You could technically call the 2008 Land Rover LR2 a crossover, as it carries its SUV-like body on a smooth-riding independent suspension. But the LR2 comes with Land Rover's Terrain Response System and some pretty good off-road stats, such as 8.3 inches of ground clearance and the ability to wade through 19.7 inches of water. We were also pleased to see that Land Rover seriously upgraded its cabin electronics for the LR2 over what we've seen in other Land Rover models.
The LR2 shows many of the design cues of its bigger brothers. The roof of the cargo area lifts a little, similar to the LR3. Engine vents in the front fenders mimic that of the Range Rover. And the grille has a similar crosshatched metal look as the Range Rover's. The LR2 shows off its Land Rover make well, even if you can see the top of the car while standing next to it.
With the LR2, Land Rover brought its electronics into the 21st century. The exquisite Alpine stereo plays MP3 and WMA CDs, and includes an auxiliary input. Past Land Rovers showed no compatibility with digital music. Although the navigation system still isn't integrated with other car systems, it presents a very nice interface similar to what we saw on the Jaguar XK Coupe. The Bluetooth cell phone integration works almost as well as what we saw in the BMW 328xi. Best of all, our fully loaded review car came in under $40,000.
Test the tech: Supreme Court of Sound
We noticed prominent speakers mounted to the D pillars in the cabin of the 2008 Land Rover LR2 and figured this car must have an impressive stereo. A look at our spec sheet showed that the stereo is an Alpine 12 channel 440-watt Dolby ProLogic II 7.1 surround sound system with 12 speakers. A turn of the volume knob verified that this stereo would require some expert judgment. So we called in our Supreme Court of Sound, our golden ears, CNET MP3 player editors Donald Bell and Jasmine France, and Download.com Music editor Kurt Wolff.
Jasmine and Donald judged the backseat sound. Jasmine said, "the music was bright and bassy overall, but I got a lot of high-end detail and clarity." Donald commented on how he could feel the bass from the subwoofer through the back of the seat, yet it still felt restrained. Donald pointed out that "the sound was rich and balanced and I was surprised at how much detail I could pick out in the music." Kurt noted, "In the front seat, the separation was pretty intense, more so than I ever get on my home stereo; the bass seemed a bit weak up front and far stronger, bigger, and roomier in the back."
The Court was generally impressed with the audio quality, although at high volume they pointed out that it was potentially too bright. The Court's critical ears gave the audio quality an overall rating of 7.5, a respectable rating.
In the cabin
As we would expect for a Land Rover, the cabin of the LR2 is luxurious, with quality materials and good fit and finish throughout. But we wouldn't necessarily expect this comfortable of an interior from a car with a base price of $34,700--from that perspective the LR2 was off to a good start
The LR2 includes a nice list of standard cabin features, such as leather seats, a front power sunroof, a fixed sunroof over the rear seat, and dual zone climate control. To start the car, the key fob must be inserted into a slot in the dashboard, at which point you can push the engine start button.
Our LR2 came with the $3,500 Technology Package, which adds navigation, the premium stereo mentioned above, and Bluetooth cell phone integration. Besides a few minor issues, we like this set of electronics. We would prefer if there were better integration between these systems--as it is, the LCD at the top of the stack only shows navigation, while a radio display set lower is used to show audio and phone information. It would be nice to see audio tracks and phonebook entries on that nice, roomy LCD.
For MP3 players, there is an auxiliary audio input placed conveniently at the back of the center console, making it easy to keep the patch cable clear of the driver's space. Another interesting feature of the Technology Package is the rear seat audio controls set at the back of the console. These controls let rear seat passengers plug in headphones and control any CDs in the changer.