New & Used Land Rover LR2: In Depth
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The Land Rover LR2 is a compact to mid-size crossover SUV, one of the two smallest vehicles in Land Rover's lineup alongside the more stylish Range Rover Evoque. The LR2 seats five and comes with standard all-wheel drive. It was last updated for the 2013 model year and is likely to be phased out after the Land Rover Discovery Sport arrives for 2016.
LR2s offer a good amount of off-road capability and solid road manners. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, BMW X3, Audi Q5, and the Volvo XC60. The similar Range Rover Evoque can also be considered along with the LR2, although it is a bit more expensive and upscale.
The LR2 replaced the Freelander in the U.S. for the 2008 model year, with a more grown-up feel and better alignment with the Land Rover lineup. It was one of the first models to be separated from the more upscale Range Rover line once the Range Rover Sport was added. The LR2 initially shared its single powertrain offering with the Volvo S80 sedan, coming on line just as Ford's ownership of the two brands was drawing to a close.
MORE: Read our 2014 Land Rover LR2 review
From the 2008 model year through 2012, the LR2 came with a 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine that launched it to 60 mph in about 8.4 seconds, within the range of other compact luxo-utes. The engine came coupled to a six-speed automatic with clean, effortless gear shifts, and it offered a manual-shift and a sport-shift mode. The LR2's Haldex all-wheel-drive system moves power around to all four corners, but it lacks the low-range transfer case of the rest of its big brother LR4. The LR2 does have more than 8 inches of ground clearance, though.
The steering wasn't quick or particularly communicative on earlier models, but the Land Rover LR2 maneuvered very easily in parking lots, tight city streets, and narrow country roads alike, and it cornered with little of the lean or drama of larger, heftier, and more trucklike . It also has had a balanced ride quality. The interior has enough room for adults--just enough in the back seat--and enough cargo room for a few roll-aboard suitcases.
Having undergone only minor changes in its first five years on the market, the LR2 received a mid-cycle makeover for the 2013 model year. It still sports the crisp lines that distinguish it from the softer Audi, Volvo and BMW utes, and it's easily recognizable as a part of the Land Rover heritage on a smaller scale. What's different at first glance isn't obvious outside--new headlamps and reframed grille--but a new interior drastically reduces the clutter inside the LR2, cutting down on the jumble of buttons that marked the earlier models. A new touchscreen and new gauges offer clearer displays, and Meridian sound is now the standard audio setup.
Although similar looking on the outside, today's LR2 offers different mechanicals compared to the original model. The inline-six engine has been replaced by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 240 hp; the same engine is found in the related Range Rover Evoque. This new engine is lighter than the one it replaces and also more powerful, while offering improved torque at low revs. The engine cradle has also been reengineered to reduce noise and vibration compared to the Evoque. The changes help the LR2 to accelerate quicker and steer more crisply as well.
Crash-test scores aren't available for the LR2. It offers side curtain airbags and stability control with anti-roll software built in; a rearview camera is now standard, and useful, since the thick rear pillars make visibility more of a problem than in larger Land Rovers that seat the driver higher.
The LR2 is carried over into the 2015 model year essentially unchanged. It is not likely to return for 2016, as it is being indirectly replaced by a new Land Rover model.
The LR2's successor comes in the form of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which was introduced at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. The new Discovery Sport rides on the same LR-MS platform underpinning the Range Rover Evoque, which itself was derived from the LR2's platform. The Discovery Sport will offer three rows of seating instead of the LR2's two, opening up its appeal to those who can't fit their families in an Evoque. Production will take place at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood plant in the U.K., the same site responsible for building the Range Rover Evoque.