Land Rover has a new entry-level model for 2008, the LR2. It replaces the Freelander and competes with compact luxury SUVs like the Acura RDX and BMW X3. The LR2 packs new looks, a more powerful engine and plenty of offroad equipment. For cash-strapped Land Rover fans, it arrives not a moment too soon: The British automaker's other SUVs range from $38,000 to $90,000.
The LR2 shares a 230-horsepower inline-six-cylinder engine with several Volvo models. Offroad ability gets a boost thanks to permanent four-wheel drive that can apportion nearly 100 percent of engine power to the front or rear wheels. A terrain response system similar to that on the larger LR3 is also included.
Trim levels include the base SE and uplevel HSE.
From the adjoined headlights to the squared-off rear, the LR2 looks like a shrunken LR3 or Range Rover -- which is to say Land Rover is better than some at maintaining a family resemblance among its vehicles. HSE models have 19-inch wheels, body-colored bumpers and titanium door handles.
The LR2 measures 177.2 inches from bumper to bumper, just 2.2 inches longer than its predecessor and marginally shorter than the RDX and X3. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a 31-degree approach angle, the LR2 is more offroad capable than the RDX and X3. Hummer's larger, but similarly priced, H3 beats all three with 9.1 inches of clearance and a formidable 40.4-degree approach angle.
Interior architecture mirrors the pricier LR3, with squared-off dashboard controls and a four-spoke steering wheel. Dual-zone automatic climate control, one-touch windows and leather upholstery are among the upscale touches. A two-piece panoramic moonroof is standard, as are power front seats and leather upholstery. Audiophiles can choose an optional 12-speaker Dolby system with 7.1 surround sound.
Two rows of seats accommodate five occupants, and cargo volume behind the second row measures 26.5 cubic feet. With the backseat folded, maximum cargo volume measures 59 cubic feet -- a 27 percent increase over the Freelander but 12 cubic feet short of the commodious X3.
Under the Hood
The 3.2-liter inline-six generates 230 hp and 234 pounds-feet of torque. It drives all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Land Rover's standard Terrain Response System matches engine, transmission and wheel-slip response to any of four selectable settings: normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand.
When properly equipped, the LR2 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Four-wheel disc brakes include standard ABS. In addition, dual front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag are standard. An electronic stability system includes parent company Ford's Roll Stability Control, which can detect impending rollovers and attempt to prevent them by applying individual brakes.