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Study In Contrasts: 2011 Range Rover And Land Rover LR4

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on March 1, 2011 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Land Rover

We weren't surprised when Land Rover chose Telluride, Colorado, as the location to introduce the 2011 Range Rover and LR4 to the media. After all, Telluride is an affluent mountain town located 8,750 feet above sea level, where luxury SUVs are a standard part of the lofty landscape. Our accommodations were 795 feet above Telluride in Mountain Village, where well-heeled residents tip their glasses in luxury homes and condos as they gaze over the majestic San Juan Mountains.

Land Rover had other ideas for us, though. You see, Telluride is a fascinating study in contrasts and it's surrounded by some of the best wheeling trails in the continental United States. Black Bear Road, Imogene Pass, and Ophir Pass are some of the incredible trails in the immediate area, and that's why Land Rover brought us there. Over two days we spent very little time on the paved road, or in the solvency of Telluride. Instead, we wheeled Land Rover's newest SUVs over high mountain trails, and we never descended below 7,800 feet in altitude.

Range Rover
On day one, we wheeled Land Rover's flagship SUV from Telluride through the abandoned old mining town of Tomboy in Savage Basin (elevation 11,500 feet). We then continued over Imogene Pass (elevation 13,114 feet), eventually arriving to spend the night in the town of Ouray (elevation 7,811 feet). We began the drive as a passenger which was a good way to start because it gave us an opportunity to inspect the interior, which was loaded with a truly mind-boggling number of luxo standard features including a wood-trimmed dash fascia and doors, as well as heated leather seating for front and rear passengers. As we lounged in the rear seat (which is now available with a reclining feature for 2011), we had to admit that the interior of the Range Rover is truly a thing of beauty and it's clearly designed to impress even the most discriminating owner. We were also impressed at the vault-like solidness of the Range Rover as we traveled over the trail. No rattles, squeaks, or suspension noises from this machine.

As we watched the Range Rover in our rear-view mirror we came to the conclusion that even though the exterior styling is sophisticated, it still looks at home on the trail.

Speaking of the suspension, it's comprised of an IFS/IRS arrangement with electronic air adjustment. It has automatic load leveling, and multiple modes including; access, standard, off-road, and extended height. The off-road mode contributes to an impressive 11.1 inches of ground clearance. At the old town of Tomboy, we took the wheel and pointed the Range Rover toward Imogene Pass. The first thing we noticed is that the solid feel we experienced in the seat of our pants while riding in the back seat carried over into our hands as we grasped the leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel that is festooned with multi-function controls. Even while climbing loose shale, the Range Rover's solidness is obvious. And speaking of climbing, the Range Rover's Terrain Response system is enhanced for 2011 and includes Gradient Acceleration Control and Hill Start Assist. Quite simply, we just selected the appropriate terrain setting and let the computer work its magic. It was that simple, and it translated to amazing surefootedness. Also notable from the driver chair is the Range Rovers incredible 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) virtual instrument panel. We've been known to roll our eyes at tech like this, but wow, it's amazingly bright, colorful, and loaded with features. Finally, even as we climbed through 13,000 feet in elevation, the Range Rover's 5.0L V-8 engine, which makes 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, provided enough punch to carry the 5,697-pound rig and its passengers without a problem, and the six-speed CommandShift transmission functioned seamlessly with the V-8.

Real wood, lots of leather, and a large TFT instrument panel are just some of the highlights of the Range Rover's interior.

LR4
On day two, we pointed the LR4 out of Ouray and onto the dirt, where we explored the Mineral Creek Trail with a stop at the old San Juan Chief Mill. After lunch in Silverton, we traveled over the fabled Black Bear Road (elevation: 12,840 feet). The first thing we noticed about the LR4 as we sat in the driver's seat was the truly impressive visibility. A commanding driving position and tall glass all the way around make you feel like you're part of the scenery instead of simply a spectator. Combined with the thin, unobtrusive A-pillars and the three large sunroofs, the interior of the LR4 is bright and feels airy. It makes a darn good first impression.

The LR4 was more surefooted than us as it descended Black Bear on the rocky shelf trail. Chalk it up in part to traction control and Hill Descent Control.

One thing that was obvious is that the LR4 has quite a lot of Range Rover DNA. It's a totally different vehicle, mind you, but the interior materials and textures are very similar. It has a luxury vibe and an array of bells and whistles. Under the hood is the same 5.0L V-8 as the Range Rover. It's mated to the CommandShift six-speed transmission. The 5,833-pound LR4 is 136 pounds heavier than the Range Rover, but Land Rover performance figures show it as only being slightly behind the Range Rover in 0-60 mph acceleration. The LR4 also sports the Terrain Response system as well as other electronics. As we made our way up the trail, we were impressed at the almost transparent operation of the Terrain Response system. On a particularly rocky, off-camber section of the Mineral Creek trail, it responded to our throttle inputs in a most refined fashion and carried us over the obstacle with no drama.

The LR4's interior is handsome, and the instrument cluster has a 5-inch TFT driver information LCD screen.

Speaking of off-camber, the LR4 uses an electronic air IFS/IRS suspension that features what Land Rover calls "cross-link valving" on both the front and rear of the vehicle (the Range Rover also uses this system). Quite simply, this means that if one side of the suspension on either axle is compressed, air is forced to the opposite side to force it down, thus mimicking the action of a solid axle. This suspension gives the LR4 an impressive front travel of 10 inches and rear travel of 13 inches. As we descended Black Bear into Telluride to conclude our tour, we found the LR4 to be a worthy companion. Once again, we found the LR4's overall visibility to be an asset as we negotiated the mega-tight switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls, where one goof can mean a nasty tumble down the side of the mountain.

Thanks to the LR4's fantastic visibility, we had virtually unobstructed views of Telluride as we descended Black Bear.

Bottom Line
What we learned is that like Telluride, both the Range Rover and LR4 are also a study in contrasts. Ultimately, they're as much at home on the trail as they are in valet parking.

Some of What's New for 2011
Range Rover

  • Revised exterior design
  • Improved interior equipment levels
  • Optional reclining rear seats
  • Optional laminated privacy glass
  • Vision Assist Package
  • Terrain Response enhancements including Gradient Acceleration Control and Hill Start Assist

The Range Rover has a maximum wading depth of 27.5 inches, so we weren't worried about crossing any of the waterways on the Imogene Pass trail.

LR4

  • Bluetooth now standard on base LR4
  • Rear view camera is standard on HSE
  • Vision Assist Package for HSE and HSE LUX Packages
  • Climate Comfort Package is a stand-alone option on LR4 base and HSE
  • Terrain Response enhancements including Gradient Acceleration Control and Hill Start Assist

Quick Specs
2011 Land Rover Range Rover HSE
Base price: $79,685
Engine: 5.0L V-8
Max hp/torque (lb-ft): 375/375
Transmission(s): CommandShift 6-spd auto
Transfer case(s): Electronic shift 2-spd
Low-range ratio: 2.93:1
Frame type: Monocoque integrated body/chassis with three steel subframes
Suspension, f/r: MacPherson struts with lower control arms, long-travel variable-rate computer-controlled air springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, 7.6 inches of travel/double wishbone with long-travel variable-rate computer-controlled air springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, 11.5 inches of travel Max crawl ratio: 43.3:1
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r (in): 14.1, vented/13.9, vented
Wheels (tested): 19x8 alloy
Tires (tested): 255/55R19
Wheelbase (in): 113.3
Length (in): 195.8
Height (in): 73.9
Base curb weight (lb): 5,697
Max approach/departure angles (deg): 34/26.6
Minimum ground clearance (in): 9.1 (standard mode), 11.1 (off-road mode)
GVWR (lb): 7,055
Max cargo volume (cu. ft.): 74.2
Max towing capacity (lb): 7,716
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg):12/18
Fuel capacity (gal): 27.6

The 5.0L V-8 found in the LR4 (pictured) and the Range Rover has direct injection and torque-activated variable camshaft timing. All belt drives are waterproofed, as are the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, and starter motor.

2011 Land Rover LR4
Base price: $48,500
Engine: 5.0L V-8
Max hp/torque (lb-ft): 375/375
Transmission(s): CommandShift 6-spd auto
Transfer case(s): Electronic shift 2-spd
Low-range ratio: 2.93:1
Frame type: Integrated body/frame with hydroformed members
Suspension, f/r: Double wishbone, long-travel variable-rate computer-controlled air springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, 10 inches of travel/double wishbone with long-travel variable-rate computer-controlled air springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, 13 inches of wheel travel
Max crawl ratio: 43.3:1
Steering: Speed sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r (in): 14.2, vented/13.8, vented
Wheels (tested, in): 19x8
Tires (tested): P255/55R19
Wheelbase (in): 113.6
Length (in): 190.1
Height (in): 74.1
Base curb weight (lb): 5,833
Max approach/departure angles (deg): 37.2/29.6 (off-road mode)
Minimum ground clearance (in): 9.4 (off-road mode)
GVWR (lb): 7,158
Max cargo volume (cu. ft.): 90.3
Max towing capacity (lb): 7,143
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg):12/17
Fuel capacity (gal): 22.8

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