The LR4 has never been my first choice in the Land Rover range, I don’t love the exterior styling and the vehicles proportions look a little dated. This mild refresh for the 2014 model year LR4 improves those detractors a bit.
The Discovery 4, as it’s known in other markets, has been woefully outclassed in a market of newer products, with Land Rover seemingly unwilling to give it the attention it deserved, until Land Rover finally took the wraps off of a freshened LR4 at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Has Land Rover done enough to make the LR4 as significant to the CUV/SUV competition as the new, lighter Range Rover to the top-shelf luxury segment?
Arguably, the biggest news here is the new powertrain. The 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 and ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic nets torque over a wider range of engine speeds with peak torque available from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm, where as the V8 topped out only at 3,500 rpm. Land Rover quotes the model’s run to 60 at a relaxed 7.7 seconds, down 0.2 seconds from the V8 model. That’s 1.5 seconds slower than a BMW X5 xDrive35i and 0.4 seconds slower than a 302-hp Mercedes-Benz ML350. The LR4 just doesn’t benefit from the V6 the way the new, much lighter Range Rover does.
With 5,600 pounds of mass to move about the LR4 showed a lack of pace. It feels slow pulling away from lights, before the engine hits peak torque, the Range Rover Sport felt like it got out of the hole much quicker. At higher speeds, things improve – mid-range punch is adequate, and the LR4 feels great accelerating on the highway. The LR4 was fitted with ZF’s eight-speed automatic for 2014, which is arguably the best non-dual-clutch modern transmission on the market. Upshifts are quick and smooth, as are the aptly timed downshifts.
Although my tester wasn’t outfitted with it, the distinctive Black Design Pack which black out the grille, hood lettering, side vents, mirror caps and rear badges, adds a set of twin five-spoke, 20-inch wheels is worth a look. Paired with a light body color like the Fuji White paint the LR4 can look incredible. I found my Silver base LR4 a bit drab.
The LR4 is a fishbowl and offers great views in every direction. The only time you need the cameras is when you’re parking. You have a great seating position in the LR4, and all the controls are within reach and you have to love the adjustable armrests.
On the road the LR4 is nowhere near as well natured as the Range Rover, it feels crashy. There is a lot of vertical movement and most of it seems to enter and reverberate about the cabin. Handling behavior is what you expect for a vehicle with such a high ride height feeling a little tipsy around corners. Steering is lightly weighted to make maneuvering the big lug around easy.
The LR4 is what I’d consider an irrational purchase for most. You must first consider how this vehicle will travel most of its miles, on the road to be sure, and for that there are better options out there for the money – many of which are within the Land Rover family. The LR4 remains fairly slow, and the ride isn’t the greatest. It’s also almost hysterically inefficient getting only 16 miles per gallon combined, I couldn’t even manage that. All that said, the LR4 offers genuine off-road capability in a class where almost nothing else does, so if you need a real SUV with luxury to boot you’re in the small segment of people this vehicle makes sense for.