The Land Rover LR2 is a descendant of the 2001 Freelander . Unfortunately, sales of the Freelander were crippled by quality problems and the Freelander went out of production in 2005. Like any good car manufacturer, Land Rover did not stop there and decided to start from scratch with a new entry-level vehicle. The all new LR2 is trying to make its way to the top with a stylish exterior and luxurious interior while keeping the price tag under $35k.
The LR2 has many design cues from its successful parents Range Rover and LR3. The front facia of the LR2 is very distinctive though. The front grill is surrounded by what could have been push bumpers if the LR2 was not meant to remain in captive city life.
From the side view of the LR2 you get the impression of a sporty SUV. The side sills really add a nice touch to the sport design. Land Rover went as far as to put new titanium finished door handles, similar to the very high end Range Rover. The door handles are large and bulky, but it goes really well with the design theme of the exterior of the car. Land Rover offers the LR2 with superb 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, as a standard. At the rear, you will quickly notice the rear spoiler. It is almost oversized for an SUV but it flows well with the LR2 design that flirts with the crossover concept. The sporty theme of the LR2 is enhanced by dual chrome tipped exhaust pipes. Overall, the exterior maintains the Land Rover rugged style while getting closer to the sporty BMW X3 and the luxurious Lexus RX . The wonderful thing about this new SUV is that it has a numerous standard features, which are typically found as options on other cars. It’s nice to finally get everything and a bit more for a great price.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior. The interior feels very spacious and is well lit, thanks to the very tall and straight up windshield shared by all Land Rovers. In fact, the light reflected especially well on the beautiful two tone tan and black interior of our test vehicle. The LR2 is all about giving this feeling of Camel Trophy while enjoying the finest British luxury. The seats for instance, are wrapped with soft tan leather and while they offer some of the most comfortable seating position we have felt so far, they also offer good support. The floor mats are made out of thick rubber. As if you would get in your LR2, with mud covered boots. Only the British can manufacture this sense of luxurious roughness.
Before moving onto the rest of the cabin, let me say (again) that the seating position is one of the best, if not the best in this market. You have to experience it for yourself, but let’s just say that it is rugged and cozy like nothing else.
Unfortunately, this sense of luxury did not extend to the steering wheel. It is made of cheap plastic and not leather wrapped. It just downright clashes with the otherwise luxurious interior. Even so, it has all the control buttons you would expect. The instrument cluster has three dials, which are surrounded by brushed aluminum. This gives it a more refined look. A green monochrome LCD screen sits at the bottom of the speedometer, to display the outside temperature, trip miles and occasional informational messages, such as the all terrain system settings.
The center console offers a color touch screen navigation. Unfortunately, Land Rover has still not integrated the audio system with the navigation system. So, the display for the audio settings is below the navigation screen. Thankfully, Land Rover made up for this by giving the audio system an optional alpine surround sound system. The surround system sounds good, but it has its limit when you push it to the max. To create the surround effect, this sound system adds a rather large speaker located in the center of the dashboard (right above the navigation screen).
For those of you that consider the LR2 as an off-roader, you will be pleased to know that Land Rover did not forget its root and equipped the LR2 with what they call a ‘Terrain response system’ knob. This knob elegantly replaces the old school levers for differential lock and short ratio gearbox (not present on the LR2). Simply turn the knob to indicate the surface you are driving on and the electronics will do all the work (mostly through stability control programs).
The LR2 is powered by a 3.2 liter inline 6 cylinder engine. This engine is upgraded for off-road use, to resist mud, dust, and water. The new transversely mounted engine makes 230 horsepower, and 234 lb feet of torque. This is a big improvement from the Freelander’s 174 horsepower, but the 4200 lbs LR2 will not take off at a green light. Matted to a six-speed automatic transmission, the LR2 can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 8.4 seconds. That is almost 2 seconds faster than the Freelander. Underneath the chassis, the LR2 has a fully independent suspension with large disc brakes on all four corners. Compared to the faster BMW X3, the LR2 offers a softer and more comfortable ride.
The driving experience in the LR2 is closer to a SUV than a crossover. The seating position is very high up, in front of the tall and straight up windshield, giving a nice feeling of openness. In comparison with slanted nose crossovers (e.g. Mazda CX9), you can see the rugged LR2 hood in the typical Land Rover way. You feel like you are driving something with character, something strong and rugged. The suspension does a good job at absorbing bumps and potholes, but don’t expect the same level of comfort as in crossovers, such as the Lexus RX350. The LR2 offers a ride somewhere in between the plush Lexus and the sporty BMW X3 , for a much better price mind you. The lightness of the brake and steering wheel contribute to a very easy feel. The engine will not push like a big V8, but it builds up speed smoothly and its temperament matches very well the LR2 style. This is certainly the car we enjoyed the most while cruising at legal speeds. It is so pleasant you simply enjoy the surroundings without any temptations. Unfortunately, we did not take our LR2 off-roading. Even so, we were still pleased with the LR2’s performance on milder trails and refined roadways.
The car will appeal to people looking for a distinctive vehicle with off-road styling and luxurious interior. The LR2 is a great representation of Land Rover expertise in ‘all terrain luxury vehicle’. On the down side, the ride could be smoother and the engine more powerful. Considering that the sticker price starts at $34,000, you will have all reason to smile while driving your brand new LR2.
Go test drive an LR2 before you purchase your next crossover. You might very well fall in love with LR2 and will not need to continue looking elsewhere.
19 inch wheels standard
Plastic steering wheel
Radio not integrated with Nav. screen
Engine could use more power