Land Rover’s LR2 modest in price, but boasts off-roading capability
Land Rover’s proud and adept off-roading history assures you that you’ll be getting a terrain crunching vehicle with any model, but the expectation of luxury is surely just as great.
So it is with its entry-level sport-ute, the LR2. With a modest starting price of $36,400 you know this isn’t going to be smothered in luxury, but still your expectations are elevated.
Created in Halewood, England, but now part of India’s Tata Motors automotive empire, Land Rovers have always been able off-road warriors. This one is no different, what with Hill Descent Control so that the LR2 won’t go careening down a steep incline at too great a speed, and with what Land Rover calls a 19.7-inch water wading depth. In addition the ute’s design includes a 29-degree approach angle and 32-degree departure angle at its rear.
So yes, it’ll go off road and take on any gravel, snow, sand that gets in its way. The 4-wheel-drive system is fulltime and a driver can push arrows on the console to electronically set the transmission to handle any of the aforementioned surfaces.
But let’s face it. Mostly you’ll be cruising the interstate and our nation’s crumbling roads, possibly an even greater challenge than sand or mud.
As in its off-roading abilities, the LR2 excels on road. Ride is well controlled and comfortable, despite a fairly short 104.7-inch wheelbase, and steering is moderate in weight. Handling is fairly precise too, so you won’t feel you’re in a lumbering giant. In fact, the turning radius is modest so parking the Rover is a cinch.Mounting this truck is another story as it’s a tall ute, so you’ll need to use the steering wheel or over-door pull handles to climb inside. No running board here. But you expect this to be tall and its boxy, albeit smooth, design delivers a no-nonsense ute message.I like the new 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that replaces the former I6 powerplant. This engine packs plenty of power, delivering 240 horses. Tromp the pedal and the turbo jumps to life, scooting the LR2 up to highway speeds quickly. Land Rover claims 0-60 in 8.2 seconds.
The only downside, as in many fancier trucks and sedans, especially those with turbos, there’s a slight lag on acceleration. This is less noticeable under normal acceleration, but really stands out when you let off the gas and then reapply the throttle. Sometimes as you await the power you end up pushing the pedal harder, then get a sudden burst of power. It’s not a big concern, but a noticeable hesitation that you must learn to deal with.
On the plus side, the LR2’s 6-speed automatic, with clutch-less manual CommandShift, is super smooth, giving the Rover the luxury feel you’d expect. Plus that tranny hooked up with the smaller turbo engine delivers a bit better gas mileage than the previous model. The EPA rates this at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. I got 18.75 in about 60% city driving. Sadly the LR2 requires premium petrol, pretty common among turbos.
Braking comes from four-wheel ventilated discs, with ABS, traction control and stability control. Add that to the 4-wheel drive and you feel solidly in control at all times. Plus this is not as heavy a beast as you might imagine, checking in at 4,080 lbs., thanks to a liberal use of aluminum in the body. Naturally the engine is a lightweight aluminum alloy too.
For comparison an upscale Ford Explorer Sport with 4-wheel-drive checks in at 4,697 lbs. Note though that the Explorer is roughly 20 inches longer, but is in the same price category, starting at roughly $40,000. The tested Firenze Red ($950 extra) LR2 checked in at $44,245, modest by Land Rover prices, but in the ballpark with entry-level luxury units.
There’s enough oomph to tow some of your favorite powersports toys too, the LR2 touts a 3,500-lb. tow capacity. Storage is good in the ute’s tail, with 26.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 58.9 cubic feet if you fold the rear seats down. Sadly the rear hatch is not powered, something I’d expect in this price range.
Part of what pushed the price tag up on the tested LR2 were add-ons like a navigation system with voice recognition and CD player for $1,750, a climate comfort pack with heated front seats, heated windshield and washer gets, plus heated steering wheel. That costs $1,000. However, I would expect the heated seats to have more than two settings and also a cooling system in a luxury vehicle.Lastly, the test ute included Sirius satellite radio with a high-def system for $750 including 3 months of service. The big cost though came from a $2,500 HSE package that included HomeLink, exterior approach lamps, Xenon headlights with an auto leveling system, memory driver’s seat and side mirrors, along with a rear camera and map reading lights.
Overall the cockpit where you enjoy many of these features is quiet and comfortable and plenty roomy for five adults. Headroom is good throughout, but foot room can become tight in the rear if the front seat occupants are tall and slide their seats back.
LR2’s seats are covered in sumptuous black leather, but are firm and I found the driver’s seat too narrow. A larger adult would surely find this a tight fit.
Rover’s dash is easy to see and the controls relatively simple to figure out, with a manual tilt-telescope steering wheel that includes cruise and phone controls on the hub. The wheel, which is heated, is thick and wrapped in leather too.
Overhead are two sunroofs with screen shades, which let some light in at all times. They snap back quickly and are easy to pull back and re-latch. Surprisingly though, the large sun visors did not slide, nor did they include extenders. Funny the things car companies scrimp on.
The radio wasn’t a scrimp item though, featuring 350 watts, the Meridian sound system could rock the LR2. Unlike many luxury makes, the radio and navigation system were easy to use, with buttons that made sense. Yes it was a touch screen, but buttons around it and volume and tuning knobs made it useable, not a distraction, while driving.
All told, the LR2 is a quite civilized ute that you could take into mucky, rocky, uncivilized territory.
FAST Stats: 2013 Land Rover LR2
Hits: Roomy, quiet, luxurious true sport-utility truck with fairly precise handling, a modest turning radius, good power and smooth shifts. Two sunroofs, heated steering wheel and sumptuous leather seats.
Misses: Seats are narrow and only have two heat settings and no cooling, hatch isn’t powered, visors don’t slide and there’s some acceleration hesitation. Drinks premium fuel, ouch!
Made in: Halewood, U.K.
Engine: 2.0-liter I4 turbo, 240 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/CommandShift
Weight: 4,080 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.7 in.
Cargo: 26.7 cu.ft. (58.9 cu.ft. rear seat down)
Tow: 3,500 lbs.
Water wading depth: 19.7 in.
Base Price: $36,400
Dealer’s Price: $33,124
Climate comfort pack (heated front seats, windshield, washer jets and steering wheel), $1,000
Sirius satellite radio/HD 3-months, $750
HSE package (HomeLink, approach lamps, Xenon headlights w/auto leveling, memory driver’s seat/side mirrors, LED signature lighting, rear camera, map reading lights), $2,500
Navigation system w/voice recognition, virtual CD player, $1,750
Special paint, $950
Test vehicle: $44,245
Sources: Land Rover, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Land Rover