2015 Land Rover LR2 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 26, 2015

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.

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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.

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2015 Land Rover LR2

Styling

The LR2 looks like a Land Rover should, and the interior's well-organized.

The Land Rover LR2's look hasn't changed much since the model launched for 2008. We now know that it won't change any more, since 2015 will be the last model year for this model. The LR2 gets by with the minor trim and grille updates it received a couple years back, carrying the same iconic yet conservative looks. It's angular and handsome, and distinctive in a segment filled with increasingly curvaceous mid-size luxury crossovers.

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.

Those looking for a fashion statement now have the Range Rover Evoque to lean on, leaving the LR2 to its vaguely more off-road worthy character–including a boxy, rugged exterior that draws so many to the Land Rover brand in the first place. And next year, the LR2 will be replaced by the Discovery Sport, which sits somewhere between the LR2 and Evoque stylistically—a modern take on the classic look, if you will.

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2015 Land Rover LR2

Performance

There's more off-road ability here than in rivals, and the newer turbo four matches the LR2's size well.

The LR2 may not be our go-to Land Rover if we're heading into the desert, but it does offer the kind of packaging most drivers really want today. It isn't too large, but it does offer the kind of all-weather, relatively nimble and quick experience that feels empowering behind the wheel, without feeling overpowering on the road.

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

The LR2's turbo four makes 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, more than the six-cylinder it recently replaced. It's still paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and not the nine-speed fitted to the Evoque, but 0-60 mph times drop a few tenths to around the 8.2-second mark compared to the old six's times. 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.

A lighter engine 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.

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. 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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2015 Land Rover LR2

Comfort & Quality

Adults can fit well in the second-row seat, but the front chairs are the best seats in the house.

No one's going to confuse a 2015 LR2 with a Range Rover, but it's clear that some of this ute's siblings have influenced its interior. The LR2 is sized for urban areas, and the trappings are in keeping with at least the Land Rover badge, if not the fancier Range Rover line.

Good-quality materials are used throughout much of the cabin, and everything is arrayed pleasingly. 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 to a minimum and damps out some of the noise we find unappealing in the related Range Rover Evoque.

Four adults will fit comfortably in the LR2, especially those two that ride in front. The supple, just-firm-enough front seats 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 back seat is wide enough for three children or two adults to ride comfortably. Leg room beats out many competitors, and the seats have good backrest support. The cushions are high up for good visibility form in back, 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 in the LR2--for that, you have to trade up to Land Rover's LR4. The littler ute makes use of the space in back for cargo instead; with the rear seat in place, the LR2 offers 27 cubic feet of storage space. When that seat's folded flat, 59 cubic feet of cargo room is available. In raw numbers it's average for the segment, but the space is tall and useful. For comparison, it can hold more behind its rear seat than can a 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.

The console houses an 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.

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2015 Land Rover LR2

Safety

A rearview camera is now standard, but the Land Rover LR2 hasn't been crash-tested.

The Land Rover LR2 hasn't been tested by either of the national safety agencies. This isn't a knock against it, however; crash testers often skip expensive low-volume vehicles for the sake of rating the most popular models instead. The LR2 does include all of the expected safety features, which is what we base its score on. That said, it lacks the advanced safety systems found on competitors and its own Evoque sibling.

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, as is Bluetooth—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 monitors and lane-departure warning systems--but LR2s with the optional navigation system also get a rearview camera with an assist mode that helps drivers connect a trailer.

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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2015 Land Rover LR2

Features

Wood and leather trim, navigation, and advanced safety gear complete the LR2's Range Rover-like features.

The 2015 Land Rover LR2 is offered in three trim levels: the top-of-the-line HSE LUX, the HSE, and the base model, which gets no letters. All include the standard amenities you'd expect on a luxury crossover, but the LR2 is also pretty good at entertaining drivers, too.

Standard features include power windows, locks, and mirrors; power front seats; automatic climate control; dual sunroofs; leather upholstery, keyless pushbutton start, and Bluetooth.

An AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with hard-drive music storage, satellite radio pre-wiring and a USB port is included. There are two audio systems available, both with Meridian branding: The base unit is a 380-watt system with 11 speakers, while the optional upgrade has 17 speakers and 825 watts of output. Both are controlled via dash buttons, via steering-wheel buttons, and via a 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.

There are only a handful of a la carte features. There's a navigation system with an improved LCD display and more intuitive operation than before; it displays the output from a rearview camera, both standard on the HSE model, and it includes route planning for efficiency as well as lane guidance. The HSE also adds heat for the front seats and steering wheel, and premium leather and carpeting.

The 2015 model year, the LR2's last, brings a few value-oriented options 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.

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2015 Land Rover LR2

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage improved when the LR2 adopted a new turbo four.

The LR2 gets acceptable fuel economy from its turbocharged four, but it's not quite as good as the Evoque in that regard; the LR2 goes out with the old six-speed auto, while the Evoque has been upgraded to a more efficient nine-speed unit.

Still, the turbo four was an improvement over the LR2's old in-line six. The 2015 model is rated at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, according to the EPA, with a combined rating of 20 mpg. It ties Infiniti's small QX50 crossover exactly, but it beaten by pretty much everything in its segment, as well as many larger crossovers.

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February 24, 2016
2015 Land Rover LR2 AWD 4-Door

Remarkably comfy on long trips

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I'm an Aussie and have the (unavailable in US) 2.2L diesel (the 150hp, not the 190hp). Torque is incredible at 420nm (310 ft/lb). Economy is about 35-40mpg for the diesel. It is a genuine off-road vehicle... + More »
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