When your entire production line consists of SUV’s you either continue to churn out gas guzzlers as you slip into extinction, curl up into a fetal position and pray to Dick Cheney or grow a brain and produce viable alternatives. With the 2010 LRX, Land Rover is attempting to prove it has a place in an SUV-less era.
The “Crossover” designation is used alot today in an attempt to fool consumers to think they aren’t buying an SUV. Fact is, many crossovers, including the new BMW X6, actually get the same if not WORSE gas mileage than bigger SUV’s such as the Suburban. But for what it’s worth the LRX is described as a cross-coupe and was conceived at first as a premium car for “those who want many of the benefits of a 4×4 and the presence of a larger vehicle, but in a more compact package.”
Size, along with lower weight and the reduced aerodynamic drag should give the LRX significant gains in fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. Smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic vehicles get better gas mileage? Shocking….Another change at Land Rover is the use of polycarbonate material over glass and metal on the side windows and roof that provide a weight savings of 40% and also lowers the car’s centre of gravity to improve handling, one thing Land Rover has never been known for.
At some point a hybrid option, probably from the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid or even a turbocharged diesel, will likely be in the mix. A diesel version would be able to achieve 60 mpg in some estimates. As in other hybrids, the LRX will have an integrated starter-generator that shuts off the engine at stoplights to minimize emissions and save fuel, then starts up on wehn you step on the gas. A regenerative-braking function, another common hybrid feature, charges the batteries when coasting and decelerating. Also included is what Land Rover calls an Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) that provides rear-wheel electric-only operation up to 20 mph.
The interior of the LRX continues the “green” outlook for Land Rover with the choice of interior materials. The leather is tanned with vegetable compounds, there is extensive use of aluminium which is both lightweight and readily recyclable and the carpeting is made of felt from sustainable sources. Even the luxurious, vanilla-coloured fake suede on the door inserts and headliner is a 100% recycled material made from used plastic bottles.
One prediction is that the LRX will start at $35,000 with a conventional V6/automatic powerteam. A hybrid LRX, if there is one, would likely run $40,000 or more. Estimates are that the LRX may be in the U.S. by 2011. Whether it is a real SUV alternative or just another expensive poser remains to be seen.