2011 Land Rover LR4 HSE – Inspector Gadget's personal SUV

Tuesday January 4th, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Posted by: bclark

By Bill Clark

Pros:

  • ‘Swiss-army’ versatility
  • Smooth ride
  • Luxurious cabin

Cons

  • T-rex size gasoline appetite
  • Minor electrical issues
  • You gotta pay to play

There’s nothing like some unexpected treats for the holidays. Family coming from Florida – expected.  Floridians wanting to go see the snow – expected. A freak snowstorm during an El Nina year two days before our Tahoe trip – slightly unexpected, but much appreciated.  Getting an email from my Editor, as we sat waiting for family at the airport, asking if anyone is in need of a Land Rover Discovery LR4 for the week – unexpectedly awesome!  What can I say, the sports car wasn’t going to do the trick and the sedan is in need of some repairs. I couldn’t imagine a better opportunity at a better time to test the latest premium SUV from the brand that practically invented the go anywhere, do anything vehicle.

2011 Land Rover LR4

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

I have to say that the Brits left no stone unturned for the 2011 LR4. Our test car was the well-appointed HSE model with the vision-assist package (Xenon headlights and auto high-beams), the third-row jump seats, climate comfort pack (a must-have for snow lovers with heated windshield and washer jets, heated seats, and heated steering wheel). Oh, and don’t forget the 480-watt Harmon/Kardon Logic 7 stereo, or three sunroofs. This car is so loaded there’s almost too much to keep track of!

We used the LR4 to transport five full-sized adults for a five-hour drive to Tahoe for snowboarding in complete comfort. Two of our three rear seat passengers were over 6-feet tall – 6’4”, 270lbs; 6’1”, 180lbs to be exact. They sat abreast in the second row and no one appeared wanting for more room. The tallest still had three inches of headroom to spare! With ample room and Land Rover’s handle-anything reputation I had complete peace of mind driving the LR4 to the snow.

2011 Land Rover LR4 LR4 3rd row jump seat Bill fits squarely in the 3rd row with headroom to spare

The folding third-row seats are noteworthy too. They fold up and disappear completely into the rear floor and I assumed they were only useful for pre-teen munchkins (like most other SUV’s), yet useless for adults. I was pleasantly surprised that they were actually comfortable for my 5’5” frame with more legroom than I needed. With the third-row seats in use, cargo room is cut to two half-filled paper grocery bags between them and the rear hatch, but you could easily carry 7 adults if you needed to and versatility is what the LR4 is all about.

Following the snowboard trip, I had an appointment in downtown San Francisco.  Being directionally challenged, I usually stay away from that area. As it turned out, the LR4 has the best factory navigation I’ve used in any vehicle. The visual display and voice prompts did a perfect job of letting me know where I was and where the next turn was as well as which lane I needed to be in. It never left me guessing and I didn’t miss a single turn. I drove to the destination in complete confidence like I’d been there a hundred times.  What a treat!

2011 Land Rover LR4 interior

The center touchscreen display provides a ton of technological information, beyond the navigation.  It serves as the display for five proximity cameras (three of which were on the fritz on our test car), compass, wheel articulation, front wheel steering angle, audio data, etc.

The baby-smooth steering wheel has a very comfortable ergonomic profile and it’s perfectly heated. The button to turn on the wheel’s heating element is placed within effortless, fingertip reach without letting go of the wheel. Nothing beats getting into the cold car and having a toasty warm wheel within a minute. The seats are soft yet supportive, the buttons and knobs can be easily operated by large and small hands, with gloves on or off, and the climate control knobs are nicely rubberized. You can even adjust the angle of the front-seat arm rests.

2011 Land Rover LR4 HVAC controls Minimal cargo room when third-row seats are used Room for a whole Mountain Bike

Build quality on the LR4 is top-notch too. Fit and finish is as good as it gets. Everything fits well with zero squeaks, rattles, or suspension noise. You can tell that the engineers carefully selected materials for each part of the vehicle that you touch and even considered how you might touch them.

I was disappointed that three of the five proximity cameras were inoperative – including the back-up camera, but with the rear proximity sensors and excellent visibility, it was only a minor inconvenience. I’m sure a trip to the dealership would take care of that, but the car barely had 3k miles on the odometer.

2011 Land Rover LR4

Performance

Despite the 5,800 pound curb weight, the 5.0 liter V8 (rated at 375hp/375 lb-ft of torque) packs enough punch to propel you to 60 MPH in about 7.5 seconds (Manufacturer’s claim). The close-ratio 6-speed automatic transmission makes sure that you are always in the power band and it doesn’t hesitate to downshift when you need it.

The LR4 features Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which lets the driver select from 5 different surfaces, including tarmac, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl. Depending on the terrain mode selected, the air suspension lowers and raises the static ride height and the computer adjusts power delivery, shift response, and locking action of the differentials.

2011 Land Rover LR4 terrain response select

At 6:30 PM we were the last car to leave the ski resort and by that time, the empty, slushy parking lot surface had turned to ice. Not one to let an opportunity pass me by, I put the terrain selector in “snow” and stomped on the gas! The car’s electronics decided I was an idiot and took over acceleration duty for me. It accelerated carefully, based on traction available to any of the four wheels at any given time. From the cabin, this operation was very smooth and uneventful. The same goes for the ABS, which helped me come to a stop at a particularly slick, icy intersection in a calm, understated fashion not alerting any of the passengers.

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2 Responses to 2011 Land Rover LR4 HSE – Inspector Gadget's personal SUV

  1. Peter Anastopulos says:

    The most exciting thing about this car that it’s being condensed by it’s former parents(Ford) and will be the DNA for the new Explorer .I love the new Explorer and think it will translate in to a much more useful vehicle .The reason this car is expensive is that it’s built in the UK in small amounts .Mass production will make this car stronger.

  2. Bill Clark says:

    Go test-drive the LR4 and let me know your thoughts :-).

    Comments from actual LR4-owners are welcome and appreciated too.

    Anyone using this SUV to haul mountain bikes with a bike-rack on the factory hitch receiver? I am sure the selectable ride-height helps with ground clearance when a bike rack is attached, but I can only speculate. I have scraped up a few bike racks on other SUV’s that way, especially when carrying the extended 4-bike rack on the receiver.





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