News Column

A Car-Based Land Rover? A Hands-On Review of the LR2

April 24, 2008

Ralph Gray


A car-based Land Rover sounds like a contradiction in terms. It's not. The LR2 is a car utility vehicle (CUV) that is actually competent off-road.

Like other front-wheel drive vehicles, there's no low range for the all-wheel drive. Those two configurations, the fwd and the lack of a growler setting, just about define CUV mechanicals.

In the LR2, that's largely offset by Land Rover innovations like Terrain Response System, Hill Descent and a manual control for all-wheel drive.

Almost as important: the LR2 looks like its "big brother" Land Rovers both inside and out.

Beneath that clamshell hood, stepped roof (with a dual panel sunroof) and chiseled lines is a platform shared with Volvo's CUVs. That means the LR2 on road is basically a front-drive vehicle with the all-wheel drive only cutting in when needed. It's Rover's first transverse mounted engine, as well.

If it weren't for the front-wheel drive the LR2 probably might not qualify as a CUV. There is very little car in the LR2 but there is a lot of Land Rover.

That engine is a Volvo 3.2L straight six developing 230 horsepower through a six speed automatic transmission. That transmission can be used in normal, sport and manual shift modes.

The combination sends the LR2 to 60 mph in 8.4 highly respectable seconds. The LR2 is no slouch on road, either.

It cruises nicely straight ahead while "'twisties'" produce a fair amount of lean traceable to off road suspensions.

The driving position is commanding with a sweeping view ahead. The front seats are power and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. Dark eucalyptus wood trim is used. Seats are leather. The navigation screen is large and easily seen and there are actual knobs for the radio.

The steering wheel with audio and cruise controls is thick. There's little room to rest hands on the spokes and that's good in this case. Fingers and thumbs left within the wheel circumference can get mashed when the wheel spins madly on off-road rocks and ruts.

It's comfortable around town with the okay acceleration and it's handy in parking lots. Fuel economy is 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

LR2 drivers know that there is a mechanical backbone to its off road good looks. The electronically controlled center coupling links the driveshaft to the rear wheels. It can be activated by the driver (and not just by a computer) to provide four wheel power right at the start.

Terrain response, which comes from LR2's siblings, supplies four settings--general for on-road and some off-road; grass-gravel-snow for slippery surfaces; mud and ruts (our favorite) and sand.

So there, CUVs.

Land Rover LR2 Land Rover LR2

•Engine: 3.2L I-4

•Dimensions: 104.7" wheelbase; 171.1." length.

•Base price: $35,375/tested $40,700.

•Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg.

Source: (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters