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Land Rover Officially Launches LR2 To Replace Freelander

Inside Line

(Photo courtesy of Land Rover)
Bigger inside and out, the Land Rover LR2 should be a big improvement over the mediocre Freelander it's replacing.

LONDON — Land Rover has launched the new LR2 at the British International Motor Show. This compact SUV is a replacement for the Freelander, which was the most successful model in Land Rover's history. The newcomer will continue to be known as the Freelander in Europe, but in the U.S. it will be called the LR2, in keeping with its positioning below the LR3 in the Land Rover lineup.

The car is all-new and blends the soft-roader feel of the original Freelander with the utilitarian chunkiness of the much larger Range Rover Sport. Launched in a provocative "hot orange" paint scheme, it promises to appeal to a new audience without offending traditional Land Rover owners.

It's only 2 inches longer overall than the compact old model, but by moving the spare wheel from the trunk door to the underfloor and improving the packaging, Land Rover has been able to liberate considerably more passenger space. Four adults can now sit in comfort, and trunk space — an old Freelander bugbear — is up 38 percent.

No less important are the improvements to the interior quality. Gone are the cheap and nasty plastics of the old model, replaced by rubberized switchgear. Many of the controls are shared with the larger LR3 and the whole cabin has an upmarket, big-car feel. Land Rover is determined to target the premium compact SUV market with this car.

The LR2 will initially be offered in the U.S. with a 3.2-liter straight six engine, which Land Rover shares with Volvo. It offers 230 horsepower and 234 pound-feet of torque. This represents a 30 percent improvement over the old-generation V6, while fuel consumption has dropped by 10 percent. The 0-60-mph time is now a sedan-like 8.4 seconds.

The fully independent suspension has been designed to deliver responsive on-road performance, while Land Rover's trick Terrain Response system provides off-road prowess. Land Rover is claiming that the new LR2 will be best in class in the rough stuff.

The LR2 goes on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of next year, with prices around 15 percent below those of the LR3.

What this means to you: If the BMW X3 isn't your kind of upscale compact SUV, the LR2 will finally offer an acceptable alternative.
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