a beautifully designed vehicle that is intended to get very dirty.

© Larry Nutson