For those who forgot, Land Rover, a former member of the Ford family, is now part of the Tata Motors clan, which bought it and Jaguar, to gain luxury SUVs and sedans and access to other markets.
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2009 Land Rover LR2
(price as tested; add $775 for freight)
M.P.G City 15 Highway 22
Wheelbase: 104.7 inches
Length: 177.1 inches
Engine: 3.2-liter, 230-h.p., inline 6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Excellent foul-weather roadability.
Holds five and lots of stuff.
On-demand AWD and all-terrain system that adjusts to sand or snow, mud or gravel.
Stability control and side curtains standard.
Stability control in only top-of-the-line version.
It has "intelligent" all-wheel-drive that directs torque to slipping wheels to ensure solid footing and adjusting torque to on- or off-road conditions.
LR2 also comes with a novel all-terrain response system as standard that adjusts engine, transmission and chassis to different conditions to maximize traction, comfort and drivability. The settings are pavement, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts or sand. This in an LR2 that can ford 19.7-inch streams. We didn't tiptoe through streams but had ample chance to run on, over, in, around and through snow; LR2 never wavered.
The SUV sits high for off-road clearance, but there's no top-heaviness in curves or corners and no problem managing heavy or hard-packed snow.
The LR2 also comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, Hill Descent Control to automatically brake on steep grades to control speed, traction and stability control to minimize wheel slip on acceleration and stay the course in slick conditions and roll stability control to keep from going wheels side up in sharp curves.
The LR2 is powered by a 3.2-liter, 230-horsepower inline 6 teamed with 6-speed automatic. Lots of spirit. Quick and quiet. But muscle mauls mileage—15 city, 22 highway.
The cabin has decent room to stretch and well cushioned and supportive leather seats (heated front). Rear-seat legroom is adequate, but adults or older teens might get the fidgets on long trips. Rear seat bottoms flip forward and backs fold flat to expand the cargo hold. Cargo space is ample, but a power tailgate would make access easier. Nada.
The LR2 came with a backup buzzer that warned when we got to too close to a bumper when parallel parking. No backup camera, however. Why see what you hit?
Nice touches include a power outlet under the armrest, dual sunroofs (power upfront, fixed in rear) with shades, push-button stop/start, radio controls in the steering wheel, a 12-volt socket in the cargo hold, front map lights, molded thermoplastic cladding to protect door sill and lower body from dents and scuffs, a thermoplastic undertray to deflect rocks and brush and a more substantial steel guard plate under the engine.
Bumpers are made of injection-molded polypropylene with scratch and impact resistance.
But you'd think you were piloting a space station with all the controls—buttons and dials—in the instrument panel, dash, console and steering column for: DVD-based navigation system, satellite radio, audio system, Bluetooth phone, all-terrain system, Hill Descent Control, radio and climate control. Sorry if we missed any, but thankfully the trio of cup/bottle holders in the center console require no buttons—this year, at least.
The LR2 starts at $35,375 with dual-zone automatic climate-control with humidity sensor and pollen filter, dual-panel sunroof, automatic headlamps and wipers, side-curtain air bags and driver's side inflatable knee bolster, front and rear fog lights, power headlight washers, Alpine AM/FM/CD stereo with a port for MP3 player and power seats/windows/locks/mirrors.
The $3,500 Technology Package adds navigation system, satellite radio, rear-seat audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity; light package adds $1,050 for Bi-Xenon headlamps and adaptive front headlights, puddle lamps, reading lamps and memory settings for the driver's seat and rearview mirrors; and cold-climate package adds $700 for heated windshield/washer jets and heated front seats.
What's next for Land Rover? New products? New image? Stay tuned.
Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Rides. Contact him at transportation@tribune .com.