What It Is
This unique three-row SUV has as much power as it has personality.
Comfortable seats complement a spacious interior.
Its horrendous fuel economy quickly becomes apparent.
While this may be a niche product, it doesn't have to be.
Three sunroofs, a mini-fridge, and a completely blacked-out exterior. That was enough to convince me to take a turn behind the wheel of the 2014 Land Rover LR4.
Packed with luxury and off-road prowess, the Land Rover LR4 may not be a buyer's first thought for a luxury SUV, but it manages to stand out in its own right. That's because it really doesn't have any direct competitors. In theory, it may go against the Lexus GX460, Cadillac Escalade, and Infiniti QX80, but these vehicles don't have the same rugged appeal. It could also compete with the Toyota Land Cruiser, but this model doesn't have the same luxury cache. The Land Rover LR4 stands on its own merits, but just how practical is it as an everyday driver? We went to find out.
What We DroveThe base Land Rover LR4 starts at $50,625, but costs add up quickly once you move further up the line. Our model was the top-of-the-line HSE Lux, which adds over $10,000 to the base price. This model has an extra third row, upgraded leather, heated first and second row seats, as well as navigation with voice controls and a Meridian surround sound system. And although it hasn't been crash tested by the government, it comes with a variety of safety features including rearview camera, hill start assist, active roll mitigation, and electronic stability control.
Our model came with a number of optional packages that further increases the price. A Santorini Black exterior paint adds $475, and a black interior lacquer replaces the standard wood trim for $350. For an extra $3,500, we added 20-inch black wheels and a blacked-out exterior. A Heavy Duty Package-- including a twin speed transfer box, active rear locking differential, and spare wheel--tacked on $1,350. SiriusXM and HD Radio added $750, while a Vision Assist package with blind spot monitor brought along an additional $1,600. All in all, our vehicle came out to $68,850, including a destination fee.
The CommuteIn some ways, the LR4 looks and feels like a tank, albeit an exceptionally comfortable and luxurious one. Drivers feel safe and high up off the ground, and to top it off, this vehicle handles road imperfections with ease. Take it around a sharp corner and feel the solid ride and tight grip of the tires.
On the highway, you won't outgun a BMW, but acceleration comes fairly quickly considering the size of this car. Really putting pressure on the gas pedal reveals a loud, hardworking engine, however. In traffic, a stop/start system conserves fuel and doesn’t disrupt the driving experience. Any savings help, considering fuel economy comes in at 16 mpg in combined driving. That's the same as a 2010 Hummer H3.
The Grocery RunWhile some may dread parking this large vehicle, its tight turning radius, large rear windows, and helpful technology eases the process. A rearview camera and parking sensors let drivers know just how much room they have on all sides of the vehicle. We surprisingly didn't have much trouble parking this behemoth even in small spaces.
Loading groceries into the trunk is a bit more difficult. Drivers have to remove the top hatch then separately lift down the bottom piece, and the car's high stance requires some reach. But fortunately there is plenty of space—at least when the seats are all folded down flat. With all rows or one row folded down, drivers have a gargantuan 90.3 or 42.1 cubic feet of space, respectively. But when all rows are in use, that space diminishes to less than 10 cubic feet. Those who need a little more room in back should consider the Infiniti QX80.
The Weekend FunSince we couldn't take it on an African safari, we cruised through the city, highways, and beaches of Southern California. But we didn't need a big adventure, considering this car has plenty of entertainment within.
Available as an option, a DVD entertainment system allows passengers to enjoy watching shows or movies through 8-inch screens mounted on back of the front seats. A premium Meridian sound system allows the whole crew to enjoy quality sound through 17 speakers. We didn't have much trouble with the infotainment system, although working the radio takes time to learn. Also, we were able to use the navigation system extensively. Cluttered with too many menus, the nav system definitely has a learning curve. Same with the voice controls, although the system managed to pick up everything we said, despite any road noise.
Bringing along the entire crew for a weekend trip is no problem in this seven passenger car given the comfortable seats. Even the middle of the second row is a legitimate seat. As typical in many seven-seater SUVs, the back row is a little more cramped. And for cranky passengers who get hungry along the way? A mini-fridge in the center console makes it possible to carry food to and from the house safely on long trips.
SummaryA confident ride, good acceleration, and a highly comfortable cabin adds significant appeal to the 2014 Land Rover LR4. Even its poor fuel economy isn't enough to dissuade us, as this is somewhat typical in its class. However, Jaguar Land Rover's history of questionable reliability makes it hard for us to firmly recommend this model.
Our particular model spoiled us with thousands of dollars worth of options, and we weren't complaining. But we think most buyers won't need all the extras. For those who will transport just five passengers, we would recommend opting for the base trim level, which still offers leather upholstery, a touchscreen, power seats, keyless entry, and much more. Those who want the full three rows of seating will have to opt for the next trim level up.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $68,850
EPA City: 14
EPA Highway: 19
EPA Combined: 16
Cargo Space: 5 grocery bags with all seats up Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Good
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row: Good
Estimated Combined Range: 365 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Below Average