- Small-car agility, almost
- Enough off-road ability for weekend camping
- Plenty of passenger space throughout
- City mileage (16 mpg) should be better
- Rearward visibility can be obscured
The 2008 Land Rover LR2 splices the ruggedly stylish look that draws people to the legendary British brand with honest practicality, without the gas-guzzling and clumsy handling.
The 2008 Land Rover LR2 is an all-new compact SUV model, occupying the space in the Land Rover lineup formerly filled by the Freelander. The 2008 Land Rover LR2 SE was launched early in the model year, with the upmarket HSE version joining in later.
A 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine gives the 2008 Land Rover LR2 very respectable acceleration; it can reach 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, according to Land Rover. It's coupled to a smooth-shifting and responsive six-speed automatic transmission, with a manual mode and a sport mode for better response. The powertrain is especially snappy and responsive for highway passing, while it also has enough low-end torque for most off-road needs.
A full-time four-wheel-drive system with a Haldex center differential and Gradient Release Control (as well as standard Terrain Response system on all but base models) form the basis of the LR2's off-road credentials--its design favors on-road performance but allows impressive ability for snow, mud, and rocky trails. However, the system in the 2008 Land Rover LR2 does not include a four-wheel-drive low range, as the toughest off-road vehicles do.
The 2008 Land Rover LR2 has design cues--such as the front-fender vents--that echo those of its bigger brothers, the LR3 and Range Rover Sport, but it's a little bit more rakish, practical, and carlike. Both storage and passenger space are abundant; in back, there's enough space for two adults or three children.
The LR2's driving position is lower and more carlike than that of Land Rover's other vehicles. The steering isn't that communicative and feels heavy, but the 2008 Land Rover LR2 maneuvers very easily in parking lots, tight city streets, and narrow country roads alike and corners with little of the lean or drama of larger, heftier, and more trucklike SUVs. Rearward visibility is obscured by the thick back pillar, however.
Features and options on both the SE and HSE models include bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing wipers, and park distance control (front and rear). A two-part panoramic sunroof is also available, and air conditioning is standard on all models. Options include a touchscreen DVD satellite navigation system, and a choice of top-level audio systems includes DAB digital radio and 12-speaker Dolby Pro Logic IIx Surround Sound with fiber-optic interconnects. Separating the 2008 Land Rover LR2 HSE from the base model is a range of cosmetic upgrades, such as body-color bumpers and side sills; a rear spoiler; titanium door handles; and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
The 2008 Land Rover LR2 has not yet been crash-tested, but its list of safety features is longer than most SUVs'. It includes front side-thorax airbags, side curtain bags, and a driver's knee airbag, along with electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and a host of other off-road-focused electronic aids that may help.