Pros: Top-notch off-road capability; ample passenger capacity and interior space; serious towing capacity; plentiful standard features.
Cons: Poor fuel economy; substandard reliability rating.
What's New: Two new interior colors and two new interior trim choices; five new exterior shades; available Black Design package with blacked-out exterior trim and 19- or 20-inch black-finished wheels; available Extended Leather package.
The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is the latest vehicle in the off-road luxury specialist's Discovery SUV lineup. In fact, this fourth-generation model still goes by the Discovery name in Europe. There, it's now called the Discovery 4.
On this side of the Atlantic, the Discovery lineup has been available since 1994. Although the SUV's upright shape is unmistakably Land Rover, Americans have seen the model go through a speedy and dramatic evolution. We've witnessed no fewer than three redesigns since 1999. Through the changes, the LR4 continues to combine unparalleled off-road capability with luxury and utility.
Starting at $49,950, the LR4 is an award-winning luxury SUV that is available in three versions: base, HSE and HSE Lux.
The LR4 might be more expensive than some of its competitors, but with world-renowned off-road prowess, available seating for seven and a 7,700-lb towing capacity, the LR4 leaves most other luxury SUVs in the dust.
Comfort & Utility
In the LR4, leather seats, dual-zone climate control and a huge panoramic roof are standard, setting the tone for the vehicle's architectural theme. With available natural finish wood trim, white LED mood lighting and a premium audio upgrade, the LR4 is both classic and luxurious.
Fold-flat third-row seating creates 90.3 cu-ft of interior cargo space, allowing the LR4 to quickly transform from versatile cargo hauler to spacious people mover. Headroom and legroom abound in the LR4, thanks to the vehicle's tall roofline.
Unlike many other automakers, Land Rover doesn't offer a huge list of options that can be packed in at a significant markup. Instead, Land Rover has made most features standard, among them Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera and Land Rover's award-winning four-wheel-drive and traction control systems, Hill Start Assist and Gradient Release Control.
Land Rover's Terrain Response system optimizes the vehicle for virtually all on- or off-road driving situations. Five driver-selectable settings suit different conditions: General Driving; Grass/Gravel/Snow; Sand; Mud and Ruts; and Rock Crawl.
Land Rover's Hill Start Assist system works by preventing the vehicle from rolling backward when moving from a standstill on an incline. It momentarily holds brake pressure when the driver's foot moves from the brake pedal to the accelerator. Gradient Release Control provides extra safety on severe inclines when the driver does not have Hill Descent Control engaged, essentially acting as a fail-safe hill descent system.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The LR4 has only one engine and transmission pairing available in the U.S. market. A Jaguar-sourced, normally aspirated all-aluminum 5.0-liter V8 produces 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with normal, sport and manual shift modes.
Although the LR4 weighs a stout 5,833 lb, it will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The LR4 puts out impressive power, but it also insatiably consumes premium fuel, with fuel economy figures of 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. Filling up its 22.8-gallon gas tank--or watching the fuel gauge move quickly toward empty--is not a task that will appeal to frugal drivers.
In addition to luxury and utility features, the 2013 Land Rover LR4 is loaded with safety components. There are integral head restraints for all three rows of seats. The LR4's safety equipment is anchored by six standard airbags that work in conjunction with its front passenger seat's occupant detection system. Included are driver and dual-threshold front-passenger, side thorax (for front seating positions) and head protection side curtain airbags for the front and second-row outboard seating positions. When ordered with the 7-seat comfort package, the LR4 includes two additional side curtain airbags for a total of eight.
The LR4 also features a collapsible steering column and an inertia switch that unlocks the doors, turns off the fuel pump and turns on interior and hazard lights in case of accident.
The LR4 has been called the greatest 4x4 of all time by none other than Richard Hammond of British TV program Top Gear. Climb behind the steering wheel and head for the trail to quickly learn why. Other SUVs might seem to have compromised something here or there, leaving a lack of congruity. The LR4 very much feels complete, well sorted and uncompromising.
The LR4 is one of the few U.S.-market SUVs still built with body-on-frame construction. This arrangement adds weight but also proves highly capable off-road. Add to that the LR4's electronic controls for differential, braking and air suspension systems, and you'll understand why few vehicles can compete with the LR4 on or off the road.
On pavement, the LR4 is smooth, taut, composed and in control. With all the torque created by the 5.0-liter V8, not much pedal input is needed to get the LR4 going. Unlike other SUVs, the LR4 feels very sturdy in sharp corners. It has a high-riding and tall body but carries most of its weight down low. It's this relatively low center of gravity, coupled with the LR4's sophisticated suspension system, that allows it to stay level during cornering.
Other Cars to Consider
Infiniti QX56 AWD: Starting at $63,750 for the all-wheel-drive version, the QX56 is nearly $14,000 more expensive than a base LR4 with similar amenities. Both SUVs are elegant but each is suited to different tastes. Traditionalists may prefer the Land Rover's no-nonsense styling. Those who prefer something a bit bolder might like the shape of the QX better.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4: Enthusiasts have devoted much time to comparing the Grand Cherokee with the LR4. Yes, you can get a Grand Cherokee for a lot less money than an LR4; with four-wheel drive, the base Grand Cherokee starts at $29,495. But LR4 buyers get two extra seats, more horsepower, more interior space and 2,200 extra lbs of towing capacity. Furthermore, even the $47,595 Grand Cherokee with Overland Summit trim is arguably less luxurious than the base LR4.
Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC: Priced at $63,900, the GL450 is big, fast and luxurious. It wouldn't dare take on the same rough terrain that the LR4 was born to tackle, but how many drivers really need to ford 46 inches of water? Like the LR4, the GL brings the prestige of an upscale and highly respected nameplate.
At its $49,950 starting price, the LR4 is already equipped with a slew of standard features and leaves little more to desire. We do recommend customers upgrade to the 7-seat comfort package. Not only does it add two more seats--and seats that fold delightfully flat when not in use--but it also adds two more airbags to the mix. It's a $1,250 upgrade that's worth every penny.