2009 Land Rover LR2 Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
February 23, 2009

The 2009 Land Rover LR2 is a good option for those who like the legendary British marque’s styling but not its clumsy handling and extreme gas-guzzling.

TheCarConnection.com's SUV editors drove the new Land Rover LR2 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's SUV enthusiasts researched available road tests on the new Land Rover LR2 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other SUV reviews might differ.

The LR2 was a completely new vehicle for 2008, and carries into this year with just a few changes in appearance. Design cues, such as the front-fender vents, echo those of its bigger brothers, the LR3 and Range Rover Sport, but the 2009 Land Rover LR2 is more rakish, practical, and carlike.

The 3.2-liter inline-six powers the 2009 Land Rover LR2 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds; it's coupled to a smooth-shifting and responsive six-speed automatic transmission, with a manual mode and a sport mode for better response. It’s especially snappy and responsive for highway passing, while it also has enough low-end torque for modest off-road needs.

Unlike most of its competitors, the 2009 Land Rover LR2 does not include a four-wheel-drive low range—which many hard-core trail drivers will say is the true indicator of an off-road-capable vehicle. The LR2 does feature 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), which has a design that favors on-road performance but allows impressive ability for snow, mud, and rocky trails.

Review continues below

Both storage and passenger space are abundant in the 2009 Land Rover LR2. In back there's enough space for two adults or three children. Compared to other Land Rover models, the LR2's driving position is lower and more carlike. The steering isn't uncommunicative and heavy, but the 2009 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.

The list of safety features on the 2009 Land Rover LR2 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.

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 touch screen 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 2009 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.

A new HST exterior styling package is the big news for this year’s Land Rover LR2. The package includes a more aggressive mesh grille design, painted front and rear bumpers, side sill enhancements, and dual HST exhaust tips. The HST Package is also offered in a new exterior color, Martinique Blue. The 2009 Land Rover LR2 also gets new 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels or Shadow Chrome finished aluminum alloy wheels as a low-cost option, along with a range of material options for the interior and instrument panel.

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Styling

With clean lines and an upscale cabin, the 2009 Land Rover LR2 is stylistically in pace with the larger Range Rover.

TheCarConnection.com scans a wide range of reviewers’ comments and sees almost unanimously positive comments on the Land Rover LR2's appearance inside and out.

Launched last year, the Land Rover LR2 occupies the compact SUV spot in the Land Rover lineup formerly filled by the Freelander. The 2009 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.

Forbes Autos says "the more elfish LR2 maintains a commanding presence, due to the prominent contours of its roofline...it's not as squared off as the LR3 and not as restrained as the posh Range Rover, but it incorporates forms from both larger SUVs." AutoWeek states that the Land Rover LR2 "looks good in an upscale-y sort of way," while Cars.com notes that it "has the more traditional SUV look commonly found in larger models—and some cheaper ones like the Ford Escape," but is "definitely more distinctive and handsome than most SUVs."

Kelley Blue Book reports that “although softened a bit around its edges, the LR2's angular sheetmetal still displays numerous current-generation corporate cues, highlighted by front and rear lamp designs and functional side vents reminiscent of the Range Rover Sport, and a subtle LR3-style rear roofline kickup." The LR2 definitely shares family traits with the Range Rover family on the outside, notes a host of voices.

According to Consumer Guide, the Land Rover LR2's "cabin takes a cue from more expensive Range Rovers by offering high-quality wood and leather trim, solid-feeling plastics, and a blocky design imparting an upscale but sporty feel." There is plenty of praise for the interior from other sources as well: "The LR2's interior design is modern and appealing ... interior architecture mirrors the pricier LR3, with squared-off dashboard controls and a four-spoke steering wheel," says Cars.com. Edmunds concludes that the Land Rover 2009 LR2 "has an unmistakable Land Rover feel to it, which means plenty of leather and wood to go around."

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Performance

The 2009 Land Rover LR2 offers generally impressive—though not stellar—on-the-road performance with a bit more trail-driving ability than is typical in this class.

According to most reviewers, along with the editors of TheCarConnection.com, the inline six-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission give the 2009 Land Rover LR2 decent overall performance and better-than-expected handling, considering its tall, boxy body.

AutoWeek states that "power is only decent, not great," and Consumer Guide says the Land Rover 2009 LR2 "lacks solid midrange punch and struggles a bit up steep grades." Car and Driver reports that the Land Rover LR2's "transversely mounted [3.2-liter] six-cylinder makes 230 horsepower and 234 pound-feet of torque," providing "decent rather than startling performance"; off-roaders will note that "improvements allow it to operate on a greater incline without losing oil pressure." Nonetheless, Kelley Blue Book comes to the Land Rover LR2's defense, noting that "this compact, all-aluminum engine features a variable intake system, Cam Profile Switching (CPS) and Variable Valve Timing (VVT) that optimize its responsiveness...a solid and confident cruiser, with the muscle to run zero to 60 miles per hour in a claimed 8.4 seconds and the ability to pull a 4,400-pound trailer."

Car and Driver reports that the 2009 Land Rover LR2's engine transmits its power to the drivetrain through "a six-speed Aisin-Warner automatic transmission that has manumatic shifting.” Cars.com finds the Land Rover LR2's transmission to be "adequate, though there was occasional kickdown lag and gear hunting." Kelley Blue Book says that the 2009 Land Rover LR2's "six-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, quick shifts in either mode."

