Wheel time in the 2016 LR4 with its sexy new Black Package has turned my frown upside down. We really thought the car was outflanked in 2016 by the exploding market for seven seat crossovers, let alone the new three-row varieties of Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport also in the American lineup.
The LR4's familiar silhouette hides an all-new -- and SUPERB -- standard powertrain, all-new LEDs all around and even the dripping-wet hotness of dark 20s and a full blackout of every exterior detail. All this is either new since 2015 or fresh for the new model year, and the changes extend to the new flash-memory infotainment setup as well.
And this is all static surprise/delight up close with the truck we thought we knew so well. On the roads, this Fuji White charmer even starts to feel a little frisky in its youthful drive manners and speedy motor. There are quirks to mention in this full review, but the resounding reset the LR4 delivers in person requires a rethink among buyers. Yes, the 2016 LR4 from $51k is still solidly in the SUV game for virile adventurers.
Three HD videos here along with 100 new photos to join headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing.
The LR4 Discovery gains new Graphite and Landmark special editions in its home UK market for 2016, nicely complementing the Black Package upgrades we have on the dock in the USA for the new model-year.
Neither goes as far as the Black Pack at revamping the look of the truck, and my jaw hit the floor at its bright hotness as this LR4 arrived. The $3,600 upgrade to Black spec includes the split five-spoke 20's, performance rubber, special roof rack/grilles/badging/lighting that is all either molten-hot black lava in finish, or deeply tinted to match. The side grilles. The lettering. The mirror caps. Even the taillamps with their intriguing 3D-reflective LEDs? Vogued.
Just the running boards escape the black paint vat, but are nice anyway in their silver.
Beyond this well-worthwhile upgrade, the tester is an HSE Lux trimline, the most plush of the three available. This brings bi-xenon HID lights that are otherwise optional, but all LR4s wear new (and v pretty) quad LED DRLs in the headlamps. No longer the dot-matrix shape: these are fully automatic, superbright continuous tubes of light. The U-shape of white LED wraps the delightful camera-lens HID, while amber LED blinkers live inside the rally-inspired circular LEDs. These are vastly updated versus the dot-like units from before.
It is all very effective at feeling new in the flesh.
Everything about the LR4 with LEDs blaxing nose says 'full Range Rover' in the best way.
A slightly updated lower bumper element is still mostly dark plastic, but cuts a chic and even Bowler-like jawline and face to the world.
Around the side, and we're back to very aged-looking. At first.
But then notice the gorgeous tinted glass all around, even the front windows and windshield to a lesser extent. The roof itself matches the white/black outfit nicely: they are black-tinted for the front moonroof and the fixed safari view from the back rows.
In all, the LR4 is photogenic and handsome for its time in the fleet.
Wishlist? We wish the 'Access Height' setting for the air suspension had a much lower choice, and one that could be locked into 'stance' mode for all speed driving. (The current setting flips off around 25-mph.) That lower height makes a HUGE difference in the look. Almost as much as its off-road 'Tall' setting does at making you look adventure-bound. As it is... in low mode, the slightly obtrusive fixed running boards help visually ground the truck even more. The Escalade, Expedition and many others have power-folding running boards these days, and the LR4 should too.
Next, the foglamps would be nicer in LED, as their halogen bulbs do not match the rest of the LR4's new mug. This can be an easy DIY swap for owners, though.
Around back, the hard points of the truck are basically set for now in their functional way: split-tailgate and grey-plastic lower fascia and bumper. A cleaner tow-bar integration is employed by competitors, who also have more shouty exhausts -- both in style and sound.
Beyond that? A truck you will be proud to own. Daily.
The cabin of the LR4 tester is where its $10k HSE Lux upgrade makes the most difference, of course. Windsor leathers over fantastic, thone-like seats make your day. Visibility is superb, as is the overall driving position. A few choices are available for all sizes of people. You can sit close and upright, or lower and more relaxed for a sporty drive. Power controls for all, of course.
The seat extends lower than we expected, and same goes for the steering wheel. You feel commendably sporty at the helm, but another two inches of down travel would be nice. The wheel also stays fairly upright, albeit while very comfortable and commanding, even in its most-extended setting. Limits, but also benefits for shorties and city drivers, of the classic Land Rover posture. You have great control and visibility (at least to the front) in the LR4, which is also VERY easy to park.
The hardcore SUVs in the LR4 competitive set are all -- to some extent -- unwieldy in tight parking garages and lots. The LR4's light helm and tight turning circle make it much friendlier and easier to pilot than most.
Same goes for ingress/egress for the first two rows. The back doors are especially huge and yet pretty lightweight. This makes them very kid-friendly to open, hop inside, and shut without extra help. The third row is another story...
Entry takes a moment to find the slide/fold button near lower seat base, and moving the seat is not as easy and kid-doable as the Nissan Pathfinder. A slightly heavy action for the slide of the seat is what we mean, to get to the back row. The second row is HUGE. Wide and airy, with room to fully fold down the middle throne to its locked, table-like position. Seat-heat and power-socket complement many HVAC vents at floor, mid and roof heights. You will be cosy in row two.
Trying to phrase the next information diplomatically...
But the third row is ... not good.
