AT THE WHEEL REVIEWS: TRUCKS
2008 Land Rover LR2: Poor Man's Land Rover?
By Les Jackson Cruise Control Radio.com
I found the LR2 – sort of a "poor man's" Land Rover - to be a very nice vehicle overall. My test LR2 came in Zermatt Silver (I've been to Zermatt, Switzerland and have no idea why the color is called so, but what the heck) with a black leather interior. The exterior is your basic box-with-wheels and carries on the traditional Land Rover appearance. Inside, everything is tastefully done and, well, properly British.
Once inside and tucked into the seats I found the noise level, or lack thereof, to be extremely pleasant, no doubt aided by the double-sided outer body panels and thick glass. There was no hint of wind noise and the ride is solid. No twisting, leaning or body-bending characteristics are evident, although when you shut the door with the window down there's a little rattle (I have a feeling that this is true of most vehicles but it's so seldom that I close a door with the window down that I can't say. I've made a note to do so on all my press vehicles.)
I found the seats to be a little uncomfortable in the adjustment area. I couldn't quite find a suitable arrangement and even though the seat back was raked pretty far to the rear my head was pushed by the head restraint. I'm sure a decent position could be found eventually – and the 95-degree heat and humidity cut way down on my patience – so it's probably not a big deal. More to the point was the audio system. I found the radio controls to be a bit complex and non-intuitive. In an attempt to make the system as full-featured as it is the engineers also made it difficult to "divine" how to use it. A trip to the owners' manual was necessary to figure it out and I don't think that should be necessary. Also, the digital display is virtually impossible to see while wearing sunglasses.
It seems everyone is using a Start button these days and the LR2 has one on the front of the dash top surface. You have to put your remote key fob into a slot that draws it into the dash fascia like a CD changer on a computer, after which you can hit the start/stop button and be on your way. I think this sort of thing is gimmickry meant to appeal to the "geek generation," and it's always a source of concern to me how reliable these things are in the long run.
It’s not a drag
Aside from the minor annoyances I found the LR2 to drive very well. It feels lighter than it is and the all-wheel-drive system doesn't give you a sense of drag that so many other AWD vehicles do. Its inline 6-cylinder engine displaces 3.2 liters and puts out 230 horsepower, enough to feel competent but not so much that fuel is guzzled at too great a rate. It gets 16 in the city and 23 on the highway, not bad for a relatively heavy (4200 pounds) SUV. The drivetrain continues through an Aisin-Warner six-speed automatic with Normal, Sport and CommandShift modes and from there into an "intelligent" all-wheel-drive utilizing Haldex coupling technology. This is a Swedish system that uses a hydraulic pump driven by the slip between axles in which the housing and annular piston are connected to one shaft and a piston/actuator to the other. The shafts are connected together through a multi-plate clutch pack and everything is controlled by a throttle valve an associated electronics.
Electronic traction control is standard, of course, and the braking system incorporates electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, cornering brake control, roll stability control, hill descent control and, well, suffice to say that the LR2 is extremely stable and won't let you get yourself into trouble.
Should someone else get you into trouble there are a host of safety systems to keep you intact, from seven airbags to pretensioners to body crumple zones and many, many others. The dual-zone climate control keeps you very comfortable and it managed to cool down the vehicle in sweltering heat time after time. I particularly enjoyed using the "lazy open" feature on the key fob during those hot days, as I could power all the windows down from outside to help remove the trapped heat while parked.
Specifications: 2008 Land Rover LR2
Curb Weight: 4200 LBS.
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