Upscale 2014 Land Rover LR4 still solid off-roader, too

  • Article by: ANN M. JOB , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 16, 2014 - 11:15 AM

Land Rover's capable and rugged LR4 mid-size sport utility vehicle is more fuel efficient for 2014 and has refreshed exterior front styling and new standard features such as rearview camera.

But thankfully, the upper-crust ambience of this Brtitish-built, well-stocked, middle-range SUV in Land Rover's lineup remains.

The base LR4 still comes with its iconic and dated boxy shape, oodles of headroom, air suspension system and power sunroof over the front seats with stationary glass panels farther back that are all standard.

Full-time all-wheel drive continues to be standard, too, though the revised single-speed transfer box for 2014 is lighter and adjusted for more efficient on-road travel.

There are important changes: Fuel mileage is up a bit, rising from a combined city/highway rating of 14 miles per gallon in 2013 to 16 mpg in the new model. The LR4's 375-horsepower V-8 has been replaced by a supercharged V-6 delivering 340 horses. A more fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the LR4's old six-speed automatic, too.

And an automatic stop-start system is added to turn off the LR4 engine in most circumstances when the vehicle is at a stop and idling.

Buyers who want Land Rover's famous off-road performance can opt for a two-speed transfer case on the LR4. It includes low gearing for strenuous rock climbing and other off-road maneuvers.

Though not as much a status symbol as Land Rover's higher-priced, Range Rover, the LR4, nonetheless, conveys to onlookers that its owner is a person of means. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for 2014 rose above $50,000 to $51,725 for a base, five-seat LR4 with the single-speed transfer box.

The twin-speed transfer box comes with an option package that adds $1,350. For an additional $1,250, buyers also can select an optional third row of seats that allow a maximum of seven passengers inside the LR4.

Some competitors in this luxury mid-size SUV segment have lower starting retail prices and offer models with and without four- or all-wheel drive.

For example, the 2014 Acura MDX that has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $43,460 for a front-wheel drive model and $45,460 for an all-wheel drive model. All MDX models come standard with seven seats and a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V-6. The 2014 MDX carries a federal government fuel economy rating of 21 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This is 31 percent higher than the fuel mileage rating of the 2014 LR4.

Meanwhile, the five-passenger, 2014 BMW X5 sDrive35i SUV has a starting retail price of $53,750 with 300-horsepower, three-liter, twin-turbo, inline six cylinder and rear-wheel drive. A 2014 X5 xDrive35i with all-wheel drive starts at $56,050 and has a combined city/highway mileage rating of 21 mpg from the federal government.

Part of the appeal of the LR4 is its tall, boxy shape that harkens back to its predecessor SUVs traversing Africa's Serengeti. There is something safari-like in the LR4's exterior looks that's unique in today's SUV crowd.

But inside, the LR4's smartly stitched leather seat coverings, high-riding seats front and back and rich-looking interior trim pieces set a high-brow tone.

It's a split personality, for sure, but it works, especially for buyers who want something unique.

They certainly won't find themselves driving past a lot of LR4s in this country. Just 7,093 were sold here last calendar year. Sales this year are on pace to be lower than that.

The test LR4 was an HSE trim level and came with a good amount of luxury appointments.

But even the base LR4 has standard dual-zone, automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, 7-inch, touchscreen display screen in the middle of the dashboard, 19-inch wheels and tires, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a British Meridian audio system.

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