The second generation of Land Rovers compact SUV, now called the LR2 instead of the Freelander, slots into the compact segment of the companys lineup. Its new design, enhanced power and on-road manners are superior to the Freelander.
Land Rover said the goal of the LR2 is to provide the smooth ride, accomplished performance and attractive cabin of a premium sedan while maintaining the capabilities of an SUV, and it succeeds.
Prices begin at $34,700, and that includes a long list of standard equipment.
The design, which carries cues from both the LR3 and Range Rover Sport, has a geometric simplicity.
The five-door body has a tight and strong structure that enhances both ride comfort and performance. The fully independent suspension swallows bumps nicely. Vehicle stability control with rollover sensors is standard.
The LR2 is powered by a 3.2-liter, 230-horsepower, inline six-cylinder engine that is derived from the one used in Volvos new S80 sedan. Ford Motor Company owns both Land Rover and Volvo.
This engines overall size has been reduced by mounting most of its accessories directly to the rear of the engine. Variable valve timing and two camshaft profiles broaden this engines power output so it is responsive and efficient at low speeds yet still has high-speed muscle.
The transversely mounted engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually.
The LR2 is primarily an urban SUV that has permanent all-wheel drive. While Im sure it can handle moderate off-road work, the lack of a two-speed transfer case means it is not intended for rock climbing or mud plugging. Gradient Release Control helps hold the vehicle when it starts off on steep or slippery slopes.
The LR2 also uses Land Rovers Terrain Response system that allows the driver to select different vehicle performance characteristics with a knob on the console. Terrain Response enhances driving in snow, sand and off-road.
The LR2s interior has generous head, shoulder and leg room. The glass areas are large, and rear-seat passengers sit slightly higher than those in front. A two-part glass sunroof adds to the feeling of openness.
Land Rover said that cargo space is among the best in class.
The steering wheel has fingertip controls for cruise control and the audio system. The audio systems menu system can be confusing at times, and the navigation screen does not have a backup camera. Backup cameras are tremendously helpful in SUVs, and some competing models in this price range have them.
Standard features include keyless ignition, one-touch automatic power windows, bi-xenon headlamps, headlamps that move with the steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers and rear park distance control. The navigation system and upgraded audio system with 14 speakers and surround sound, is optional.
The base price of the test vehicle was $34,700. Options included the navigation system with Bluetooth telephone capabilities and satellite radio, heated front windshield, heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights and memory for the drivers seat. The sticker price of our tester was $39,950.
Dual zone automatic climate control air conditioning - driver and passenger
Alpine premium AM/FM in-dash 6 CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo system with 9 speakers
Major Available Options (Partial List, depends on model, some options are only available as part of a package, see your Land Rover dealer for details)
Technology Package, Includes: Sirius satellite radio, personal telephone integration system with Bluetooth, DVD-based navigation system, 440-watt Alpine AM/FM audio system with Dolby Pro Logic II 7.1 surround-sound, in-dash 6-Disc CD changer with MP3-capability and 14 speakers, and rear-seat audio controls.
Lighting Package, Includes: Bi-Xenon headlights, Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS), memory system for the driver seat and exterior mirrors and approach and puddle lamps.
Cold Climate Package, Includes: heated front windshield, heated front seats with two heating levels and heated windshield washer jets.