When you consider buying a Land Rover vehicle, you can generally rest assured that you’re going to get top notch off-road capability and extraordinary luxury inside the cabin. The 2012 LR4 delivers both.
I’ve always thought there are two main buyers of Land Rover vehicles. The first group is drivers who need to travel far from the beaten path and want the best possible off-road performance more than they want the luxury inside. The second, and maybe the larger group, is drivers who want the luxury inside more than they want the off-road capability. To the drivers in the second group, the Land Rover is a status symbol that will likely not see much more rough terrain than the valet line at the Ritz-Carlton. And they appreciate having the other capabilities just in case. But regardless of the reasons why people buy Land Rovers, they all get the same thing: An outstanding luxury driving machine that can get them virtually anywhere that it can fit.
The Land Rover’s capability is generally thanks to the Terrain Response System, which can be set to adjust the vehicle’s height, suspension and drivetrain for five different off-road conditions: general, snow, mud, sand and rocks. The LR4 also has hill descent control, which is like cruise control for steep declines.
A couple of years back, we took a Land Rover through the mountains near the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., where the aforementioned “steep declines” were just that. When you’re sitting at the edge of a steep hill and your hands on the steering wheel are the only things keeping you from falling into the windshield, it can be a little spooky to just “take your foot off the brake” and trust the vehicle. The natural inclination is to keep the brake pedal smashed to the floor. But when you work up the courage to let go, the vehicle regulates its descent down the hill way better than you could have.
This type of off-road capability is standard with the LR4. The main things new for 2012 are inside the cabin, primarily in the navigation and audio systems. A 7-inch touchscreen displays the vehicle’s audio systems and navigation, as well as a backup camera. Overall, it’s a fine system, and the harmon/kardon audio is terrific. But before the map will display, the driver has to push a button that says, basically, “Yes I am aware that I shouldn’t be fooling with this screen while I’m driving.”
The cabin contains world-class comfort, wrapped in what has to be some of the finest leather available. Also included are dual-zone climate control, firm power seats with adjustable armrests for the driver and passenger, elegant walnut trim, a power sunroof with alpine roofs for the back two rows, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and iPod ports, auxiliary jacks and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls.
Powering the LR4 is a 5.0-liter V-8 hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission with normal, sport and manual shift modes. The engine cranks out 375 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque.
On the road, the LR4 is powerful and stable. Because of its tall, boxy shape, the vehicle can lean in hard cornering. But braking is excellent thanks to the 4-wheel ABS system with electronic brakeforce distribution and cornering brake control. The vehicle has six airbags, and has not yet been rated in government crash tests.
Mileage isn’t great: 12 miles per gallon in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. The base price of the 2012 Land Rover LR4 is $48,900. With really cool 20-inch gloss black wheels, the 7-seat HSE Package and HD radio with Sirius Satellite Radio, the bottom line on the test vehicle was $57,725.
So whether you’re looking for incredible off-road performance or you just want to know it’s there if you need it, the 2012 Land Rover LR4 is your status symbol ticket to ride.
Engine 5.0-liter V-8
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Test model base price $48,900
As tested price $57,725
EPA mileage rating 12mpg city / 17 mpg highway