2009 Land Rover LR2 Review

2009 Land Rover LR2 - Significant improvement.

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Land Rover, the company known for producing ultra-luxurious, tremendously capable, exclusive SUVs, created the premium compact SUV segment about seven years ago when their Freelander model began showing up on our shores.

Well, Freelander was not as successful as Land Rover expected and an all-new premium compact SUV, the LR2, was launched for the 2008 model year.

There's no doubt, the LR2 represents a significant improvement over its predecessor. Firstly, the LR2 is much more attractive as Land Rover styled it to look like a smaller version of the handsome Range Rover Sport. Secondly, the LR2 is roomier and more pleasing to drive than its predecessor.

For the 2009 model year, Land Rover has dropped LR2's base SE trim and added a new HST exterior styling package. Other modifications include new 19-inch wheels and some new interior finishes.

The LR2's curb appeal is quite impressive. I like LR2's watch-like headlamps and taillamps, along with the Range Rover Sport-like metallic side vents. LR2's lines are sharp, chiseled and appealing. It's a look that makes you want to know more.

Under LR2's attractive sheet metal is a car-based SUV using the underpinnings of the Volvo S40. And while LR2 was designed to be more of an on-road pleaser, it's no off-road teaser.

Instead, the LR2 is a fully-capable and confident 4x4 thanks to its 8.3-inches of ground clearance and magnificent and simple-to-use Terrain Response System. This technologically-advanced system will make the novice off-roader feel like an expert.

The four Terrain Response settings (General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand) can easily be accessed by turning a knob. In each setting, the system automatically adjusts Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes, and Hill Descent Control to maximize traction and stability.

LR2 makes driving on slippery pavement stress free. LR2 also includes large and powerful 4-wheel disc brakes and Roll-Stability Control. The only thing missing from LR2's off-road "toolbox" is a low-speed transfer case.

Still, I doubt that you'll see LR2 buyers trying to traverse rugged terrain. Powering the LR2 is a refined 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 230 horsepower. It's mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that provides both "Sport" and "Manual" modes.

The combination provides adequate acceleration and quiet operation, but LR2 doesn't deliver the lively acceleration that some of its competitors do.

And while the on-road ride is mostly pleasing, LR2 is not quite as agile as some of its competitors. I experienced a fair amount of body roll while navigating twisty country roads.

The LR2 offers a very luxurious cabin. Materials utilized inside LR2's cabin are very nice. Seating is upright and provides a commanding view of the road, plus there's plenty of head and leg room in front and back.

But I digress. Cargo space is a bit small and I'm not a fan of LR2's keyless starting. There's a "fob-socket" that swallows the fob prior to starting and ejects its after turning the engine off. I think Land Rover should do away with this and let the driver leave the fob in a pocket or handbook.

The standard Alpine audio system is very nice and those in cold climates will appreciate the optional Cold Climate Package along with its heated windshield.

The LR2, while not for everyone, is handsome and luxurious, and it delivers a likable on-road ride along with being more than capable on slippery pavement or fairly rugged terrain.