2013 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
January 25, 2013

An urbane crossover with real SUV heritage behind it, the 2013 Land Rover LR2 makes street driving more interesting this year with turbo power.

The Range Rover is the archetype of the brand, but with the LR2, Land Rover signaled it's ready to build the kind of crossover SUVs most buyers want today. A mid-size wagon with all-wheel drive, good ground clearance and towing capability, the LR2's still more of a street driver than the heritage-steeped shape might telegraph to likely shoppers.

That said, the LR2 straddles the span between the fashion-plate Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover's larger, more capable LR4 ute. It's possible you'll see one plugging away at some muddy, moderately difficult off-road trails--but far more likely, you'll watch it pull tidily into a compact parking spot at the other, nicer shopping area in town.

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 this year from a more carlike cockpit, a new interior with a big LCD touchscreen, softer-touch materials, and a big cutback in the confusion of buttons and switches that riddled the old cabin.

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The LR2 is sold in just one drivetrain configuration in the U.S. but the former in-line six-cylinder has been 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. 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.

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.

In balance, the LR2 sits more with the German luxury crossovers--the Q5, the GLK--than it does with Japanese hardware like the Acura RDX. It feels more substantial, and sits more upright, and gas mileage is improved, though still not a breakout in the class. 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.

Despite its more traditional role in the Land Rover family, the LR2 reeks of its 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 than 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.

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2013 Land Rover LR2

Styling

The look is still classic Land Rover, but the LR2's new cockpit is better, and more finely finished this year.

Very minor changes to the grille and some other trim on the 2013 LR2 will drive spotters crazy, but to the rest of the world, the handsome, angular Land Rover outline remains unchanged, and refreshingly distinctive compared to the softer crossovers from Volvo, Audi, and others.

The LR2 hasn't changed much at all since the 2008 launch year, and it's the kind of vehicle that could keep going in existing form until it decides to retire. The related Range Rover Evoque's lifted any styling burden from its shoulders, letting the LR2 do what it does best--be an understated companion piece, a boxy-looking, entirely appropriate SUV on the outside. The mild changes, in case you're wondering, amount to a brighter touch on the grille and fog lamp trim.

Inside, the LR2 does a more convincing job of meeting the crossovers on equal ground. It's given up some of the clutter of small switches, and some of the more rigid lines and shapes, for a more carlike interface that also comes off more refined and more richly finished than before. The addition of LCD panels on the dash and between the newly styled gauges brings some of the techno-friendly panache of the Range Rover to the cockpit, and the swap-out of Terrain Response knobs for a set of switches like those in the Evoque pare down the visual confusion for the driver.

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2013 Land Rover LR2

Performance

A turbo drivetrain gives the Land Rover LR2 more urgency, and leaves its mid-grade off-road capabilities intact.

It's not the first Land Rover we'd choose to take on a Kalahari safari, but the LR2 presents most drivers with the SUV package they really want: quick and fairly nimble, not too large, with enough all-weather traction to let them tout the brand without living daily with a gargantuan off-road specialist.

The LR2's good urban and interstate manners translated easily into the Range Rover Evoque, which shares some of its body structure. But until now, the Evoque actually had the more lively, economical engine--a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 240 horsepower. It's an engine that came to Land Rover when it belonged to the Ford empire, and in the Evoque it's a good fit, if somewhat noisy.

In the LR2, the same engine evolves into a more refined piece with better output (10 more horsepower, 16 pound-feet more torque) and quicker acceleration--and it puts almost 100 pounds less a burden on the front end. It's still paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, but 0-60 mph times drop a few tenths to around the 8.2-second mark. It feels noticeably more perky too--the turbo four has slight lag, but when it's on boost it's an energetic teammate with the automatic, where the former six flatly and smoothly revved through its powerband.

The lighter engine also relieves the front end, and though the LR2 doesn't switch to the electric power steering found in the Evoque, it certainly feels more lively than before, thanks to that weight loss. 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 and moderately sized 18-inch wheels and tires means it doesn't need a costly air suspension to keep jounces and bounces to a minimum.

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That said, it's far from the best choice for anything more than a muddy path to the weekend cabin. The LR2 lacks a true four-wheel-drive system--there's no low range, which qualifies the Haldex system as all-wheel drive by most definitions--but its traction system has been engineered with many electronic assistants to endow the LR2 with more than reasonable all-terrain ability. It won't be running the Paris-Dakar Rally any time soon, but 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. It can also tow up to 3,500 pounds.
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2013 Land Rover LR2

Comfort & Quality

There's ample room for people and cargo in the Land Rover LR2, and better small-item storage is formed into its revised cabin.

While it hardly earns a peasant place in the parking garage, the Land Rover LR2 is no Range Rover. It's sized to fit urban environments, and now has a better constructed cabin that goes more with the grain of the other SUVs in the Land Rover lineup.

