Unlike most trucks or other purpose-built off-road vehicles, the LR2 is perfectly behaved both on-road and off. The suspension is nicely balanced and provides a smooth, yet controlled ride over a variety of road surfaces. There is some lean when cornering, due mostly to the LR2’s more upright design, but the steering response is quite good and the brakes are solid. While the LR2 never fools you into thinking you’re in a sports car, or even a more sporty SUV, the wide 19 inch Continental tires, combined with the capable all-wheel drive system, provide a healthy dose of grip, especially in the wet.
It’s rare these days for a luxury car not to be well built, and the LR2 is no exception. Materials are top-notch and the doors close with a nice “thunk”. The only thing to give us concern about long-term reliability is a gas gauge that never wanted to be full. Despite multiple attempts to fill up the tank, the gauge stubbornly remained slightly under half-full. Maybe this is simply some British quirkyness to keep us Yanks entertained, but it is a little out of place for a car that costs over 40 grand. On the safety front, the LR2 has you covered with a seven airbag supplemental restraint system, side-door impact beams, front crumple zones, and a collapsible steering column.
The LR2 comes standard with a nicely appointed interior, including leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and power front seats. Our test model also featured the technology package, which adds a touch screen navigation system, Alpine surround sound system, Bluetooth® telephone connectivity, and the cold climate package, which include heated front seats, a heated front windshield, and heated windshield-washer jets. The touch screen navigation system is easy to use, but the screen is rather small and is positioned in a way that makes it vulnerable to glare from the sun. The main reason to order the technology package is the fantastic Alpine sound system, which turns plain old stereo CDs into a convincing wraparound soundfield that truly envelopes the listener.
Although the LR2 is purposely designed to be smaller and more nimble than its larger siblings, interior room suffers quite a bit and left us wondering if Land Rover couldn’t have made the LR2 just a bit bigger. Front seat occupants have a decent amount of room, but move to the back and leg room is quite cramped, and the trunk is on the small side even for a small SUV. Land Rover did use a clever trick to make the interior feel more spacious than it actually is. Look up and you see not one, but two sunroofs, spaced so that both front and rear passengers can enjoy the view. Although only the forward of the two retracts to allow air inside, both are made from glass and allow plenty of light to enter the cabin, and both feature a retractable shade for when you want to keep the sun out.
Our tester came dressed in a striking Baltic Blue coat of paint which reflects vividly in the sun. The LR2’s exterior style borrows a bit from it’s blocky big brother, the LR3, although the front and rear have been softened up and the overall design is equal parts suburb cute and backcountry aggressive. It’s not an unattractive package, but we could do without the chintzy fake side vents and unnecessary dual exhaust pipes. The optional 19” wheels are also a bit large for a car this size and give the LR2 too much of a lifted appearance.
Land Rover has created a solid little luxury sport ute with the LR2. The only question that remains in our minds is who would buy one. Given that Land Rover only sold approximately 5,000 LR2s last year (compared to over 15,000 for both the Acura RDX and BMW X3), the LR2 is obviously having a problem finding its niche. With a base price of $36,225 (our loaded tester comes in at over $42,000) the LR2 isn’t exactly cheap, although you do get a lot for what you pay for. Fuel efficiency is less than great (we averaged 19.5 mpg) and the lack of interior space hurts practicality. Plus, buyers looking for a compact luxury SUV can find compelling choices from half a dozen manufacturers, most of which provide more performance and style than the LR2. About the only thing that sets the LR2 apart is its off-road capability, but this won’t be as much of a factor for the large percentage of buyers who live in urban areas and are looking for something stylish for the daily commute. Still, the LR2 is a Land Rover and for some the reputation that comes with that name will be reason enough.
|The official website of Land Rover – www.landrover.com|
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