by Joe LaMuraglia
Thursday, May 17, 2007 – Land Rover’s newest vehicle arrived at Gaywheels.com’s world HQ yesterday. The 2008 LR2 is Land Rover’s attempt at cracking the compact luxury SUV market after a dismal attempt a few years ago with the Freelander. The old car lacked refinement, power, quality and value. At first glance, the new LR2 addresses all the above and then some. It is good looking, feels solid and feels very much a Land Rover thus far.
My brother-in-law and his business parnter arrrived last night and I am taking this opportunity to shuttle them around in the baby Land Rover. We are all big guys and so far, it feels very roomy and comfortable. Both commented on the luxury feel and having experienced the Freelander first hand, are impressed with the LR2. I’m enjoying the seat time so far and will be making the trip to NashVegas tomorrow. I am curious to see how the new inline 6-cylinder and 6-speed transmission handle the hills and valleys of my weekly jaunt. More later.
Saturday, May 19, 2007 – I never seem to get out of Atlanta early enough to beat the traffic rush on I-75 North. As I sat in the crawling mass of autos heading out of the city, I took the time to examine the LR2 a bit more intently. The interior is quite nice with all the touch points feeling solid and worthy of a luxury brand. The controls feel nicely weighted and the ergonomics, for the most part, are spot on. I had some issue with the audio interface at first. It is placed too low on the dash to operate without taking your eyes off the road and navigating through the Sirius categories was a bit frustrating. I suppose once you program your favorite stations, you can cycle through easily with the controls on the steering wheel. I quickly forgot those issues when I put a CD in and the optional 440-watt Dolby Pro Logic II 7.1 surround-sound audio system came to life with 14 speakers. If you like your music, you won’t be disappointed. For you iPod fanatics, there is an input in the center console (one of the more logical places if you ask me).
Once I escaped the traffic, I settled into the drive and was able to test the LR2’s road manners. You sit very high in the LR2 which combined with a great greenhouse provides excellent visibility. It also makes you feel like you are in a larger vehicle. I was impressed with the smooth ride and how solid the LR2 felt at speeds considerably north of legal (I had to make up for lost time!). The seats are comfortable and the interior quiet – a perfect environment for your own personal concert – not that I would know anything about that. And no, don’t believe ANY of the truckers that were laughing at the big guy in the Land Rover singing away.
With one of the harshest criticisms of the old Freelander being the lack of power, Land Rover has made a big deal out of the new inline 3.2 liter 230 HP 6-cylinder engine. It is very smooth and provides enough power to stay ahead of traffic but don’t expect a rocket. I was impressed with the level of refinement on the highway but the 6-speed transmission hunted around the gears too much for my taste. If you are control freak like me, it does have a Sport mode as well as a manual mode which I used to tackle the long uphill grades heading to Nashville. The LR2 handled the hills with little effort and despite delivering an disappointing 20 MPG, the drive was quite satisfying. I have a feeling those numbers will be better with a more conservative driver.
I’ll be running errands (as usual) here in Nashville. More in a day or two.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 – We spent the weekend in Nashville cruising around, shopping for home essentials and meeting up with friends. The LR2 handled it all very well. It is small enough to navigate traffic and parking lots with ease yet roomy enough to handle three grown men and the booty from a trip to Target. You know how that goes..you go in for one thing and come out a few hundred dollars later. The latest excursion involved an ironing board and other necessities. With the split-fold rear seat, our passenger in the rear still had plenty of room. This isn’t anything that a small crossover from another brand couldn’t do but it is good to know that the folks at Land Rover understand our habits here “on the other side of the pond”.
They are coming to get the baby Land Rover tomorrow and honestly, I will be sad to see it go. It delivers on the luxury image, the utilitarian cargo configurations and although I didn’t test it, I am sure it can live up to the legendary off-road capabilities. The question is, do you need to spend $39,950 (price for our LR2) to get all that? The rational answer is NO. You can get a Ford Escape for thousands less. But at a base price of $34,700, the LR2 is competitively priced in luxury compact utility segment with a host of standard equipment. Calculate in the complimentary scheduled maintenance and it even sounds better. To put it into perspective, the aformentioned Ford Escape equipped in a similar manner to the LR2 we drove is $30,335. The question you have to ask yourself; is the Land Rover Brand name, legendary off-road capabilities, exclusive Terrain Response System and dealership experience worth the additional money? We think many of you will say YES.
2008 Land Rover LR2 SE
– Excellent visibility
– Solid build quality
– Perfect size for up to four people
– Luxury brand experience and image
– MPG at highway speeds could be better
– Ignition sequence a bit odd (see video)
– If you like sporty acceleration, the LR2 may feel a bit sluggish.
Land Rover is a gay-friendly company.