2011 Land Rover LR4
2011 Land Rover LR4. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2011 Land Rover LR4

If you’re looking for a sensible family vehicle, the 2011 Land Rover LR4 will not be, as the Brits say, your cup of tea. However, for those open to owning a piece of British automotive royalty that is just as happy mall-crawling as it is rock-crawling, this tall boy from the UK makes for an intriguing proposition.

Sybaritic pleasure and extreme off-roading capability make strange bedfellows, but that’s what Land Rover is all about. As you may know, this model Landie, which sits below the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport in the marque’s hierarchy, experienced a significant metamorphosis for model year 2010, enough that its moniker gained a digit – the LR3 became the LR4.

First, they addressed the LR3’s tippy on-road demeanour, mitigated with the addition of enlarged anti-roll bars, stiffened dampers and a new steering rack. Visually, new headlight clusters, LED taillights and some exterior cosmetic tweaks gave it more upscale distinction. The LR3 to LR4 transformation also included a completely redone interior, bringing it more in line with big brother Range Rover.

The other major improvement was found under the hood. An all-new Jaguar-sourced direct-injection 5.0-litre V8 kicked the horse count up by 75 to 375 hp, along with 375 lb.-ft. of torque. This is a terrific engine, featuring crisp throttle response, linear power delivery and a robust exhaust note. Hooked to a six-speed automatic, the LR4 moves out smartly.

2011 Land Rover LR4
2011 Land Rover LR4
2011 Land Rover LR4. Click image to enlarge

The 2011 LR4 kicks off at $59,900, which casts it in a pretty favourable light when looking at the other V8-powered European offerings: the Mercedes-Benz ML550 4Matic at $69,700, the BMW X5 xDrive5.0i at $74,300, and the Porsche Cayenne S at $72,700. The Audi Q7 no longer comes with a V8.

The LR4 is the odd duck here, still sporting a low-speed transfer case and serious off-road capability. But would we expect anything less? It’s a tough cookie, with a unique structure of a monocoque body shell on a ladder frame that Land Rover calls Integrated Body Frame. Building the passenger compartment and engine bay like a unibody vehicle while bolting the drive-train and suspension to a ladder frame pays off in structural rigidity, cabin isolation and towing capacity – 3,500 kg with the optional tow package.

This also makes for a hefty 2,567 kg curb weight. So it’s no surprise this porky SUV with the drag coefficient of a Holiday Inn gets lousy fuel mileage. During my week of testing, the LR4 dented my wallet to the tune of 16.3 L/100 km of premium gas. Ouch.

Owners will need to come to peace with the fact that they are spending extra gas money to haul around a whack of dedicated off-roading kit that they’ll likely never use.

And trust me, what’s not being used is the real deal. Having experienced several days of extreme jungle off-roading in an LR3, I’ve seen what these SUVs are capable of, and it is truly astounding.

The LR4 gets a few upgrades for 2011. They include standard heated steering wheel, Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control (helps the driver negotiate severe slopes/gradients encountered in off-road driving conditions), available black lacquer finish interior trim, halogen headlamps on the HSE Package that now include LED signature lighting, premium audio upgrade available on HSE Package and a new Vision Assist Package for HSE and HSE LUX Packages that includes xenon HID headlamps (HSE only, already standard on HSE LUX); Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS; swivelling headlights); Automatic High Beam Assist (AHBA) and a Surround Camera System.

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