2012 Land Rover LR4
Starting MSRP $48,900
We all have our vices. One of mine is the Land Rover LR4. Land Rover is not known for making fuel-efficient cars, and as a good friend of the planet I find myself in a quandary. However, if given the chance, I'd buy a Land Rover LR4 in a heartbeat and happily drive it everywhere, filling up the gas tank again and again.
Perhaps this makes me a hypocrite, but perhaps it's more of an offsetting relationship where I can be environmentally friendly in many areas of my life while also enjoying the practical luxury of cars like the LR4 in other areas. If the latter is the case — I believe it is — perhaps I've found the elusive "perfect balance."
Balance is something the 2012 Land Rover LR4 embodies. Practical luxury and rugged capability coexist brilliantly in this car.
The LR4 has a gorgeous interior and is spacious enough for a family of five or seven, if you opt for the available third row. At the same time, it handles off-roading and other challenging terrains with ease. The V-8 engine is powerful, acceleration is smooth and for a car this size, it's surprisingly easy to maneuver with a particularly impressive turning diameter that's helpful on- and off-road.
The 2012 LR4 isn't dramatically different from 2011, but it does receive a few updates to its entertainment and navigation systems. There's a new standard stereo system that has 11 speakers, hard-drive storage and Bluetooth streaming audio. My test car featured the newly available 17-speaker stereo system that sounded terrific.
The 2012 LR4 has a starting price of $49,750, including an $850 destination charge. With the addition of the seven-seat HSE Lux Package that adds a third row, cooler box, premium leather and upgraded stereo, my test LR4 came to a grand total of $60,675.
The LR4's exterior design doesn't change much for 2012; it remains tall and boxy, standing out among the crowd of curvaceous SUVs. Nineteen-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels are standard, but now you can also opt to get 20-inch wheels with either a five-spoke gloss black design or a 10-split-spoke alloy design.
The LR4 comes standard with permanent four-wheel drive with traction control and Land Rover's Terrain Response system, which tailors vehicle characteristics to accommodate driving conditions. With a simple turn of the center knob, you can prepare the vehicle for conquering ice and snow, sand, mud or rock climbing.
As an SUV made for conquering all kinds of terrain, the LR4 is hefty, and the heavy doors are tough for small children to open, so be prepared to lend a helping hand. The tailgate is split into two asymmetrical parts, making it a two-step process to fully open. There is no power liftgate feature, and while I might normally complain about this, the LR4's tailgate keeps with the rugged spirit of the car. The step-in height is manageable but becomes more of a climb-in height for smaller kids.
Rear cargo space is plentiful as long as you don't use or have the optional third row. With the third row in use, there's just under 10 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is barely enough for your weekly grocery run. Thankfully, the third row is split 50/50, creating a little more cargo space if you have child-safety seat or passenger on only one side of the row, like I did. With the third row folded flat, cargo volume is more than 42 cubic feet, and with the second row folded, things open up to 90.3 cubic feet.
The engine is a hefty 5.0-liter V-8 with direct injection that makes 375 horsepower. It's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Normal, Sport and Manual shift modes. Premium fuel is required, and the LR4 gets an EPA-estimated 12/17 mpg city/highway.
Even though the fuel economy looks bad on paper, there is good news. Land Rover is highlighting its sustainable manufacturing practices and partnerships with conservation organizations as an attempt to soothe environmental concerns about this SUV. Maybe my vice isn't so bad after all.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The LR4 not only excels both off- and on-road, but it also envelops you with elegance and luxury. The leather upholstery and surfaces are so soft that I found myself petting them a regular basis. The interior is highlighted by the power sunroof and two fixed sunroofs over the second and third rows.
The gauges, circular vents and controls are outlined in brushed chrome and complete the overall posh look of the interior. The 7-inch touch-screen in the center stack also can be operated via voice commands, which is the more convenient method in my experience. The navigation system isn't intuitive as evidenced by the amount of cursing at it a certain passenger I toted around did (sorry, honey).
There is an abundance of headroom and legroom for the front- and second-row passengers, and three child-safety seats fit across the second-row bench. The only potential pitfall is the front passenger's legroom is sacrificed with the installation of a rear-facing infant seat behind it. The seats are also comfortable, with the exception of the optional third row that could use more padding.
When it comes to storage, there are all kinds of cubbies and compartments throughout the cabin, including an optional cooler box in the center console, which is great for hot summer days. There are four cupholders and four bottleholders on the doors as well as a double glove box.
Getting the third row to fold flat presents the biggest problem in the LR4's interior. The seats are heavy and the manual-folding process is militaristic in its rigidity. There is no power operation, which is fine, but whenever folding or unfolding the third row, I was scared I'd get a finger caught, and that's not fine.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample/Galore
The 2012 LR4 has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. The anchors are housed in small plastic wells. The outboard lower anchors are easy to access, but the inboard anchors present a challenge because the seat belt buckles get in the way. The third row doesn't include any lower anchors, but it does have seat belt buckles that are easy for kids and adults to use. Find out how the 2012 LR4 performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The LR4 has standard four-wheel drive with a Terrain Response System, antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, hill descent control and six airbags, including side curtains for the first and second rows. If you opt for the available third row, the 7 Seat Comfort Package includes side curtain airbags for the third row. Other optional features are front and rear parking sensor, auto-leveling headlights, a backup camera or a five-camera surround view system.
There are no crash-test ratings available for the 2012 Land Rover LR4. Get more safety information about the 2012 Land Rover LR4 here.
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