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Weidel on Wheels: Land Rover LR2 enjoys the city life

Small crossover still hangs on to its off-road heritage
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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The name Land Rover used to mean just that — a vehicle that let virtually nothing stand in its way as it plowed over land masses and treated obstacles like minor annoyances.

It was a tremendous vehicle for off-road enthusiasts and certainly earned its tough-guy reputation.

While the reputation remains, Land Rover has changed with the times, at least marginally.

These massive vehicles can still be purchased, yet Land Rover is also making products with more mass appeal, hence the introduction of the LR2 in 2008.
Although the days of taking on rugged terrain are still considered Land Rover trademarks, the LR2 can serve other purposes as well.

There are no excessive glances by other drivers when behind the wheel of the 2009 LR2. This small luxury crossover sport utility vehicle can anonymously drop off the kids at school in the morning, and perform the daily commute into work without anyone wondering when the next boulder will be scaled.

Created more for pavement life, the LR2 sports a somewhat modest 3.2-liter, inline-six engine with 230 horsepower. That combination will only have the LR2 going 0 to 60 mph in a tepid 9.3 seconds.

Yet the LR2 can still manage some off-road feats, like driving through water up to 19 inches deep. The LR2 provides a respectable 8.3 inches of ground clearance, has standard all-wheel drive and a terrain response system.

Still, the LR2 resides in the competitive crossover class and doesn’t match up to some of the heavy hitters, such as the Mercedes GLK-Class, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and the Infiniti EX35.

The LR2 has only average acceleration, doesn’t supply good handling on pavement, and the cabin is lacking in some elements that its rivals possess.

The LR2 takes its underpinnings from the Volvo S40, a Ford product. Yet that is where the comparison stops. The LR2 has a generous amount of standard features, has advanced technology, provides a comfortable ride and offers off-road capability that no crossover can match.

This Land Rover comes with a hefty price tag of $35,375 and has only one trim, the HSE (the SE trim was dropped for 2009). Gas mileage is not a plus either at 15 to 22 miles per gallon.

On the positive side, the LR2 features a low dashboard that allows for good visibility. The attractive interior has both wood and leather, while the control panel layout makes sense even though it’s a bit cluttered. The optional navigational system was easy to operate, which is a rarity.

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2009 Land Rover LR2

Price: Starting at $35,375

Mileage estimate: From 15 mpg city to 22 mpg highway

Power: 3.2-liter, inline-six engine with 230 horsepower
   
Standard features include: Antilock brakes; traction and stability control with a rollover sensor; 19-inch alloy wheels; a dual-panel sunroof; rain-sensing wipers; rear parking sensors; leather seating; power front seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; nine-speaker, Alpine stereo with a six-CD/MP3 changer and an auxiliary audio jack