- Revamped interior works much better than before
- A nimble Land Rover?
- Back-seat space is good
- Responsive turbo four
- Towing and ground clearance still strong points
- Missing some of the latest safety options
- Off-roading not a priority
- Rear visibility isn't great
- If you don't like square shoulders...
The 2015 LR2 is one of the more traditional options among smaller SUVs, combining some off-road ability with a comfortable interior and classic looks.
The 2015 model year will be the Land Rover's LR2 final romp. The small utility vehicle is being replaced by the Range Rover Evoque, which shares basic underpinnings, and the forthcoming Discovery Sport. The LR2 soldiers on with solid towing capability, good ground clearance, and all-wheel drive.
Like its Evoque sibling, the LR2 is more at home on the streets than its badging might suggest, which should be okay with the vast majority of customers, even if they don't like to admit it. That doesn't mean that you won't find it dancing through dirt roads from time to time–or even some moderately difficult off-road trails–but it's more likely that you'll find it resting in a compact parking spot at the local grocery store.
In balance, the LR2 sits more with the German luxury crossovers--the Audi Q5, the Mercedes GLK--than it does with Japanese hardware like the Acura RDX. It feels more substantial, and sits more upright. It provides more back-seat space than the Japanese crossovers, and its cargo space is above the mean for the class, but there's no third-row seat--that's the province of the bigger LR4. Recent updates also helped improve the LR2's fuel economy, though it's still not quite class-leading, and lags behind that of its Evoque counterpart.
Despite its more traditional role in the Land Rover family, the LR2 embodies the same upscale heritage. It's not nearly as quick as the latest BMW X3 nor as efficient, and it's probably just as off-road-capable as the Benz GLK, not more so. But like those two utes and above all the other contenders, there's some real upper crust in the LR2's folded fenders and in its green-and-silver badge.
The LR2 is sold in just one drivetrain configuration in the U.S. The former in-line six-cylinder was sent packing in favor of the same 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four found in the Evoque. It's less smooth, but way more entertaining--the flat, steady progress gives way to peaky power channeled well through a six-speed automatic. (The Evoque gets a nine-speed that helps smooth the engine's rough edges, also aiding fuel economy immensely.) Getting to 60 mph is slightly less arduous, but it's nearly as quiet, since the engine brings some new underbody structure with it--a notable upgrade from the Evoque. The LR2 doesn't get other running-gear changes, but the lighter engine lifts weight from the steering. The ride and handling are pleasant and comfortable, even a little frisky when pressed into corners, with more sensation in its steering than its brawnier cousins.
There's no hardcore, off-road-ready two-speed transfer case, but the rugged-looking LR2 lives up to a lot of the macho promise baked into its crisply folded sheetmetal. While the Range Rover lineup of utes veers off into a styling ether all its own, the LR2 stands by the formal design and all-out SUV cues of the past. In its niche, it's a good thing: the LR2 still reads "sport-ute," something that can be said of the Mercedes GLK, but not nearly as much of the competition from Audi, BMW, or Cadillac. It's a rugged-looking shape, but one that benefits from a more carlike cockpit, a big LCD touchscreen, and soft-touch materials.
Trail riders won't admire the lack of a true low range, but the LR2's traction systems are quite sophisticated, and let casual off-pavement drivers choose the right traction mode for the conditions at hand. In our experience, it's more than sufficient for the way these utes are used, anyway.
Changes for 2015 are limited to a few option packages. The Black Pack and Silver Pack are aesthetic value groupings that also include navigation; Black Pack models get black 19-inch wheels and black interior trim, while the Silver Pack versions get the Exterior Design Package and their own silver 19-inchers. There's also new packaging for the standalone 825-watt Meridian sound system—it comes bundled with HD Radio and Sirius Satellite capability.