With the doors firmly shut, the LR4's cabin proved to be quiet and comfortable. Most of the controls fell naturally within our reach, including the Terrain Response knob, the steering wheel controls, seat adjustments, and climate controls. The color touch screen that sits at the top of the center stack was a bit of a stretch, but we didn't anticipate needing to tap it too much while the vehicle was in motion.
Our infotainment features started with standard Bluetooth hands-free calling. As we mentioned earlier, this first bit of tech proved to be extremely difficult to set up. The system provides no onscreen and few audible prompts, so we were left taking stabs in the dark with spoken commands. Further complicating matters was the fact that the hands-free system used a unique four-digit PIN that was only documented in the owner's manual. After about 20 minutes of poking around, we finally got our phone paired. Fortunately, once paired, the hands-free system automatically imported our phonebook, allowing us to access and initiate calls with the touch screen.
The Rover fares slightly better when it comes to digital audio sources. Satellite radio is available as part of the HSE trim level, as is iPod/USB connectivity via a proprietary connection and cable. Of course, there's a single-slot CD player with MP3 playback capability. The touch-screen interface through which you interact with digital audio sources is easy enough to understand at a glance, but it feels a bit overdesigned, dedicating too much screen real estate to interface chrome and animations and not enough to the display of information. If we had to pick one nit that consistently annoyed us, it would be the odd placement of the screen's bottom row of soft buttons, which places the "display off" button far too prominently and crams the back button into the corner farthest from the driver. Both buttons are ambiguously labeled, leading to many accidental deactivations of the screen during song selection or destination entry.
Speaking of destination entry, our Rover was also equipped with the optional hard-drive-based GPS navigation system. The system is quite rudimentary, with no traffic data and no weather forecasts. Destination input is intuitive, trip routing was speedy, and the spoken turn-by-turn directions were easy enough to follow--even if its robotic voice was ever so slightly irritating.
Upgrading to the Lux trim level also replaces the stock 240-watt, eight-speaker audio rig with a 480-watt, 14-speaker Harman Kardon job that sounds fantastic. Audio quality on the flat EQ curve is balanced and distortion-free at nearly any volume. Staging is also very good thanks to the LR4's speaker placement and Logic7 signal processing. A bit of playing with the audio controls allowed us to tune the system to bring out the best in most genres of music we tested. But don't go too crazy with those bass and treble levels, as this system will let you tune it to distortion. Overall, this is a premium audio system worth upgrading to.
Our 2011 Land Rover LR4 HSE LUX earns a good performance score for its go-anywhere off-road power train and its surprising on-road performance. We didn't dock too many points for the Rover's truckish ride because, well, it's a truck. Fuel economy is a bit on the low side with an EPA estimated 12 city and 17 highway mpg, but when you consider that you're hauling around about 5,617 pounds of vehicle everywhere you go, the numbers aren't really that bad. Cabin comfort scores are middling. The LR4 offers everything we like to see in a vehicle of its price (navigation, standard Bluetooth, great-sounding premium audio), but the execution of these features (particularly the Bluetooth system and the plain-vanilla navigation system) leaves much to be desired.
The LR4 is an impressive blend of luxurious appointments (particularly at our Lux trim level) and rugged capability. Earlier we characterized the Rover LR4 as a big, dumb jock, but perhaps it's more of a gentle giant, a hulking athlete in a well-tailored suit. However, such a vehicle comes at a price.
Starting at $47,650 for the LR4 V8 gets you the one of the most capable off-road vehicles to ever pass through the Car Tech garage, and standard Bluetooth and a rear proximity sensor. Increase that price to $52,750 for the LR4 HSE and you get navigation, satellite radio, and iPod integration. At this trim level, you also get a fold-flat third row of seats and a rearview camera--the latter of which is very necessary for Rover owners in urban environments. Our LR4 HSE LUX starts at $57,665 and adds premium leather seats, a front proximity sensor, smart keyless entry and start, the 480-watt Harman Kardon audio rig, and the very cool center console refrigerator. Add $2,500 for 20-inch alloy wheels, $350 for black lacquer interior trim, a $100 gas guzzler tax, and an $850 destination charge to reach our as-tested price of $60,615.
|Model||2011 Land Rover LR4|
|Power train||5.0-liter direct-injected V-8, 4WD|
|EPA fuel economy||12 city/17 highway|
|Observed fuel economy||--|
|Navigation||HDD-based, no traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||yes|
|Disc player||single-disc CD/MP3|
|MP3 player support||USB port, iPod, analog 3.5mm auxiliary input|
|Other digital audio||HD radio, satellite radio|
|Audio system||480-watt, 14-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio|
|Driver aids||backup camera, front- and rear-proximity sensors|
|Price as tested||$60,615|