CNHI News Service

Features

December 27, 2012

CARS: Rugged Land Rover can handle the elements

Land Rover staff could not have been happier showing off the new LR2 in the mud, snow, slush and ice.

The 2013 LR2 is at home in the elements. Slopping around in the mud, climbing mountains, descending nearly straight down slopes and carving through tight-fitting forest trails brings out the best in driving dynamics for the British-made little ‘ute.

The premium compact SUV is not very small, but it wears the entry-level Land Rover tag for price and value, starting at $37,250, including destination fees. Stepping up the model ladder, an HSE goes for $39,750 and HSE LUX drives out the dealership door at $42,350.

Although the LR2 was given a facelift in 2011, it waited until now to ditch its V6 engine in place of a more fuel efficient and powerful 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder. Supplied by Ford and known there as EcoBoost, the all-aluminum turbocharged engine is 88 pounds lighter than its predecessor.

It also adds 2 miles per gallon in fuel economy and is quicker in the 0 to 60 mph sprint coming in at 8.2 seconds compared with 8.4 for the V6.

Competition for the LR2 is in the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK arena. While the competition is sportier in looks and handling, the LR2 wins hands-down for off-road command and offers a durable feel on pavement, too. LR2 is one foot wider than all three competitors and a half-foot shorter than the BMW and Audi.

Part of the on-road durability comes from a six-speed automatic transmission featuring adaptive shifting available in normal and sport modes. While both modes are tied to a full-time four-wheel drive system, the tranny in sport mode is programmed to hold low gears longer. It will also downshift more readily to assist acceleration and minimize an annoying turbo lag.

A fully independent suspension with four corner coil-sprung struts coupled with front and rear anti-roll bars help keep the LR2 under control in all types of road maneuvers. Off road it can wade through water 19.7 inches deep while the competition can only watch.

A switchable Terrain Response system seamlessly coordinates the engine, gearbox, center coupling and chassis to match the demands of the roadway. The driver can select special programs by pushing console-mounted buttons that guide the LR2 through grass, gravel, snow, mud, ruts and sand.

The system works with a Hill Descent Control. Together they guide the LR2 through anything. Well, maybe not molten lava.

The first thing you notice when entering the LR2 cabin is a new center console. A 7-inch color screen controls audio, navigation and phone settings with a touch or by using a voice-activated system with audio prompts. A new 5-inch screen between instrument cluster gauges provides a graphic display of engine vitals and gear position.

Exterior changes are minimal for 2013. Front and rear headlamps have been re-designed using LED light technologies to create a signature look.

Land Rover hopes the new fuel-efficient engine and interior refinements will spark more LR2 sales in the U.S.

 ---

Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at editor@ptd.net)

2013 Land Rover LR2

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged, 240 hp

EPA mpg: 17 city, 24 highway

Base price: $37,250 incl. shipping

Assembled: Land Rover is manufactured and assembled in the United Kingdom at the Halewood, England facility.

Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have not yet rated the Land Rover LR2.

Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper and roadside assistance.

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