As consumers gravitate toward car-based crossover SUVs, manufacturers are rolling out even more models to meet demand. Luxury-brand automakers have been focusing on introducing small crossover utility vehicles, and one of the first to join this segment was the Land Rover LR2.
The LR2's small size makes it maneuverable in urban environments. At the same time, the LR2 still retains the superior off-road ability for which Land Rovers are known. This dual-purpose approach leaves the Land Rover LR2 in a somewhat compromised position, however. Its on-road performance disappoints, as the LR2 lacks both the straight-line performance and on-road handling feel of its competitors. For the small group of consumers who want a small luxury SUV with a fair amount of all-terrain capability, these sacrifices may have been acceptable when it was introduced, but with Land Rover's stylish and well-rounded Evoque coming on line, the LR2's strengths have faded.
Current Land Rover LR2
The Land Rover LR2 is available in a single trim level. Motivation comes from a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 230 horsepower and 234 pound-feet of torque. The sole transmission choice is a six-speed automatic with a manual shift mode. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard.
With its reputation for off-road performance to uphold, Land Rover endowed the LR2 with technologies to make it both capable and confident when the journey is off the beaten path. Chief among these is Terrain Response, which is standard on the LR2. Terrain Response adapts the responses of the vehicle's engine, transmission, AWD system, suspension electronics, and stability and hill descent control systems to match the demands of the terrain. It optimizes drivability and comfort as well as maximizing traction. All the driver has to do is select from one of four driving conditions via a rotary knob, and the LR2's computers automatically optimize the vehicle's systems for the selected setting.
The LR2 has a significantly less luxurious cabin than its Land Rover and Range Rover siblings, not to mention its competition. On the upside, many of its standard features are often optional on competitors. These include: keyless ignition/entry; a panoramic dual-panel sunroof with one-touch control; front and rear foglights and power headlamp washers; rain-sensing wipers; rear parking sensors; power leather seats; 18-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone climate control. Notable optional features include a navigation system, memory seating, bi-xenon adaptive front lighting, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and a surround-sound audio system.
In reviews and road tests, we've found the Land Rover LR2 to be down on power. When combined with this vehicle's relatively hefty curb weight, it's no wonder that acceleration seems mediocre for a luxury SUV. Meanwhile, the LR2 is notable for a compliant suspension compatible with off-road mobility. At the same time, the pronounced body roll and nose dive that results doesn't deliver the kind of sportiness that people expect on pavement, although outright cornering grip and braking distances do not suffer, and the ride quality is comfortable.
If your intent is to take your small luxury crossover SUV off-road, then the LR2 should be near the top of your consideration list. Though the soft suspension settings compromise a sporty performance on the pavement, the LR2 still delivers superior traction and control on light- and medium-duty trails. And while the LR2 lacks low-range gearing, the Terrain Response system does indeed give the driver a high level of confidence when the going gets rough, bridging the performance gap between the light-duty AWD systems on most car-based SUVs and the dual-range 4WD systems on more traditional SUVs.
Used Land Rover LR2 Models
The Land Rover LR2 debuted for 2008. For that model year alone, it was available in a base SE trim level, which varied little from the HSE.
Though the LR2 is technically in its first generation, Land Rover's first compact utility, sold in this country from 2002-'05, was known as the Freelander and was similar in size and styling to the present model.