What's New for 2009
After debuting last year, the Land Rover LR2 heads into 2009 with minimal changes. The base SE trim has been dropped, and the new HST option package adds an exterior body kit and other cosmetic upgrades.
Gone are the days when the primary motivation for buying a Land Rover was to traverse rugged terrain far off the beaten path. Today, the marque's vehicles are more often seen lining the parking lots of high-end shopping malls rather than the watering holes of the Serengeti. It might come as no surprise, then, to know that the 2009 Land Rover LR2 small SUV was created mainly for a life on pavement.
The LR2 debuted last year as a replacement for the Freelander. With mechanical underpinnings from former parent company Ford's Volvo S40, the 2009 Land Rover LR2 is much more up-to-date and has all the luxury crossover basics down, with unibody construction, six-cylinder power and plenty of standard and optional features. The LR2 doesn't completely sell out Land Rover's heritage, though. The company still gave it a respectable 8.3 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive and Land Rover's Terrain Response system. The latter provides four driver-selectable modes tailored for varying terrain and allows the LR2 to trudge through ruts and mud with considerably more gusto and poise than any competing vehicle.
Yet the 2009 Land Rover LR2 fails to be the top choice in the compact luxury SUV segment. Compared to its rivals, the LR2 suffers from merely adequate acceleration, lackluster handling on the pavement and a cabin that looks more utilitarian than elegant. Unless you truly need something with an off-road pedigree, other small luxury crossovers such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35 and Mercedes GLK-Class will all likely prove to be better choices overall.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Land Rover LR2 is a small luxury crossover SUV offered in a single trim level: HSE. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, a dual-panel sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, leather seating, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry and a nine-speaker Alpine stereo with a six-CD/MP3 changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional equipment is available via a variety of packages. The technology package includes a navigation system, an upgraded surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, rear-seat audio controls and Bluetooth (a smaller package that adds just Bluetooth and satellite radio is also available). The lighting package offers adaptive xenon headlights, as well as driver-seat memory settings. For chilly weather, the Cold Climate package adds a heated windshield, heated washer jets and heated front seats. New for 2009, the HST package includes painted front and rear bumper enhancements, a special grille and other cosmetic upgrades. In addition, 18-inch wheels are available as a stand-alone option.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.2-liter inline-6, which makes 230 horsepower and 234 pound-feet of torque, powers the 2009 Land Rover LR2. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual shift modes. In our testing, an LR2 accelerated to 60 mph in a pokey 9.3 seconds.
The standard all-wheel-drive system sends nearly all of the engine's power to the front wheels by default, though it can redirect most of it to the rear wheels when needed to maximize traction in off-road situations. Serious off-roaders are out of luck, as the LR2 does not offer low-range gearing, but the built-in Terrain Response system helps to compensate by changing engine and transmission behavior in a choice of three off-road modes: Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand.
EPA fuel economy for the 2009 Land Rover LR2 is rated at 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined -- a disappointing rating considering the SUV's sluggish acceleration.
Side airbags for both driver and front passenger, side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers and a driver knee bag are all standard on the 2009 Land Rover LR2. Antilock brakes, traction control and stability control with a rollover sensor are also included.
Interior Design and Special Features
A traditional upright seating position, lots of wood and leather, and a utilitarian control layout with multiple buttons keep the LR2 looking and feeling like a typical Land Rover. The cluttered instrument panel is a little hard to read at a glance, and the climate and audio controls seem clunky to use at first. Materials quality is average and not up to par with what one might expect from a luxury crossover SUV. On the plus side, the optional navigation system's touchscreen is very simple to use.
There's plenty of legroom and headroom in the LR2, and a telescoping steering wheel makes it easy for drivers of all sizes to get comfortable. The backseat also offers a decent amount of room, but the low-mounted bench can hamper comfort for adults. When it comes to cargo space, the LR2 falls short -- there are only 27 cubic feet behind the rear seats due to the LR2's high cargo floor, and maximum capacity is just 59 cubes.
Mediocre acceleration and sluggish transmission response off the line make the 2009 Land Rover LR2 a less-than-stellar on-road performer. The steering is well weighted but lacks much driver feedback, and the LR2 suffers from a considerable amount of body roll around corners. Braking performance is good with a progressive pedal feel, but the suspension allows a bit too much front-end dive. That said, we like the LR2's ride quality and off-roading abilities -- it's both more comfortable and better able to tackle rough terrain than many competing small luxury crossovers.