2011 Land Rover LR2 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
February 14, 2011

The 2011 Land Rover LR2 has the hallmarks of SUV styling, with a much more street-friendly driving feel than other big Rover utes.

It's fair to say Land Rover's place at the luxury table is derived from a single vehicle: the Range Rover. Not every dining experience is a five-star affair, though, and the Range Rover's somewhat ethereal positioning and pricing leave plenty of room below for good peasant fare.

That's the more common place where the 2011 Land Rover LR2 plugs away, happily. It's more of a crossover with off-road add-ons, minus the hardcore two-speed transfer case. If we're really nitpicking, it's actually a butched-up Volvo XC60 with a smidge less room, but that's more a compliment than anything--since both the LR2 and the XC60 are great about-town utes with very distinct personalities, fraternal twins, one feminine, one masculine.

The LR2's six-cylinder engine is an unusual in-line unit, and it's a smooth creation, if not a terribly powerful one. In tandem with a six-speed automatic, it'll dart to 60 mph in about eight and a half seconds, off the pace of the latest X3 or the front-drive Acura RDX but amply quick for almost every quotidian task. It's also comfortable and even a little nimble when pressed.

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Trail riders won't like the lack of a true low range, but the LR2's sophistication traction systems let everyone else choose a driving mode for the conditions at hand--and that's more than enough for the way these trucks are used, anyway.

In balance, the LR2 sits more with the German luxury crossovers--the Q5, the GLK--than it does with whizzy Japanese machines like the RDX and the CX-7. It feels more substantial, sits more upright, and drinks a lot more gas, one of its more serious downfalls.

It also fairly reeks of heritage. It's not nearly as quick as the latest BMW X3 nor as efficient, and it's probably only as off-road-capable than the Benz GLK. 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.

8

2011 Land Rover LR2

Styling

It's smaller-scale luxury, but the 2011 Land Rover LR2 echoes the best styling traits of the larger Range Rover.

With only minor touch-ups to its grille and interior for 2011, the Land Rover LR2 soldiers on as the brand's entry-level vehicle--albeit, one that looks every bit the true off-roader.

It's determinedly angular from all corners, and that makes the LR2 a standout in the sea of less capable crossovers like the Volvo XC60 that shares some of its running gear. Those big squared headlamps, front fender vents, and lots of crisp lines evoke Land Rovers from the past and present in an instant. The urban-sized body carries the folded, pressed theme better than some other luxury utes--the Mercedes-Benz GLK isn't quite as visually successful with the same idea--and the LR2 looks practical and rakish at the same time. The new grille has a pair of bars and some interesting texturing; base models wear black bumpers, while HSE versions have body-color guars and a rear spoiler.

The LR2's cabin is a dead ringer for those in older Range Rovers--but it's less convincing, missing most of the lavish wood trim and elegant chrome touches of the new interiors of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. A small strip of wood on the dash livens it up a bit. The dash sits lower than it might in an off-road vehicle, but the vertical motif that's worked its way into every Land Rover over the past decade gives this interior some lift, in the upright door pulls and the ribs that define the driver and passenger areas. New instruments are fitted for 2011.

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2011 Land Rover LR2

Performance

The 2010 Land Rover LR2 drives more civilly than any small Land Rover before it-which brings it up to mid-pack-and there's a good measure of off-road ability still built in its chassis.

The sole powertrain that comes with every LR2 gives it brisk if not truly quick acceleration, but fuel economy lags.

The 2011 LR2 carries the same 3.2-liter in-line six found in the Volvo XC60, a relationship that dates back to a few years ago, when the companies both were owned by Ford. The distinctive six ushers the LR2 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, and it's a smooth piece as most in-line sixes tend to be. The transmission is a responsive, quick-shifting six-speed automatic with a manual-shift mode and a sport mode baked in for more enthusiastic driving. All paired up, the drivetrain may not feel very fast off the line, it's plenty responsive at highway speeds and in passing. The throttle's a bit touchy but the engine also has a fair amount of low-end torque, too, which puts it in good stead for off-roading with bigger, dirt-loving Rovers.

The LR2 does not have the ultimate off-road capability, though. There's no low range for its all-wheel-drive system--and to hardcore off-roaders, that's a heretical move. The LR2 clearly is biased toward street driving and comfort, but Land Rover has adapted its driveline with electronic controls to give it more trail-riding bona fides. The Haldex all-wheel-drive system gets Terrain Response and Gradient Release controls, which can be dialed through a set of pre-programmed modes to cruise through snow, sand, rocks or pavement. And while it's probably not prepared to run the Paris-Dakar Rally, the LR2 can ford through nearly 20 inches of water and it has 8.3 inches of ground clearance, with approach and departure angles of 29 and 32 degrees, respectively.

