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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