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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Land Rover LR4The LR4 is the big seven-seat luxury SUV you totally forgot about. Complicated tech, funhouse ergonomics, and laughable gas mileage, yes, but it's just...so nice!
-The 2011 Land Rover LR4--it's the luxury SUV you kind of forgot about. It's big. It's full of complicated technology. And, with gas creeping back towards $4 a gallon, its MPG numbers alone are a serious red flag. But, then again, it's just so nice inside. I'm Molly Wood. Let's climb on up in this big box and have a look at the tech, shall we? The LR4 is the new version of the LR3. It's not a whole separate model. But in terms of the Land Rover lineup, it fits above the LR2 and below the Range Rover. One thing to note about the tech in this car, none of it is available a la carte. It's pretty much all about the packages and the base model comes with not very much. You get a 5-inch LCD screen, but it's just for the AM/FM and CD stereo system. But you do not, even though you're driving a giant unparkable box, get a back up camera with the base model of this car. For that, you're gonna have to upgrade to the HSE package. That adds $4250 to the price of the car. That will give you the back up camera. You also, then, get the hard-drive-based GPS navigation, satellite radio, and HD radio, plus an iPod connector and third row climate controls. The HSE Lux package adds another $4915 over the HSE package. You're also 10-grand over base if you're playing at home. Now that gives you a 480-watt 14-speaker system--pretty good; a really nice, passive, keyless entry, smart key here, although this key is big and it weighs a lot; and then you get my favorite feature, the mini fridge, in the center console here. Look at that! Although, here's the thing: you're supposed to use it with this tray on to keep all the cold air in, and if you do that, it's not tall enough for even a bottle of water. It basically only fits like sippy cups, string cheese, and maybe cans of beer, I guess--party car. From there, it's just another short $1800 hop to a Vision package that has a tow assist feature, consisting of a surround view camera. You can enlarge 2 specific images, change the proximity on the views, and use 1 of 3 special camera views to show you the curb, a junction view, or the trailer you're hauling. Now, a couple of notes on some of this tech. The nav interface is not my favorite. It is a responsive touch screen and the navigation is pretty fast, but I am not a fan of nav systems that make you enter a destination, and then choose a destination menu item to choose the right destination, and then start guidance. And once again, at this point, my Android phone is delivering better turn-by-turn directions than almost any in-car nav system I've seen. There's also no voice entry for destinations, which is just a pain to do while you're driving. It does have, though, one of my favorite luxury features: a heated steering wheel. Oh, I love a heated steering wheel! Now, as a car tech enthusiast, I do like to see a car with a lot of buttons. This car has a lot of buttons. So, let's just start at the top and work our way down. I mean, for one thing, it has a 4-way knob for adjusting the steering wheel. The lights, you can turn on, like, each individual fog lamp if you want to. This row of buttons here contains your seat warmers, your traction control, and if you have the HSE Lux package, this is where you'll find your Parking Assist button. This is the one where you will actually get alerts if you're about to mow down the Smart ForTwo that's parked in front of you. It will be totally invisible to you, I promise. The transmission on the LR4 is a pretty basic 6-speed automatic. It does have, though, in this left-hand position, Sport Mode, which does add a noticeable amount of fun, and Manual Mode. Now, the transmission modes that I mentioned are here. So, you have your Normal here, Grass/Gravel/Snow for slippery conditions, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and then finally Rock Crawl. The LR4 also has an air suspension, so these buttons here control the height of the vehicle. You have a little over 4 inches to play with. So, the Up button will raise it up 2.2 inches if you need a little more ground clearance. The middle line here is Normal. And then, you can actually lower the car by 2 inches, basically to make it easier to get in and out, and to load cargo, and you will notice the difference. Now, if you hold down the Down arrow button and the lock comes on, you've locked the vehicle in its lowered position. It's called Crawl and it lets you move forward, with the car lowered 2 inches, at a very slow speed. Basically, it's good if you need to creep under a low clearance sign or into your garage. I'm just saying. It's a really tall car. Then, to the right of your Hill Descent control button, you have your transfer gearbox control. This is just your basic high/low controls. This is your normal driving situation and this is when you need a little extra torque because you're driving at the side of Mount Everest as you do. One cool thing to note about the traction control settings, when you're adjusting them, if you hit this 4x4 Info button here, it will actually give you a visual indicator of what's happening. So, if I switch over to my Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, you can see I have actually locked my differentials so I'm not gonna be sliding around a lot. This is pretty cool. New for the LR4 is this 5.0-liter direct injection V8. It delivers 375 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque. That sounds like a lot of power until I tell you that the Land Rover here weighs 5600 pounds. It does 0 to 60 in 7-1/2 seconds, and the gas mileage is a laughable 12/17. In fact, in a weekend's worth of driving including a lot of highway time, I averaged 12.6 miles per gallon. No wonder all those Prius people were giving me such dirty looks. In fact, the CO2 rating is a 5 and the greenhouse rating is a 1. If you buy this car, you're telling the world that you really do not care. Although, hey, thanks to the all-wheel drive, the terrain controls, and the hill descent control, you should have no problem handling the freak snowstorms that are ravaging your state. Now, at first glance, the LR4 looks basically like a refrigerator on wheels, to borrow a phrase. That might be as a result of this Fuji White paint job though. It's definitely square no matter how you look at it. The overwhelming design characteristic is this Alpine roof. It's basically a big pane of glass that sits over the second and third rows. Now, it gives the whole car a really roomy feel and, in fact, there's visibility for a daze, which is pretty rare in this age of low-slung, futuristic cars. But even though there's a ton of room in the cabin here, the back seats are inexcusably small. That's just not fun to get in and out of, and I know it's to make room for the third row seats. But the third row seats are even more useless. This car does seat 7, but 4 of them better be kids on the way to soccer practice. Although, let's be honest, they probably are. Now, but one benefit of driving this oversized cube here is that with those third row seats folded down, you'd probably load an elephant into the back here. I mean, look at that. It's huge. A couple of other things of note about this car, first, each door weighs about as much as another car. It's ridiculous. It's a workout. You don't wanna let this thing hit you if you're parked on a hill. You could die. All right. And then, once you get in, the LR4 has this weird Alice in Wonderland feel to it because you have all this room here and you're sitting up so high, but then all the controls you need are way down here. It just has a little bit of a fun house feel. The drive is the best thing about this car. It's just nice. If you didn't feel so awful everything you looked down at the average MPG there, you'd be looking for excuses to run a couple of extra errands. On smooth roads, the LR4 is really just to love. On uneven pavement though, look out. The tall, narrow, LR4 sways back and forth like a boat on a choppy sea. So, not only will your passengers feel violently ill in just a few minutes, I felt a little dizzy even as the driver. You don't wanna do any twisties with this car. But the suspension is surprisingly smooth and it absorbs bumps and potholes pretty easily. And as for you, you'll never feel more pampered between the heated seats, the heated steering wheel, the butter-soft leather, the lumbar support, the 8-way adjustable seats. It is, all in all, a very comfortable car. Now, the base price on the LR4 is $48,700 before an $850 destination charge. Once we loaded it up with packages, our test car here topped out at a little over $60,000. Now, that's still several thousands less than a BMW X5 with similar equipment. So, it works out to be a pretty decent bang for your buck. If you're in the market for a blatant gas guzzler that will keep your hands, your bottom, and the planet warm while you go on a lot of juice box runs, I guess this is the car for you.