As many automakers do during new-product launches, land Rover lugged a competitive automobile to the sands the Morocco throughout the an initial press samplings of the all-new LR2 compact sport/utility. And a brave an option it was. After ~ I"d powered an LR2 end the handsome coastal dunes close to the 18th-century city of Essaouira, about 100 miles west the Marrakech, because that comparison my hosts invite me come climb directly into the wait rival. Or, rather, ~ above the rival. The competitor was a camel. Including an Alfa-Romeo GTV, the was just the second test automobile I"ve ever before driven that foamed at the mouth.

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To be fair, soil Rover plainly hadn"t lugged along specimens the Camelus dromedaries for comparo testing. However as mine slobbering, overinflated beast effortlessly brought me right into the same soft sand I"d just effectively tackled in one LR2, ns couldn"t help but do a couple of mental notes. Here we were, assembled ~ above the far side the a long stretch the rocky climbs and quintuple-bogey sand traps, terrain the acts together a kind of snooty nightclub bouncer come hold back conveyances the don"t belong. Most premium compact SUVs, biased together they space toward tarmac performance, would certainly never have actually been maybe to acquire here, past the online velvet rope. Yet the LR2 deserve to run v the camels in hostile settings like these, boasting the maker"s virtually magical Terrain an answer system, 8.3 inch of floor clearance, and also impressive approach and also departure angles (29 and also 32 degrees, respectively). This compact deluxe SUV is a bona-fide floor Rover.


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Europeans love the version the LR2 replaces, the outgoing Freelander, because that its scrappy personality and trim dimensions. American hated it because that the very same reasons. Thus, in producing a successor, soil Rover concentrated a to crawl eye on the needs and wants of the American market. The LR2 is roomier, plusher, an ext powerful, and more versatile 보다 the ill-loved Freelander (the old three-door variation is gone, too; the LR2 is a five-door only). No longer does the littlest soil Rover look choose it snuck ~ above the showroom floor from the hiking-shoe store throughout the street. With its clamshell hood, jeweled headlamps, chunky proportions, next air intakes, and slotted grille, the LR2 looks appropriate at home next come its LR3 and range Rover siblings.


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Like the Freelander, soil Rover"s first unibody vehicle, the LR2 attributes carlike monocoque construction. It"s a conspicuously stout package, though, crafted with even much more DP600 ultra-high-strength steel than the body-on-frame LR3. There"s a reassuring heft to the automobile the Freelander short (curb weight has actually climbed by more than 500 pounds). And the cabin is now usually worthy of the adjective "spacious," with plenty the room increase front because that shoulders and also elbows and, with the rear seats urgent down, roughly 59 cubic feet that cargo volume (the Freelander delivered under 47 cubic feet). Only in the behind seat go the LR2 still feel compromised: v a six-footer in the driver"s chair, one adult sit behind will need to settle because that economy-class accommodations. Towing capacity is up-to 3500 pounds (1000 pounds an ext than the Freelander).


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Mounted transversely under the hood-a layout enabled by the engine"s compact size-is a new, all-aluminum, 24-valve 3.2-liter inline-six occurred by Volvo. Basically the same mill the serves in the Volvo S80 sedan, the 3.2 it is intended 230 equines at 6300 rpm and 234 pound-feet at 3200-a quantum leap over the Freelander"s 174 horses and 177 pound-feet. The LR2 also covers the brand-new BMW X3 3.0si on speak (225 pound-feet), despite it can"t complement the Bimmer"s high-revving 260 horses. The LR2"s engine is smooth (credit that balanced inline-six layout) and refined and goes about its task without seeming emphasize (variable valve timing and variable input runners aid fatten the torque curve). Mated come a typical six-speed automatic (not the ZF crate from the LR3 however a new, compact Aisin Warner unit), that pushes the LR2 come 60 mph in a asserted 8.4 seconds.


The engine"s output feeds all four wheels through a full time four-wheel-drive mechanism codeveloped through Haldex. At the facility is one electronically managed coupling that can readjust torque flow practically instantly-within 15 levels of wheelslip-to the front or rear axles as needed (in normal roadway driving almost all speak is fed to the former wheels, but when required the device can completely reverse the split). Better still, the driver deserve to optimize the LR2 because that varying conditions via floor Rover"s brilliant Terrain an answer system. In enhancement to general Driving, there are setups for Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and also Sand. Just twist the cockpit knob and also Terrain response modifies the behavior of everything from the transmission to Hill lower Control, the electronic throttle, Dynamic stability Control, and more to store you walking strong. Nothing rather in the course has anything choose it.


