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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

Land Rover LR2

Land Rover has changed hands three times in the past 15 years. India’s Tata Motors owns it currently. The LR2 submitted for Mudfest precedes Tata ownership though, and originally debuted in 2006. Although the LR2 has received a couple of modifications and different motor options through its life, the vehicle is largely the same, sharing roots with many Ford and Volvo vehicles, including the previous-gen Ford Mondeo, Volvo S80, and S60.

Despite its origin in Ford's EUCD platform, the LR2 has its own unique Land Rover styling and interior appointments. The first thing we noticed as we got into the LR2 was its odd seating position (at least for a modern car). You sit very high, and our arms rested above the belt line by the window. Land Rover installs window switches right next to the windows. Needless to say, we found the layout to be quirky.

The LR2 has a seven-inch touchscreen navigation system with an integrated hard drive. There is no navigation knob or control system, which you can probably tell by now is something we've come to expect from luxury-class vehicles. That's a shame considering how much Land Rover charges for an LR2. Still, we had no problem getting the Land Rover navigation system working with our HTC Droid DNA smartphone or accessing music on the iPad.

Power for the LR2 comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged motor with direct injection. If that engine sounds familiar, you might be recognizing it as Ford's EcoBoost in the competing Escape. In fact, the motor is the last thing Land Rover's LR2 shares with Ford. This mates up to a six-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels. The Haldex AWD system normally operates in front-wheel drive mode during regular conditions. But, thanks to the Land Rover Terrain Response system, the LR2 is capable of much more off-road.

This system ties in with the engine, transmission, traction control, stability control, and center coupling. When one of the driving modes is selected, Terrain Response completely alters the vehicle's functions for optimum traction. There’s a general driving mode if you want to let the system work automatically, or grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, and sand modes when you already know what terrain you'll encounter.

We weren’t fond of how the LR2 rode on pavement at all. The odd seating position made the car feel like an SUV, but the driving dynamics were more car-like, which threw us off. The LR2 did much better on the dirt course, as we might have expected it to. All-wheel drive operated transparently, and we didn't have any understeering trouble when we pushed the vehicle. We'll say the LR2's on-road manners are unique. They aren't for everyone (including us).

When it comes to appearances, the LR2 looks like the rest of the Land Rover family's youngest sibling. There's nothing wrong with looking like a baby Range Rover, to be sure.

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle2013 Land Rover LR2
Trim levelHSE LUX
Engine2.0 L I4 GTDI EcoBoost (Turbo)
TransmissionSix-speed automatic
DrivetrainPermanent Intelligent AWD (Haldex)
InfotainmentLand Rover navigation
Notable featuresHill Descent ControlIntegrated hard driveRear park distance controlPush-button startTerrain Response System
Fuel economy17 city, 24 highway, 20 combined MPG
MSRP$48,295
  • Super_Nova
    Very slow newsweek
    Reply
  • flong777
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.
    Reply
  • Johnny_C13
    Well, at least the Grand Cherokee can (literally) run (on) Crysis... but I wonder if it starts faster with an SSD?
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10968917 said:
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.

    Its a great offroad vehicle for the price. The other two are capable vehicles, but the buyer demographic will never take them offroad.

    10969315 said:
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.

    Mechanical technology has its uses but the WWII Era vehicles are awful for comfort and driving feel. Not going to lie though, the G-wagen is one sexy beast IMO. The Wrangler is only a 6-speed auto iirc, but there's a company that offers HEMI conversions :D.

    10969432 said:
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.

    Toyota didn't submit any vehicles, disappointingly. Was hoping the 5th Gen 4Runner and new RAV4 would be there :(.
    Reply
  • joe gamer
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10969918 said:
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.

    Nothing wrong with an old Isuzu, before GM raped and pillaged them :(. Cars are so expensive nowadays, you're about as poor as I am, but add in two kids and a wife. The WRX has a nice manual because its a performance vehicle. Manuals in economy cars are usually sloppy. long throws and not very exciting, which is why I hate to say to get the auto in economy cars. But, the XV Crosstrek could probably be fixed with a short throw shifter, that usually does wonders.

    Reply
  • JPNpower
    Why are you using SUVs in the mud!!! These things belong in parking lots at the mall!
    Reply