As one would expect given Land Rover's off-roading heritage, the LR2 is the mountain goat of the premium compact crossover segment. Now in its sixth year on the market, the little ¬Ďute isn't quite as compelling as more modern rivals when it comes to day-to-day driving, although a refresh for the latest model year helps in this regard.
Wearing essentially the same understated duds as last year's model, the new LR2 has only reworked headlights, taillights and trim to allow eagle-eyed observers to identify it as the refreshed model. Clearly, the Range Rover Evoque is still the looker in Land Rover's small crossover lineup.
Thankfully, there are more substantive changes under the hood, where the thirsty 3.2-liter straight-six has been replaced with a more powerful and fuel efficient turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Sourced from former parent company Ford and paired with a carryover six-speed automatic, the new mill produces 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque and returns 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. In comparison, the old six was good for 232 horsepower, 234 lb-ft of twist and 15/22 mpg.
The update also stretched to the interior, which benefits from a streamlined center console with simpler, more elegantly arranged controls. The gauge cluster has also been redesigned with a new five-inch vehicle info screen, and the steering wheel features redesigned audio and cruise control buttons.
Overall, the revisions give the LR2's cabin a clean, contemporary feel. Like other Land Rovers, the LR2 offers an elevated driving position and plenty of window area for a good view of the world outside. It also features the company's "stadium seating" layout, where rear passengers sit slightly higher than front occupants, for increased visibility.
Cargo space measures 59 cubic feet with the rear seats folded and 26.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up, which is respectably commodious for a compact crossover.
Although the LR2 is often viewed as a road-focused crossover due to its carlike unibody construction, it offers a number of features geared specifically for off-roading. The ¬Ďute comes standard with Land Rover's unique Terrain Response system, which optimizes vehicle settings to maximize traction in different weather conditions and on manifold surfaces like grass, gravel, mud, sand and more. Additionally, all LR2 models leave the factory with all-wheel-drive and a Gradient Release Control system, which improves driver confidence and control when releasing the brakes on steep and slippery slopes.
These elements, along with 8.3 inches of ground clearance, make the LR2 perhaps the most off-road-ready small luxury crosover on the market, although it still can't quite match up to old-school SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler.
When the time comes to leave the trails behind, the LR2 is plenty refined on the pavement, although customers seeking dynamic handling might be better served by another crossover.
Trim Level Breakdown
The LR2 is offered in base, HSE and HSE LUX trim levels.
The base model LR2 comes standard with leather upholstery, power front seats, dual zone automatic climate control, a two-part panoramic sunroof, a proximity key, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive front lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers and rear park distance control. Audiophiles will appreciate the 17-speaker, 380-watt Meridian AM/FM/CD sound system, which is new for the latest model year. It features HD radio, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
The HSE brings a rearview camera, Xenon headlights with LED running lights. The HSE LUX adds an upgraded 825-watt Meridian stero along with softer, more supple Windsor leather upholstery.
Options include a DVD-based navigation system with a touch-screen display and a Climate Comfort package with heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated windshield-washer jets.
All LR2 models come equipped with dual front, side and full-length side curtain airbags along with a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems, electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist.
The LR2 competes against a number of more powerful and fuel efficient small crossover rivals like the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60.