2013 Land Rover LR2

MONTREAL, Quebec — It has often been said that Land Rovers are the Swiss Army knives of the automotive world, albeit it with a British accent. You can rock climb, go for a leisurely drive, wade through bodies of water or just sit in your own driveway listening to classical music through orchestral hall-quality speakers…all in the comfort of your own vehicle. This was emphasized  in Montreal and northern Quebec driving the 2013 Land Rover LR2.

Completely updated for the 2013 model year, LR2 joins the Range Rover Evoque in the company’s stable, thus giving it two entries in the evolving premium compact SUV market. Among LR2’s targeted competitors are Audi Q5, BMW X3, Honda CR-V, Volvo XC60 and the VW Tiguan. Each is a power in its own right so Land Rover had to feel confident with its entry to compete in that battleground.

The design is gorgeous, perhaps best described as aerodynamically-rectangular. By that I mean it obviously couches its occupants in a cocoon-like structure, but the body design slices cleanly through the wind. Its grille and fog lamp bezels now sport a bright finish and paint detailing changes to the front grille surround, insert bars and fender vent harmonize the different elements.

With Xenon and LED technology the front and rear lamps have been revamped, giving the LR2 a new look set off with a new signature design graphic in the front running lights.

The narrow A-pillars make for excellent all-round visibility. The short front and rear overhangs and high underbody are essential for the vehicle’s off-road performance. Body-side protection guards against stone chips and helps keep the sills clean. Maximum rear axle ground clearance is 10.5” while the front axle’s is 8.3 inches. As if the vehicle isn’t dressy enough, Land Rover has added three new body colors: Aintree Green, Havana and a beautiful Mauritius Blue.

As handsome (probably a better choice of words) as the 2013 LR2 is, it’s the mechanical side that really makes this a force to be reckoned with. It’s powered by a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque (at only 3,200 rpm).

The powerplant is 10 horsepower and 16 pound-feet of torque more than the 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated inline six-cylinder engine that it replaces. Furthermore the new engine is 88 pounds lighter.

Mated to an Aisin AWF21 six-speed automatic transmission engineered with advanced neutral logic control to reduce internal drag when the vehicle is stationary gives it an EPA-estimated mileage figure of 24 miles per gallon (highway). The transmission is coupled to a full-time four-wheel drive system featuring a Haldex rear axle differential.

To just say the LR2 is capable is to say Robert De Nero is a decent actor. Whether it’s over the woods or through the river the LR2, as well as all its company siblings, will get you there. The Terrain Response System is one of the core Land Rover technologies that gives the vehicle its outstanding range of capabilities. It adapts the response of the vehicle’s engine, gearbox, center coupling and chassis systems to match the demands of the terrain, thus optimizing drivability and comfort as well as maximizing traction.

Even though Terrain Response works continuously, the driver can select special programs such as grass, gravel, snow, mud, ruts and sand. If you want to 
“play boats,” the maximum water wading depth is 19.7 inches.

LR2 has one of my favorite technologies: Hill Descent Control. It automatically restricts speed downhill using the anti-lock brake system and improves driver control on slippery descents. It’s automatically engaged on appropriate Terrain Response programs.

Hand-in-hand with the capabilities technology is the driving dynamic. As awesome as the LR2 is when there’s not a civilized road in sight it’s just as good a machine on paved roads. It offers an all-day ride so the prospect of driving it for hundreds of miles per day isn’t daunting whatsoever. It has a fully-independent suspension system with four corner coil-sprung struts, front and rear anti-roll bars that offer high levels of body roll control, a 2.6 lock-to-lock turning ratio and it sits on 18-inch alloy wheels and tires.

The 2013 LR2’s upgraded interior boasts a host of new features. Every trim level (LR2, LR2 HSE and LR2HSE LUX) comes with grained leather covered electric seats (standard), standard dual sunroofs, a new instrument cluster with a five-inch screen displaying primarily vehicle-related information sits between the dials and complemented steering wheel toggle switches operate the clearest of drop down menus and vehicle set-up details.

A new “Say What You See” voice activation system prompts the driver visually with commands needed to speak in order to control functions in the audio, optional satellite navigation and phone systems. Prompts are displayed in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format on the screen. As good as the navigation system already was it’s now been vastly improved.

The “orchestra hall” mentioned earlier comes via two Meridian audio systems. The standard is a system equipped with a new 7-inch color touch screen, 380 watts of power and 11 speakers. Audiophiles will think they’ve died and gone to Indiana with the optional system. It’s made up of an 825 watt surround sound 17-speaker with Trifield technology that provides a natural, enveloping concert-like experience for all occupants. There’s also plenty of space to bring your stuff; with the rear seats folded there’s 58.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

Considering its massive content the pricing on the 2013 LR2 is in the ballpark. MSRP for the base LR2 is $37,250; $39,750 for the LR2 HSE and $42,350 for the LR2 HSE LUX.  

When reflecting on the capabilities of the LR2 the first thought that comes to mind is a paraphrasing of an old adage: “You take the high road and I’ll take NO road; and I’ll be there safely before ye.”

— Al Vinikour