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Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2

MONT TREMBLANT, QUEBEC ? In a nutshell, the 2013 Land Rover LR2 is all about new interior features and improved efficiency. It has to be because all you’ll find externally on this ‘completely updated’ compact SUV are new head and tail lamps. But wait; did I mention it’s also a better value?

The value part starts with a reduction in the base price of almost $5,000, now starting at $39,990 for the entry-level model, and going up to $48,200 for the top-of-the-line HSE LUX. That puts pricing at the lower end of the spectrum among premium compact SUVs from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo. And for forking over $5,000 less than the 2012 LR2, you get 10 additional horsepower (now 240), 16 additional pound-feet of torque (now 250) and better fuel economy. Preliminary EPA numbers rate the new LR2 at 8.4L/100 km highway, a considerable improvement over the 10.7 L of the outgoing model.

This improved efficiency comes via a new 2.0-litre, turbocharged inline four that replaces the 3.2-litre naturally aspirated inline six. It?s the Ford EcoBoost engine that saw its introduction to Land Rover in the Evoque in 2012. The engine is 40 kg lighter, and it?s still mated to a six-speed automatic. There?s considerable lag when stomping on the gas pedal from a stop, though the 1,775 kg SUV gets to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, two tenths quicker than the six-cylinder.

Interior refinements include leather power seats across the trim levels, and new gauges and centre console. Analogue gauges for the speedometer and tachometer still dominate the instrument cluster but between them there is now a five-inch screen that displays vehicle info like engine temperature, fuel level and other items. You can also leave the key in your pocket, as the LR2 now has Passive Start, with a push-button starter located on the dashboard, to the right of the steering wheel. A new feature that frees up some space between the front seats is an electric handbrake. Land Rover calls it an intelligent parking brake, as it automatically adjusts parking brake pressure to compensate for parking on a hill. Another handy feature for those with kids is that the parking brake cannot be released unless someone is sitting in the driver?s seat.

A central 7-inch colour touchscreen is now standard on all trim levels and it displays sound-system functions, as well as the optional navigation system. It?s also the display screen for the available rear-view camera. Shared with the Evoque is the Meridian entertainment system. There?s a 380-watt, 11-speaker system, and if you?re hard of hearing there?s an optional 825-watt system with 17 ? yes 17 ? speakers. Also available is the ?say what you see? voice activation system that visually prompts spoken commands on the screen, step-by-step, alleviating the need to memorise all the specific phrases.

The LR2?s full-time four-wheel drive is controlled by Terrain Response, a traction management system that taps into the engine management system, traction control, stability control, transmission, ABS and transfer case to provide the best possible traction in everything from the easiest to the most difficult terrain conditions. It has four settings, now selectable by push-button instead of the previous model?s dial. It?s a very intuitive system, with two buttons located below the gear shifter that scroll through four icons to distinguish the different four-wheel-drive modes.

On the road the LR2 is well behaved, with modest body roll through turns, and it?s as quiet and smooth as anything in this premium segment. Steering is well weighed and the vehicle has a robust, truck like feel to it, unlike some other unibody SUVs that return a sportier, more car-like experience. The driver?s seat, even in its lowest position, provides a high perch, which offers good forward visibility.

You?ve heard it so often that it has become clich?, but about 90 per cent of SUV owners will never venture into the nether regions of Canadian wilderness. Nevertheless, few vehicles exude off-road adventure like a Land Rover does, and as such, I?d really wished the off-road portion of our drive was longer and tougher than it was, though I guess it was representative of what the tenth-percentile owners might experience.

Selecting the mud/ruts mode for the short, yet challenging off-road course allows me to sample the LR2?s off-road potential, and it easily negotiates and clears a series of dirt moguls, with one wheel in the air more often than not. It is also equipped with speed-adjustable hill descent, which I test successfully by letting the LR2 leap off the edge of a scary-steep descent, in deep sand, with my feet off the pedals. If you are so inclined, it can also wade in water half a metre deep without repercussions.

Seventeen-inch wheels are standard on the base model, while trim levels from the SE on up come with 18 inchers. Safety features include seven airbags, roll stability control, emergency brake assist and corner brake control.

With its new powertrain, the 2013 LR2 is better equipped to handle the chaotic muddle of the urban jungle, using less fuel and spewing fewer emissions while maintaining the performance level of the outgoing model, as well as the off-road ability Land Rover is renowned for. It is currently at dealers.

Travel for freelance writer Costa Mouzouris was provided by the manufacturer. Email wheels@thestar.ca.

2013 Land Rover LR2

PRICE: $39,990 to $48,200

ENGINE: 2.0 L turbocharged I4

POWER/TORQUE (hp/lb.-ft.): 240/250

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic

FUEL ECONOMY (L/100 km): 8.4L/100km highway (EPA)

COMPETITION: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion, Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

WHAT?S BEST: Lower price, improved fuel economy without sacrifice in performance, great off-road capability.

WHAT?S WORST: Noticeable initial lag when accelerating hard from a stop.

WHAT?S INTERESTING:
It has more speakers than a Justin Bieber concert.

  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
  • Review: 2013 Land Rover LR2
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