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The LR2 also brims with digital watchdogs to assist keep you the end of trouble. In addition to the above-mentioned HDC and also DSC systems, on board are electronic Traction Control, edge Brake manage (enhances rear-end stability as soon as braking in turns), roll Stability regulate (if that detects too an excellent a role angle, applies outboard brakes as necessary to widen the rotate radius), and the just-unveiled Gradient relax Control-which on steep inclines helps release the brakes increasingly as the driver"s foot comes turn off the pedal. Every the systems occupational invisibly; all you have to do is drive.


Diehard off-roaders will note that, regardless of Terrain response and all the electronic caretakers, the LR2 lacks a two-speed transfer situation with low range. Unless you plan to tackle significant boulders and such, though, you probably won"t miss out on it. Over the aforementioned steep dunes, and through a foot-deep river-terrain many 4x4 owner won"t even try-the LR2 never faltered. For "regular extreme" driving-say, runs to the ski chalet and slow crawls come idyllic camping sites-the LR2 won"t even break a sweat.


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On tarmac, the LR2 display screens a confident, compliant ride cost-free of the harshness of few of its rivals, despite it most likely lacks your ultimate managing tenacity. Steering feeling is good, engine sounds space muted, and wind noise is minimal. Unequal the Freelander, this is no toy. The LR2 will certainly pamper you as well as anything in that is class.


Step right into the cockpit and, if you"re familiar with the company"s various other products, you"ll feel appropriate at home. The LR2 feels like a mini LR3; the dash has actually a similar sweep and also style, the window switches space in the same ar on height of the door sill, the inner door handles and also steering wheel space the same as offered in the LR3. The LR2 likewise shares the "stadium seating" that its enlarge sibling, the rear bench resolved slightly higher than the front seat for boosted visibility when sitting in back.


Land Rover has done a fine project of configuring the LR2"s standard and also optional devices lists. Simply one model-the SE-will be offered stateside. The $34,700 base price contains a generous help of great stuff: animal leather seats, a summary sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, one audio input because that MP3 players, behind park-distance control. Alternatives include a 14-speaker audio system with Dolby pro Logic II 7.1 surround and Sirius Satellite Radio, DVD satellite navigation, bi-Xenon adaptive headlights, and also heated seats. Check all the options boxes, and you"re looking at an MSRP the $39,950-about a grand more than the basic price the the brand-new BMW X3.


A comparison test beckons: In addition to the X3, the LR2 will face stiff competition indigenous the Acura RDX-and, with concerns over gas price still looming, an ext downsized deluxe SUVs are coming. At last, though, soil Rover"s supplying in the segment is an authentic soil Rover, a comfortable, capable, also aristocratic an equipment (unlike the Freelander, the LR2 will most likely draw countless buyers top top snob very nice alone). The it"s worthy that being pointed out in the exact same breath as the Arabian camel is a very an excellent thing indeed.


SCOUTING REPORTBefore the comparo, exactly how does LR2 stack up against its two key rivals?


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ACURA RDX

Base Price: $33,665Engine: 2.3L/240-hp/ 260-lb-ft turbo DOHC I-4Weight come Power: 16.4 lb/hp (mfr)EPA Fuel Econ: 19/23 mpgMax Cargo: 60.6 cu ftStrengths: Loaded with tech, including F1 paddle shifters, gutsy turbo four, performance-tuned Super managing All-Wheel Drive, optional rearview camera. Weaknesses: Tows just 1500 pounds, just 6.25 inches of soil clearance, carry out you really want a turbo-four SUV?Bottom Line: Non-conformist, cutting-edge choice, with plenty of performance and electro goodies to keep you busy.

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Base Price: $34,700 Weight come Power: 3.2L/230-hp/ 234-lb-ft DOHC I-6 Weight come Power: 18.5 lb/hp (mfr) EPA Fuel Econ: 18/24 mpg (est) Max Cargo: 58.9 cu ft Strengths: Smooth inline-six, classy inside and out, excellent Terrain an answer system. Weaknesses: an excellent but not great straight-line thrust, probably not together gifted on-road together its rivals. Bottom Line: Bona-fide off-road capabilities and also impressive luxury. Well balance of virtues.


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