The 2009 Land Rover LR2 does not include a four-wheel-drive low range, as the toughest off-road vehicles do. Car and Driver notes the "permanent all-wheel drive works through a Haldex clutch pack that's mounted in front of the rear differential." This source adds, "there is no low range, but the vehicle is equipped with hill-descent control." The 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.

The EPA estimates mileage of the 2009 Land Rover LR2 at 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway with the six-speed automatic. Cars.com says this "is disappointing mainly because the LR2 is less powerful and pokier than the Acura and BMW," noting that "usually the payoff for lower performance is greater efficiency, not less."

Consumer Guide reports that the Land Rover LR2 has a "stable and well-planted on-road feel, though [the] tall body leans more than we like in fast turns, and the steering is a tad sloppy and slow." The editors of TheCarConnection.com note that the steering isn't that communicative and feels heavy, but the 2009 Land Rover LR2 maneuvers very easily in parking lots, tight city streets, and narrow country roads alike.

Edmunds reports that the "brakes are strong with a progressive pedal feel, but the suspension allows a bit too much front-end dive."

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Land Rover LR2 offers ample cabin and seating space but lacks much of a cargo area.

Compared to some of its peers, the 2009 Land Rover LR2 offers more room for passengers and less cargo space.

"Large folks might find it slightly cozy, but there's adult-size legroom and headroom on supportive, chair-height seats,” says Consumer Guide, adding that, as is often the case in such vehicles, the "LR2 isn't wide enough for three adults to sit comfortably in back. The LR2's driving position is lower and more carlike than that of Land Rover's other vehicles." Kelley Blue Book reports "adult-friendly seating space in the front and rear quarters," and Car and Driver acknowledges that the Land Rover LR2's "Inside, head- and legroom are class competitive." According to Cars.com, the "standard leather driver's seat was comfortable in terms of cushioning and an adjustable inboard armrest," and they note the Land Rover LR2 "has considerably more front and rear headroom than the Acura and BMW."

According to Cars.com the Land Rover’s "cabin storage is in limited supply" and the "door pockets are generous in size, but there's no covered center storage console in the SE, and the glove compartment isn't as large as its sizeable door suggests." Edmunds adds, "Cargo space behind the rear seats is a bit small at 27 cubic feet due to the LR2's high cargo floor. Maximum capacity is only 59 cubic feet, but the rear seats do fold completely flat."

The 2009 Land Rover LR2's materials are of a "quality that definitely sets it above more modestly priced compact SUVs," says Cars.com, which adds that "layout is ergonomic overall, but the slot that the transmitter fob must be slid into to start the car is hard to see, find and reach behind the steering wheel." Edmunds, on the other hand, is not as impressed with the Land Rover LR2's interior: "Materials are average in quality and the overall look isn't very elegant, and the busy instrument panel is a little hard to read at a glance."

Consumer Guide reports that this Land Rover’s engine "is a bit loud at full throttle but sounds nice and is unobtrusive otherwise. Wind rush is moderate at highway speeds and some tire thrum is noticed on grooved or coarse pavement." Overall, says Cars.com, "the cabin was otherwise admirably quiet."

AutoWeek notes that the Land Rover LR2 "does a great job soaking up potholes." Cars.com reports the Land Rover 2009's "ride quality is comfortable even on long hauls ... ride is firm, but it's softer than its sport-oriented German and Japanese competitors."

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Safety

Additional off-road specialty features add to the 2009 Land Rover LR2’s impressive list of safety gear.

Little information exists on the 2009 Land Rover outside the manufacturer’s safety specifications.

The 2009 Land Rover LR2 sports a list of safety features longer than that of 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.

Cars.com reports that "Ford's Roll Stability Control, which can detect impending rollovers and attempt to prevent them by applying individual brakes," as standard on the Land Rover LR2. It also mentions that the Land Rover LR2's "[safety] feature complement is impressive."

Drivers enjoy "fine outward visibility, though the thin heating wires embedded in the optional heated windshield take some getting used to,” says Consumer Guide.

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Features

The list of standard features on the 2009 Land Rover LR2 is twice as long as the one for available options.

Equipped with all the standard goodies, the 2009 Land Rover LR2 doesn't have much to add.

Edmunds notes that the Land Rover LR2's "standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Alpine stereo with a six-disc MP3/CD changer and auxiliary input jack, push-button ignition, automatic headlights and wipers, and rear parking sensors." Car and Driver reports an embarrassment of riches for this Land Rover 2009 model: "in keeping with the truck's newfound luxury status, power front seats, leather seating, and a sunroof are all standard, as are seven airbags."

Kelley Blue Book notes that "the list of LR2 factory extras is decidedly brief," adding that the Land Rover 2009 "Technology Package includes a DVD-based touch-screen satellite navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free integrated cell phone, a 12-speaker Alpine/Dolby Pro Logic II 7.1 Surround Sound audio system, rear-seat audio controls and SIRIUS Satellite Radio." The Land Rover LR2's "Lighting Package brings corner-following bi-xenon HID Adaptive Front Lighting, memory driver's seat and mirrors and approach and puddle lamps." There is also a 2009 Land Rover LR2 Cold Climate Package, which "adds heating to the front seats, windshield and windshield washers. Custom Narvik Black paint is available from the factory, while dealers offer 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 235/55 tires." Car and Driver reports that "items such as swiveling high-intensity headlamps and a DVD-based touch-screen navigation system are included in options packages.”

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8.0
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Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
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