2009 Land Rover LR2 Review – Rugged adventure meets the small luxury SUV

Friday March 13th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: AKramer

By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • True all-conditions capability
  • Gutsy engine has good low-end torque
  • Smooth, controlled ride
  • Well-appointed interior
  • Fantastic Alpine stereo system

Cons:

  • Could use a few more ponies under the hood
  • Gas gauge never more than half full
  • Smallish interior, especially in the back
  • Pricey, especially for its size

Introduction

2009 Land Rover LR2

Land Rover was founded sixty years ago with the simple goal of creating a vehicle that could tackle any terrain. The original Land Rover was designed to be a utilitarian agricultural vehicle and featured a Rover petrol engine, light-weight aluminum chassis and permanent four wheel drive. This unique car quickly became the go-to vehicle for expeditions of exploration throughout the world, establishing a reputation for ruggedness and adventure that remains today.

Since then the brand has become decidedly more upscale, but the original idea of building cars with true off-road capabilities remains. Targeting the increased interest in luxury compact SUVs, Land Rover introduced the LR2 in 2008. Competition in this segment is fierce, but most of the other players don’t even pretend to be true off-road vehicles, making the LR2 a unique entry in the automotive landscape.

Driving Impressions

Hop into the LR2 and you instantly realize this is not just another small cute ute. The LR2 sits a bit higher off the ground than others in this class and invokes a sense of solidity and off-road capability that most compact SUVs simply can’t match. Although the LR2 is definitely the small kid in the family, the seat of the pants feel is 100% Land Rover.

The LR2 could never live up to its nameplate if it didn’t perform well in adverse conditions. Luckily the first really nasty storm of the season showed up right as we received the car, making for some excellent test conditions. Although time and circumstances didn’t allow for any true off-road excursions or much snow driving, we spent multiple hours driving in the rain on flooded back roads and saturated freeways, and the LR2 never showed any signs of stress. We parked the LR2 in a mud hole that left lesser cars stuck, but all it took was a gentle tap on the gas and we were back on the road.

2009 Land Rover LR2 - Patented Terrain Response System

At the heart of the LR2’s all-conditions capability is Land Rover’s permanent intelligent all-wheel drive, which uses a Haldex electronically controlled differential to continuously adjust front-to-rear torque as needed. Additionally, there are a host of electronic control systems, including electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, cornering brake control, roll stability control, hill descent control, and dynamic stability control. And to top it off, there is a terrain response system that allows the driver to select from the following four settings to maximize traction and control: General (for normal driving conditions), Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. Although we didn’t have near enough time to put all these systems to the test (and we doubt most drivers ever will), it is safe to say that the LR2 is more than capable of handling whatever is in its path.

Performance

The LR2 comes standard with a 3.2 Liter inline 6 cylinder engine that produces 230 hp and 234 lb-ft torque. This gutsy engine has plenty of grunt, especially at low rpm’s, but starts to feel winded as the tachometer climbs. The LR2 is no lightweight at 4250 lbs. and the full-time all-wheel drive system robs a bit of power, which a roughly 9 second 0-60 time confirms. A few more ponies under the hood wouldn’t hurt, but for most driving situations the engine is more than adequate.

2009 Land Rover LR2 - Aisin-Warner 6-speed AT w/Command Shift

Taking care of shifting duties is an Aisin-Warner 6 speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with CommandShift manual control and sport mode. Like the engine, this transmission does its job with little fuss. Although the sport mode didn’t seem to make much of a difference over the normal setting, the manual shift option proved handy for controlling speed when driving up and down slippery steep roads.

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