2010 Land Rover LR2
2010 Land Rover LR2. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Land Rover LR2

The old saying goes that familiarity breeds contempt. That may be so in some circumstances, but in my case, familiarity has bred content. I’d never really been on Land Rover’s radar, and so only viewed these chunky – and to my eye, clunky – vehicles at auto shows, or the few times I saw one on the road. Having spent some seat time in them, including the smallest of the bunch, the 2010 LR2, I’ve come to appreciate the brand, which combines rough-and-ready off-road ability with some seriously luxurious interior touches.

Whether I’d actually buy one might be more up in the air: they also have a well-earned reputation for gremlins, and indeed, my LR2 was the first Land Rover I’d driven where everything worked for the full week – rather ironic, given that it was also my least-expensive tester. Still, if you have faith in the warranty, this is a sweet machine among compact sport utility vehicles.

2010 Land Rover LR2
2010 Land Rover LR2. Click image to enlarge

Overseas, the LR2 is known as the Freelander 2. In Canada, it comes only in the well-equipped HSE trim line, starting at $44,950. Mine was one of only fifty produced for 2010 as a Sport Limited Edition vehicle. My tester included all sorts of options, including exterior body kit, unique 19-inch “diamond-turned” wheels, two-tone leather seats, navigation system, Dolby surround-sound system, metallic trim, and any colour I wanted, providing it was either Lago Grey or my tester’s Santorini Black. The final tally was $53,170 before taxes and freight. It’s a lot of money, but then, that’s the nature of the brand.

It uses a 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder, producing 230 horsepower and 234 lb-ft of torque, mated strictly to a six-speed automatic that includes manual shift mode. These straight-line engines are typically very smooth, and the LR2 is no exception. It snaps sharply off the line, but with a portly curb weight of 1,930 kilograms (4,255 lbs), it gets a little flat as you go further up the speedometer. Once it hits its cruising altitude, though, it’s content to sail along easily, as it proved on a five-hour road trip. The official published figures are 14.1 L/100 km (20 mpg Imp) in the city and 9.1 (31) on the highway. Overall, with most of my driving on rural highways, I averaged 10.5 L/100 km (27 mpg Imp), with a recommendation for premium fuel.

2010 Land Rover LR2
2010 Land Rover LR2. Click image to enlarge

While it still has off-road chops, the LR2 is the “little brother” to its more rough-and-ready LR3 and Range Rover siblings (although, when you’re up at the top end, I wonder how many people actually take their $100,000-plus Rovers very far off the beaten path). It includes a version of their Terrain Response control, which can be dialed in to one of four optimal settings for general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, and sand; it automatically adjusts the traction control, stability program, throttle response and other systems for optimal performance in each situation. Hill descent control is also included, but there’s no low range. The four-wheel system is biased toward the front wheels, but it takes only a slight touch of wheel slip to get some of that torque heading toward the rear.

The steering isn’t all that sharp, but it’s a pleasant driver nevertheless. It feels exceptionally well-planted, even on a couple of highway stretches that could have earned me some serious discussion time with the boys in blue. The ride is smooth, but never squishy, and despite its height, there’s very little leaning into the corners. The brakes bring it down from speed with confident pedal feel, albeit with a bit of nosedive on hard stops. It’s easy to spin it around tight parking lots, but while there’s a sonar warning when backing up, a back-up camera is not available, even when the navigation system is ordered.

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