May 1, 2014
2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony
Ever since the launch of the slinky Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover’s other compact SUV has been a bit of an afterthought. What’s that thing called again? Oh yeah, the LR2. Well, I’m here to tell you that the LR2 remains the better compact SUV, if not fashion accessory. It just goes to show what shoppers buying in this segment are interested in… Land Rover sells more than three times as many Evoques as LR2s (in North America at least).
But why is it better? Well, what we have here are two different wrappers for the same bubble gum. Both are powered by the same 2.0L turbo-four making 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. Although the Evoque gets a nine-speed automatic to the LR2’s six gears, both are outfitted with Land Rover’s Terrain Response four-wheel drive system with a Haldex rear diff and ride on Macpherson front strut suspension and multilink rear.
But then they start to grow apart as you look at the other dimensions. The LR2 is longer, wider and taller, giving it a substantial cargo and interior space advantage over its younger sibling. It doesn’t take much more than a glance to realize the LR2 will have headroom and outward visibility advantages, and in its own right the LR2 is reasonable for front and rear passenger space, even for adults in both rows. Plus, the fairly high ride height means a good view of the road ahead, with large, tall windows offering excellent visibility all around. And it actually has a rear window you can see out of – what a novelty!
Cargo space is a decent 756 L in the trunk alone, and opening up to 1,668 L with the rear seats folded. This isn’t just better than the Evoque, it also tops segment rivals like the Audi Q5 (550/1,600) and BMW X3 (540/1,560), though it doesn’t quite match the Volvo XC60 (872/1,909). It’s a conveniently square shape, with wells to either side of the main floor to tuck small objects into, but lacks any clever organizer solution like Volvo XC60’s flip-up bag-holder.
2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX front seats, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX rear seats, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX trunk, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX. Click image to enlarge
As its square looks would imply, the LR2 is a bit truckish when it comes to dynamics, but it is still a success story. There is quite a bit of suspension travel for off-roading articulation, but they also handle severe speed bumps quite nicely. I’ve seen both sides of the equation, as we took the LR2 (and the Evoque for that matter – it’s got some off-roading chops you wouldn’t expect from such a slinky little crossover) through a series of alternating ditches at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience. But in more typical use, the LR2 can soak up the sharp speed bump, but also bounces around a bit as the suspension has a touch of firmness in order to maintain some composure in turns, where it does roll a bit, but not excessively or uncomfortably.
However, there is one aspect of the LR2 that I found a little unsettling, and that was its power delivery. It’s an incredibly surge-y power plant. Delayed throttle response, then boost kicking in means you sometimes get launched midway through a corner in unexpected fashion. It’s fun, but sometimes disconcerting. Other than that lag and launch, the power was entirely adequate for a vehicle this size and the dynamics and steering spot on for a vehicle in this segment.
2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX dashboard, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX navigation, 2014 Land Rover LR2 HSE LUX centre stack. Click image to enlarge
Inside the LR2, Land Rover has gone for a more utilitarian, industrial look with chunky knobs, conventional shifter, plain dash and straightforward gauges and controls. The analog clock was simple and oddly elegant with its unpretentious large, modern white numerals on black dial. A touch of glossy “Grand Black Lacquer” trim is classy but provides little relief from the monochromatic interior.
The touchscreen is a tad small and not the quickest responder, but menus are logically organized and it is an easy system to navigate. Manual controls are clearly labeled and it features just the right number of steering wheel controls for frequently used functions without turning into a mess of buttons.
Front seats were wide and somewhat flat, but proved comfortable in our week with the vehicle. I particularly enjoyed the height adjustable centre armrests and wide windowsills. What can I say, my arms like comfort. The step-in is unexpectedly high for a small SUV, but the rear seat height was perfect for buckling up wriggling toddlers without herniating a disc.