If the giant extended roofline suggests a big third row back here versus the Range Rover Sport, but you will be very disappointed. These are jump seats, in the classic sense, with near-zero shape or padding. The footroom is also woeful, and very mid-size-SUVish. The Escalade, GLS350, QX80 and the other full-size trucks have actual third rows of seating, without bum-on-the-floor refugee status for passengers six and seven. You are likely to have at least one of these folded down to have a flat and roomy trunk area.
A final head-scratcher or missing item? The tailgate is not super friendly for moms and kids. The upper section opens easily enough, and the buttom part flopped out flat as needed with one hand too. But no auto-close mechanism for either, unfortunately. The very tall upper glass piece needs a good thunk to close right. In general, it's all fine in isolation. But a power tailgate closure would be greatly appreciated by owners.
OKAY! Back to GOOD for this LR4.
Tech is a place where the new-gen Land Rovers have yet to really prove themselves. We've read all the gripes, but do not share them. The only place the 2016 LR4's touch-screen infotainment and nav feels old-fashioned is its actual screen size. Fit in the dashtop, this will grow in the future. But even as it stands, the unit is a definite B+ overall, with updated 3D graphics for maps as you drive. B-grade button responsiveness and processing speed, too. But some tricky control interface quirks between the screen and the button-based stereo/climate.
Example? Hooking up your device for Bluetooth phone calls is a piece of cake. Good voice quality from the quiet ride on the road.
As is it simple to plug in: there are two aux-in points and two usb-in points inside the glovebox.
While all these plug in and appear to be charging or ready to play sound... they do not. It took four days and an eventual forums visit to discover: the Source button on the stereo face has a sub-menu in the touchscreen. From there, you find the "SOURCE +" button, where you can select the aux audio source among bluetooth, USB in, iPod(phone) USB in, or simple audio jack as the input. Before finding the Source+ options on the touchscreen, we had **almost** given up on getting it to play audio from my phone, despite having a half-dozen cables desperate to tether in.
Once we found the right menu, all the cords were not even needed. Bluetooth audio streaming works like a charm!
So silly -- just mentioning it as a quirky caveat for owners. If you do not like something, ask the LR people about it. There may be another way.
Another way to smile as big at this giant hulk at speed? Perhaps!
The new 340-horsepower supercharged V6 in the LR4 is a DREAM.
The old V8 just feels so lumbering and heavy by comparison. Despite 332-pound-feet of torque and a fairly modest displacement, the engine pulls hard through its eight-speed ZF automatic. This automatic is a power multiplier for the TDSC engine. There is tons of torquey grunt low in the rev band, and the engine with its third-gen supercharger has none of the old whirring whine. It is a techy zing up the rev band. As each gear snicks locked into giving its max power, the engine is milliseconds behind with power to spare. Like catching a giant wave, and gliding into the shore with immense power behind you.
The 'S' drive mode is friskiest; game to kick down and hold gears to make good progress without booting it to the floor. S mode also lets the tactile and helpful shift paddles work. They are locked out of D mode, for some reason. (Perhaps tweakable.. per above.)
The S mode hangs on a bit too long in gear for our stabby traffic throttling, so the D mode's excellent decisions will take most of your miles.
The LR4 is fast?
It feels it! Official pace for this bruiser is respectable, but the on-road manners and pace impress with their V8-like shove, yet light nose.
The truck actually handles!
You would not assume the LR4 Disco loves corners, but it does for 2016. We wish the steering had a quicker Sport setting, because it is relaxed and safety-focused with its slow initial turn-in.
More surprising even than the LR4 feeling snappy on full throttle? It does not feel tippy AT ALL in hard driving, even on narrow country roads with wonky cambers. Throw some stone walls and heath fields in the background, and the UK's roads mean the LR4 handles like a rockstar everywhere else.
The LR4 shockers keep coming: Light but accurate and confidence-inspiring from behind the wheel.
The LR4 is priced from $51k in the USA for 2016, with all coming standard with the fantastic new engine/transmission and standard full-time 4x4.
The Heavy Duty package on the test truck includes a locking rear differential (in addition to the center one) and a dedicated low-range setting for the off-road modes. With the towing package, cargo management solutions and $1k moonroof, the HSE Lux comes in at $65k. Adding the Black Package and extra-fancy alloy wheels takes the as-delivered total to $70k
Consider worlds where Cayenne Turbo's cost $165k and Toyota Highlander Limiteds reach $53k before balking at the price of the LR4.
In a wishlist scenario, the LR4 would be $10k cheaper even as equipped.
There is real prestige and luxury-level engineering in evidence all over the LR4, though, to make it feel worth the cash.
Check out the colors and book a test drive over at landroverusa.com/
The LR4 Black Pack is a rare breed of machine in 2016. Even with its updated LEDs, cabin tech and street style... capability is still at the core of the Discovery premise.
This 2016 truck -- with its overkill double-chassis strength and anywhere/anytime 4x4 -- is anything but obsolete.
As the do-it-all evolution of the original Landie 130-inch, the LR4 in 2016 is actually the magnum opus of the green oval. This new powertrain certainly proves there is life left, and roads to be made, for years to come driving an LR4 HSE Lux.
This hero is not timeless, though. Mission creep -- as the devotees would crow -- is coming with a next-gen Discovery on the horizon as a 2018 model.
2016 Land Rover LR4 HSE Black Pack Review