Land Rover is not historically known for providing much of an “entry level” option into their four-wheel-driving world. The ill-concieved and awkward looking Freelander was still relatively expensive and seemed out-of-sync with the rest of the lineup. Since there has to be something in the lineup that is the cheapest of the bunch, for 2009 that vehicle is the LR2.
Completely redesigned for the 2008 model year, the Land Rover LR2 is the smallest and least expensive Land Rover, but shares many features, including a general exterior appearance with the more expensive and luxurious LR3 and Range Rover models. In actuality the LR2 shares many components with Volvo and Jaguar. The platform of the LR2 is the same as the Volvo S80 and XC90, and the 3.2 liter 230 horsepower six-cylinder is made by Jaguar. Fuel economy is 15/22 mpg in city and highway driving. Of course, Land Rover’s bread and butter is off-roading capability, and the LR2 is no exception, even with a low range transfer case. Handling is also decent despite the LR2s added height as the result of both stability and traction control systems. By way of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, the driver can adjust the handling characteristics. The styling of both a luxury and four-wheel-drive vehicle is not an easy proposition. Too much of either element and the vehicle will either look too soft, or behave too harshly. The LR2 gets things just about right with an appearance that is both refined and tough. In actual driving on pavement the ride is definitely more truck-like than car. Keeping things simple, the LR2 comes in one trim (SE) with standard all-wheel drive.
Inside, the LR2 is is well appointed with leather and wood materials, as well as a large sunroof and plenty of other amenities. These include an Alpine nine-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, six-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, and a push-button starter. While it officially seats five, four passengers are the limit for any length of time, and some reviews tend to feel the back seat is a bit of a tight squeeze. Cargo space is unremarkable for an SUV with a maximum of 58.9 cubic feet of space available with the seats down. Still the general shape of the LR2 lends itself easy to loading and unloading bulky objects.
The biggest decision a potential buyer has to consider is if the LR2s pedigree and off-roading heritage of Land Rover is worth the premium cost of $36,150. However, getting into the next level up of Land Rover will cost you at least $13 grand more, making the LR2 almost a bargain.