2013 Land Rover LR2
2013 Land Rover LR2
2013 Land Rover LR2. Click image to enlarge

Story and photos by Justin Pritchard

There are over a dozen ways to spend $40,000 or $50,000 on an SUV or crossover – and the Land Rover LR2 is the most British amongst them. The entry-level model in the automaker’s lineup, this compact ute competes with the RDX, GLK 350, Q5, EX37 and the like.

As a Land Rover, it’s a knack for actual off-road capability and a long-lived reputation for rough-terrain performance that set the LR2 apart. In the same way that ‘pure’ brands like Lamborghini and Ferrari only build sports cars, Land Rover only builds classy 4x4s. It’s all they do, and they’ve built plenty of experience and expertise into their LR2.

Admittedly, in real life this isn’t a machine likely to see surface conditions worse than a gravel road or snow-covered highway – though the LR2 will prove capable when pushed through some heavy off-road work by the small percentage of owners who partake in such activities. The LR2 lacks low-range and differential lock – two vital must-haves for hardcore off-roaders – though owners not hell-bent on climbing a mountain or crossing a mud-hole should find no issues with traction or off-road performance.

That’s thanks in no small part to the slick electronics.

Key among these is the Terrain Response system activated by arrow buttons just aft of the shifter. This allows drivers to dial in various settings including Sand and Mud Ruts, instantly recalibrating various systems for optimized off-road performance.

In Mud Rut mode, the traction control backs off, allowing plenty of regulated wheelspin to keep the LR2 moving without digging in. The Sand mode keeps the transmission in first or second gear, shifts rarely, and helps keep a steady stream of power flowing to all four wheels to avoid sinking. Each mode results in a different feel, and I noted no issues with traction – even through an assortment of terrain most owners won’t subject their machine to.

2013 Land Rover LR22013 Land Rover LR22013 Land Rover LR2
2013 Land Rover LR2. Click image to enlarge

The system defaults to a fully automatic mode upon vehicle startup that’s sufficient for general use. With the traction-optimizing electronics and highly assisted steering, the LR2 provides a stress-free effortlessness when tackling challenging turf. You feel the machine doing the work for you, so you can focus on navigation and, perhaps, taking in the scenery. And since there’s plenty of ground clearance and suspension travel, scraping the underside of the machine is a virtual non-issue if you keep your selection of off-road trails reasonable.

I never felt at risk of puncturing the oil pan with a rock, ripping off an air-dam on the edge of a rut, or having to call a friend for a yank out of the slop. The tight turning circle and good all-around visibility make the LR2 easy to park at Costco, but also a cinch to maneuver around logs and rocks and boulders and other potential hazards you’d rather avoid on the path ahead. Here’s a machine that’s sized and calibrated ‘just right’ to be easily placed where you need it to go.

End of the day, after two afternoon off-road jaunts in the LR2, I can’t think of any other machine in the segment that I’d rather take on an off-road adventure.

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