There are certain brands that invoke thoughts of luxury. Land Rover is one of these brands. Everyone knows when they see a Rover
–of the Land or Range variety
–that there's a certain amount of money and power involved.
In the case of the 2011 Land Rover LR4, the money is the almost reasonable, with a $47,650 starting price tag, and the power is the unparalleled V-8 engine. The 2011 LR4 is the epitome of luxury; however, it's not without its faults.
Underneath its luxurious exterior, the 2011 LR4 is a rugged workhorse. It's itching to get out in the desert, onto a mountainside or even an open highway to show you what it really can do. The V-8 engine is not only powerful, but you can't feel or hear the six-speed automatic transmission shift even when it's quiet in the SUV. In short, driving this SUV was mostly effortless.
Mostly effortless, because I'd love Land Rover to rethink its Latch connectors and make them more accessible. I'd also like a power liftgate instead of the split liftgate and tailgate. With those additions the ride would be totally effortless.
The 2011 LR4 hasn't changed much from the 2010 model year, which is fine because after last year's redesign it doesn't need much else. My test car clocked in with a sticker price of $56,950 as it was loaded with the Climate Comfort Package, HSE Vision Assist Package and HSE Package, which adds a third row. It had a lot to offer including automatic brights when you need them, beautiful leather and trim in the cabin, and a surround camera system.
There's something about the LR4 that catches the eye. The sparkly Rimini Red exterior, the buttery Almond leather interior, imposing 19-inch wheels and the renowned Land Rover rectangular shape combine to put the 2011 LR4 in one great-looking package.
Of course, part of this great-looking package
–the boxy shape
–means that the LR4 is tall, and my children had troubles getting in and out of it. By troubles, I mean they couldn't do it. I will add the disclaimer that my kids
–ages 4, 2 and 6 months
–are all on the small side. However, there have been plenty of cars that my two older children can get in and out of on their own. Not so with the LR4. The doors would have been too heavy for them to open on their own had they been able to reach them. I suppose my arms got a good workout lifting them in and out of this SUV, and if I'm driving the LR4, I need good arms to try and keep up with the SUV's good looks.
The engine is outstanding. It's a 375-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 that's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's equipped with Land Rover's Terrain Response system, which alters the engine response and vehicle characteristics to best match driving conditions. With a turn of the dial, you can adjust the car's suspension and gearings for normal road driving, snow/gravel/grass treks, rock climbs, desert rides or muddy encounters.
The LR4's ride is one of the smoothest I can remember. Just don't put anything except the most premium of gasoline in this engine. It would be a crime to feed such a precious pet anything less than the best. The LR4 doesn't get the best gas mileage, though. It gets a dismal EPA-estimated 12/17 mpg city/highway.
SENSE AND STYLE
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
Even from the outside, the inside looks pretty. My test car's Almond and Nutmeg-colored leather upholstery was gorgeous and inviting. The straight-grained walnut trim was beautiful, too.
A couple of LR4's features are notable for what they add to the driving and passenger experience. The fixed Alpine roof with power front sunroof was lovely. My youngest child was utterly bewitched by her view. The snow, sun and stars kept her gaze and the corners of her cherubic mouth upward. Also worth mentioning are the seats, which are soft and cradling; the optional Harman Kardon 14-speaker sound system; and the soothing LED lighting that comes as part of the $4,250 HSE Package.
I didn't have much difficulty getting the third-row seats up and down, but access for my son, whose convertible child-safety seat was back there, was somewhat challenging. He had a choice of either going through the second row
–the 35/30/35-split second row allowed some access
–or climbing in via the tailgate. Either way, it required more effort than I'd like since I had to do a lot of the lifting and contorting to get him up and in. Another minor but mentionable snafu was my rear visibility was slightly hampered with his convertible seat in the third row. Thankfully, the Surround Camera system, which uses five cameras to give a full view of everything around the vehicle, helped. It's part of the optional HSE Vision Assist Package ($1,800).
One plus about the third row is the usability for adult passengers. Since the LR4 is so tall there's leg- and headroom to spare back there.
Another bonus is once the third-row seats are down the cargo volume is terrific. Even with my son's convertible seat installed I was able to keep one of the third-row seats folded, which allotted me a healthy dose of cargo space.
One last thing about the cargo space
–more precisely, how you access it. The rear liftgate is split, which ostensibly allows for greater rear visibility, but I found it kind of frustrating. It's a matter of taste, but as with my bathing suits these days, I'd rather have a one-piece than a two-piece when it comes to liftgates. Making it a power liftgate would be swell, too.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
While my son's forward-facing convertible fit well in the third row, the second row's two sets of Latch anchors were difficult to access. There are no Latch anchors in the third row. They weren't the worst anchors that I've ever been forced to find, but they certainly weren't the best. Frankly, I'm down on most Latch anchors these days because I'm tired of having to dig underneath mounds of leather or cloth to find a simple bar that helps ensure my child's safety in the car.
One of the wonderful things about the LR4 was I was able to fit all three of my children's car seats in it. If you, like me, have three small children who ride in big car seats, you know this is no small task. The rear-facing infant seat fit in the second row and managed to still leave the front passenger plenty of legroom; the convertible seats that my older children ride in fit well into the second and third rows without interrupting anyone else's legroom.
The LR4 has standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, traction control, an electronic stability system with anti-roll control, hill start assist, hill descent control, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and six airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows. Side curtains for the third row are part of the HSE Package ($4,250), which includes the optional third row.
My test car had the Vision Assist Package, which was brilliant. This includes xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights and the surround camera system as well as adaptive front headlights and high-beam assist. I've always been a fan of adaptive xenon headlights, but this was the first time I had high-beam assist in a test car. It was great. I have terribly night vision and need some extra help, even when I'm wearing my glasses. When the LR4's high beams turned on automatically as my husband and I were driving home late one night, I fell instantly in love with the LR4.
Get more safety information about the 2011 Land Rover LR4 here.
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