For many, the name Land Rover conjures up images of putting on a tweed sweater and heading out to an English countryside cabin with your chaps. After all, this British company has built a reputation on making hard-core off-road machines.
|1. Replacing the six-cylinder is a new 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque.
2. AWD comes standard, as does the ability to drive through 20-inches of water.
3. A Terrain Response system lets the driver choose the type of AWD performance required: Sand, Mud/Ruts, Grass/Gravel/Snow and finally a default setting.
4. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
5. Priced from $37,250 our HSE test car retails for $43,795.
Models like the Series 1 through 3, Discovery and Range Rover all have crawled their way into the hearts of those who prefer to drive over a mountain than around it. But many Land Rover customers will never take their vehicles off-road. They do not need a hard-core machine with three locking differentials. That said, they do still want a vehicle with Land Rover’s trademark rugged styling, utility and luxury.
Enter the era of modern on-road Land Rovers that started with the Freelander in 1997, followed by the second generation LR2, and more recently, the addition of the swoopy Evoque. These models are designed to attack the urban jungle and will nary set a wheel on anything more extreme than a dirt road. Despite that, the LR2 is still equipped with Land Rover’s four mode terrain response control and the ability to wade in nearly 20-inches of water. It still is a Land Rover after all.
For 2013, the LR2 receives a substantial refresh. Gone is the old 3.2-liter inline-six that has been under the hood since 2006. It has been replaced by the same 240 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 found in the Evoque. This new engine develops 10 hp and 16 lb-ft more than the old six-cylinder, and despite all the plumbing and hardware required for the turbocharger, it also weighs 88 lbs lighter.
A six-speed automatic transmission sends power through an adjustable Haldex all-wheel drive system to all four wheels.
Mileage is officially rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the HSE trimmed LR2. That is a 2 mpg improvement in both categories over the outgoing 3.2-liter engine. Despite this, the LR2 still lags behind many of its competitors when it comes to fuel efficiency like the BMW X3 xDrive28i, Audi Q5 and even the six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. During a week of testing the LR2 returned an average of 19.5 mpg.
After just a short time behind the wheel, the extra power and refinement from the new engine can be felt. There is a moment of turbo lag from the 2.0-liter motor, but once on boost, it moves the crossover with authority. Land Rover claims a sprint of 0-60 MPH in 8.2 seconds which the LR2 feels more than capable of achieving. The engine is also more pleasant sounding than the BMW X3's turbocharged four-cylinder.
Despite being down a gear or two to most competitors, the Land Rover’s 6-speed gearbox is smooth and in sport mode, will fire off downshift fairly quickly. It is also capable of towing 3,500 lbs as long as it is a braked trailer.
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The focus of the LR2 is on-road performance and here Land Rover has succeeded. The vehicle is smooth, delivering a ride similar to the Mercedes-Benz GLK. With a chassis so capable of swallowing up road imperfections, it is a bit surprising that the LR2 still remains composed in the corners. It is not as sporty as the Infiniti EX37 or Audi Q5, but doesn’t suffer from their harsher rides either. Land Rover may have found the perfect chassis balance for the compact luxury crossover segment.
The 2013 refresh also includes stylistic updates inside and out with the headlights, taillights and daytime running lights all converted to LEDs this year. The optional 19-inch slanted fan-like rims are the only exterior styling element that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the crossover’s mostly unchanged boxy shape.
Inside, the 2013 LR2 receives a standard 7-inch color touch-screen display, dual sunroofs and leather seats. The Terrain Response dial has been replaced by buttons and the center console as a whole has been reworked. Materials used throughout the interior are a mix of good and bad. The steering wheel and switch gear feel premium and of good quality, but the dashboard and door coverings seem a bit down market for a $40,000 crossover. Modern tech items are absent too. There are no power sunshades for either of the sunroofs, no power liftgate, no blind spot monitoring system and no crash avoidance radar.
COMPETITION: Read our review of the 2013 Lexus RX350 F-Sport
Due to the LR2’s boxy shape and low beltline, sightlines are terrific and work with the standard dual sunroof to provide an airy cabin. The LR2 also sits high thanks to 8.26-inches of ground clearance that makes for a commanding view of the road, but trouble for shorter folks when it comes to ingress and egress.
For those interested in utilizing the 3,500 lbs towing capacity, the reverse camera features 'Hitch Assist,' which superimposes a hitch on the camera to show the position of the tow ball.
The 2013 Land Rover LR2 starts at a price of $37,250 while the HSE we tested checks in at $43,795 thanks to options like navigation, those 19-inch wheels and a cold weather pack.
Placing it right into the heart of the compact luxury crossover market, the LR2 matches up well against its competitors in most categories like size, content and performance.
Aside from its one major fault, fuel efficiency, the LR2 truly is an alternative to the usual European crossover suspects. Plus, it carries an off road pedigree none of the other’s can match.