On the road, the LR2 feels at home turning easily into parking spaces, tight city streets, and narrow country roads alike. The steering isn't quick or particularly communicative, but it corners without the heavy body roll of larger, heftier, and more trucklike SUVs. It rides quite comfortably, too--the bias toward on-road driving means it doesn't need a costly air suspension to keep jounces and bounces to a minimum.

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2011 Land Rover LR2

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Land Rover LR2 can seat four adults and can swallow lots of luggage, but small-item storage is lacking.

With its ample interior room, the 2011 LR2 is a "small" Land Rover more in concept than in reality.

The front seats are best for adults, with enough room for comfort in all directions. The seats themselves are without much side-to-side support, and the dash cuts down on knee room just a bit. The cushioning feels fine, though, and even with the available sunroof, tall drivers shouldn't have a problem finding head room.

It's much the same in the back seat, where there's abundant space for three kids, or even small adults, to go for a long ride. It's cozy for large adults, but it's far better than the back seats in some competitors like the Acura RDX. The seats themselves sit relatively high, and have good bolstering.

There's no third-row seat--the Land Rover LR4 owns that niche. So instead, behind the LR2's second row, there's enough space for a long weekend's worth of luggage. With the rear seat in use, the LR2 has 27 cubic feet of storage space; when that seat's folded flat, it makes 59 cubic feet of cargo room available. In raw numbers it's average, but the space is tall and useful. For comparison, it can hold more behind the seat than the Mercedes-Benz GLK (23.3 cubic feet), but it's a few cubes short of the component-sharing Volvo XC60's 30.8 cubic feet.

Storage is a bit lean in the cabin, too. Two cupholders in the center console sit a little too far back to fall to hand; the glove box is kind of small. Happily, most of the cabin is covered in good-quality materials, and the in-line six-cylinder is smooth and quiet.

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2011 Land Rover LR2

Safety

Though it hasn't been crash-tested, the 2011 Land Rover LR2 has some advanced standard safety features.

It's a fairly safe bet, but for now the real-world crash-test performance of the 2011 Land Rover LR2 still isn't known.

Neither the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) nor the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has tested the LR2 for crash safety.

However, the LR2 has a wide array of standard safety equipment. Those features include dual front, side, curtain, and driver-knee airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control with rollover protection; and a host of electronic programming that makes its all-wheel-drive system easier to use. 

The LR2 also comes with standard rear parking sensors, but it lacks the latest tech-savvy options like a rearview camera, blind-spot warning and lane-departure systems.

Visibility is mostly good from the driver's seat. The driving position is somewhat low, compared to other Land Rover vehicles, and wide rear roof pillars can block some of the view. This year, the LR2 has larger side mirrors to help drivers stay on the lookout for potential trouble.

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2011 Land Rover LR2

Features

Upscale standard features give the 2011 Land Rover LR2 a proper luxury footing, while its options list hooks up audiophiles with high-end sound options.

You won't feel left behind or un-coddled inside the 2011 Land Rover LR2, which has many of the luxury features you'd be able to order in the bigger, more expensive Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Every LR2 has adaptive headlamps as standard equipment. Each also includes xenon headlights; power windows, locks and mirrors; automatic climate control; leather upholstery; and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary port.

The options list can send the LR2's price soaring, but it has some worthwhile choices. The panoramic sunroof doesn't rob too much head room; Land Rover's DVD navigation system displays on a large screen and is a bit more intuitive than the one from its Jaguar kin. There are also choices of satellite and HD Radio; a CD changer; Dolby surround sound; Bluetooth; heated mirrors; a heated windshield; a garage door opener; and 19-inch wheels.

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2011 Land Rover LR2

Fuel Economy

The 2011 Land Rover LR2 is at the back of its pack for gas mileage.

Fuel economy isn't the strong suit of most sport-utility vehicles, but it's particularly at issue with the latest batch of European luxury crossover utes.

The 2011 Land Rover LR2 is typical for the bunch, that also includes the Q5 and GLK. It's rated by the EPA at 15/22 mpg, a fairly low rating for a vehicle of its size.

The Volvo XC60 also checks in at 18/24 mpg with its front-drive version; the LR2 doesn't come with any drivetrain other than its 4WD one--though it shares the Volvo's in-line six-cylinder engine.

For comparison, the Mercedes-Benz GLK splits the difference at 16/21 mpg--but the AWD Audi Q5 tops them both at 18/23 mpg. The 2011 BMW X3 blows all of them away with its 19/27 mpg rating, thanks to an eight-speed automatic tempering its turbocharged acceleration.

Even the larger seven-seat Kia Sorento gets an 18/24-mpg score from the EPA. It's not a luxury vehicle, true, but efficiency is a factor that transcends luxury labels, if sales of the Toyota Prius and Tesla Roadster are the landmarks.

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April 16, 2015
For 2011 Land Rover LR2

Highway comfort and genuine off-road

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