Four adults will fit very well in the LR2, especially those two that ride in front. The supple, just-firm-enough front seats just need a little more lateral support to make it into the highest tier--the world can learn a lot from Volvo here. Head room is ample all around, even with the dual sunroofs, and the revised center console design has liberated more knee room for those in front.

The console also now houses a new LCD display for audio and navigation, and the old rotary knob for the LR2's all-wheel-drive system has been replaced with a much smaller set of buttons--which leaves enough room for a lidded storage bin.

The back seat is wide enough for three children or two adults to ride comfortably. Leg room beats out many competitors, and the seats themselves have good backrest support. The cushions sit high for visibility, but it's not difficult to climb into the LR2 thanks to a low step-in height and tall doors.

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.

Happily, most of the cabin is covered in good-quality materials, and the now-standard turbo four actually behaves as quietly as the former in-line six in most driving modes. Credit there goes to extra bracing under the engine itself, which keeps vibrations quelled and damps out some of the noise we've thought takes some of the appealing edge off the related Range Rover Evoque.

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2013 Land Rover LR2

Safety

A rearview camera's a welcome addition, but other high-tech safety options are still off the Land Rover LR2's horizon.

The Land Rover LR2 hasn't been crash-tested as of yet, but all models gain more secondary safety features this year.

Neither the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)  has tested the LR2 since it was introduced, even in light of new test regimens and even new tests from the IIHS, including those measuring roof-crush and small-offset safety. The LR2 gets its baseline score from us because of the information we've reviewed for safety in similar vehicles, and in that from one structurally related to Volvo's XC60 crossover.

All LR2 crossover SUVs come standard with the usual airbags (including a driver knee airbag) and stability control, as well as all-wheel drive that's integrated with those safety systems to optimize traction and response to accidents. Rear parking sensors are standard as well, and this year, Bluetooth is included on all models--it's a worthwhile inclusion, we think, because of the prevalence of talking and driving.

Many of the other high-tech safety features found on the latest BMWs and Benzes are absent--features like blind-spot warning and lane-departure systems--but this year, LR2s with the optional navigation system also get a rearview camera with an assist mode that helps drivers connect a hitched vehicle.

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. In the 2011 model year, the LR2 adopted larger side mirrors to help drivers stay on the lookout for potential trouble.

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2013 Land Rover LR2

Features

Meridian audio and an improved navigation system are new to the LR2 for 2013.

The 2013 Land Rover LR2 comes trimmed in three models: the $37,250 base edition, the $39,750 HSE, and the $42,350 HSE LUX. Each one's outfitted with the luxury gear you'd expect from the brand, but this year the LR2 gets better at entertaining and informing drivers with new standard equipment.

Each version comes with the usual power windows, locks, and mirrors; power front seats; automatic climate control; dual sunroofs; and leather upholstery. Keyless pushbutton start and Bluetooth are now standard as well.

An AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with hard-drive music storage, satellite radio pre-wiring and a USB port is included, and this year the LR2 switches over to Meridian audio systems. The base unit is a 380-watt system with 11 speakers, with the upgraded version moving to 17 speakers and 825 watts of output. It's controlled via dash buttons, via steering-wheel buttons, and via a new 7-inch touchscreen integrated well into the dash. Voice controls can run some secondary systems as well. A separate 5-inch screen between the gauges displays more of the same information.

Other features are bundled into the higher-priced models, while some are available a la carte, and are priced accordingly. There's a navigation system with a large LCD display and more intuitive operation than before; it displays the output from a new rearview camera, both standard on the HSE model, and it now includes route planning for efficiency and lane guidance. The HSE also adds heated front seats and steering wheel, and premium leather and carpeting.

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2013 Land Rover LR2

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage gets better in this year's Land Rover LR2, pulling closer to the class standards.

Gas mileage is on the upswing at Land Rover, and with a powertrain transplant from its Evoque sibling, the 2013 LR2 is more efficient this year.

Last year's LR2 drew power from an in-line six that wasn't the most frugal engine in its class--not even close. At 15/22 mpg, it was rated below even the Mercedes GLK and Audi Q5, and was well off the mark set by the Volvo XC60---a vehicle that shared its architecture, but also offered a front-drive model.

This year, the LR2 adopts the Evoque's 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder and an eight-speed automatic. It's good for a bump to 17 miles per gallon city, 24 miles per gallon highway, according to the EPA, or a combined rating of 20 mpg. That puts it closer to the competition, even to the much more powerful BMW X3.

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Though Land Rover has access to a diesel powertrain in other markets, it's not expected to offer the option in the U.S.
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January 17, 2016
2013 Land Rover LR2 AWD 4-Door HSE

Sharp capable vehicle that is a joy to drive

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I just picked my 2013 up recently due to the fact that I tend to gravitate toward nicer luxury brands but needed something that was comfortable and able to handle the harsh winters of Western NY. I found a LR2... + More »
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Performance 7
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