The 2014 Land Rover LR4 is the middle child in the extensive Land Rover lineup. With pricing starting around $50,000, the LR4 is designed to be more accessible to Land Rover customers while still offering all the off-road ability and rugged good looks of the larger, more expensive Range Rover.

With a new engine under its hood, the LR4 hopes to shed its gas hog image, though the improvement to fuel economy is modest at best. Fuel economy has been a sore spot for Land Rover, especially since Audi and Mercedes-Benz offer fuel-efficient diesels in their larger SUVs. Land Rover is also working hard to bring up the LR4's resale and reliability numbers.

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 (or mud, in some cases).

What's New for 2014?

For 2014, the LR4 gets new front-end styling, a new 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine with start/stop technology (replacing the old 5.0-liter V8), as well as a new 8-speed automatic transmission. A new, single speed transfer case is made standard, with a 2-speed unit optional. A rear backup camera is also added, while last year's Harman Kardon stereo is replaced with a unit from British audio specialists Meridian.

What We Like

Top-notch off-road capability; ample passenger capacity and interior space; serious towing capacity; plentiful standard features

What We Don't

Poor fuel economy; substandard reliability rating

How Much?

$50,595-$67,000

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Land Rover LR4 is equipped with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 good for 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. A ZF 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive. Fuel economy figures for the LR4 are ratings of 14 miles per gallon city and 19 mpg highway.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Land Rover LR4 comes in three trims: base, HSE and HSE LUX.

The base LR4 ($50,595) includes a single-speed transfer case with a 4-mode Terrain Response system, hill descent and gradient release control, air suspension with four vehicle height settings, a twin-panel Alpine glass roof with integrated power moonroof and 2-row seating for five passengers. Other standard features include leather seating, 19-inch wheels, heated outside mirrors, power front seats with driver side power lumbar support (manual on the passenger seat), dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control, push-button stop/start, and a 380-watt 11-speaker Meridian audio system with dual USB ports and iPod integration, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

The HSE ($55,495) adds a third-row seat (increasing seating capacity to seven passengers), power-folding side mirrors, hard-drive-based voice-activated navigation, unique 19-in wheels and rear-seat climate controls.

The HSE LUX ($60,795) adds the Extended Windsor Leather Package and heating elements for the steering wheel, front windshield, front washer jets and front and rear seats. Also standard are adaptive HID headlights, a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian audio system, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, front parking sensors and memory function for the driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors.

Options for the LR4 include a Vision Assist Package with side blind zone monitoring, closing vehicle detection and rear cross-traffic alert; the Black Design Pack with 18- or 20-in black finish wheels, blackout trim for the grille, door handles, mirror caps and fender vents; and the Heavy Duty Package that brings a 2-speed transfer case, 5-mode Terrain Response (which adds rock crawling) and active locking center and rear differentials.

The HSE can be equipped with many of the LUX features, including the Climate Comfort Package. Standalone options include a rear-seat entertainment system, 20-in wheels and the Meridian audio upgrade. The base LR4 can also be upgraded to include 7-passenger seating.

Safety

In addition to luxury and utility features, the 2014 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 airbags, side thorax airbags (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 airbags.

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 an accident.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the Land Rover LR4.

Behind the Wheel

The LR4 has been called the greatest 4x4 of all time by none other than Richard Hammond of the 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 new supercharged 3.0-liter V6, 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 QX80 AWD -- The QX80 is far more expensive than a base LR4 with similar amenities. Both SUVs are elegant but each is suited to different tastes, with the LR4 capable of much more off-road adventuring.

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. But LR4 buyers get two extra seats, more horsepower, more interior space and 2,200 extra pounds of towing capacity.

Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC -- 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? As in the LR4, the GL brings the prestige of an upscale and highly respected nameplate.

AutoTrader's Advice

At its $50,595 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.

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