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2015 Land Rover LR2 Introduction

Ever since they first appeared, way back in 1948, Land Rovers have been renowned for their ruggedness and off-road prowess. But perhaps what's most impressive about the 2015 Land Rover LR2 is just how well it behaves when mud becomes tarmac, the roads twist and turn and the driver demands sportiness, rather than its famous aptitude for traversing boulders.

LR2 is Land Rover's entry-level SUV, but you still get plenty of styling and luxury. Built with unibody construction, LR2 seats five, and sits below the Land Rover LR4 and the upscale Range Rover products. Very popular in the UK, relatively few LR2s are sold in the U.S. The LR2 is being phased out to make way for the upcoming Land Rover Discovery Sport.

New Black Pack and Silver Pack option groups are available for 2015, including upgraded 19-inch wheels, hard-disc navigation, and special exterior/interior design elements. A new audio upgrade is offered: an 825-watt 17-speaker Meridian surround-sound system, packaged with SiriusXM and HD radio.

Beneath the LR2 hood is a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with high-pressure direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, lifted from the Range Rover Evoque. Output is rated at 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque (derived at low engine speed), driving a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 17/24 mpg City/Highway.

Three models are available, LR2, HSE, and HSE LUX. Even the basic LR2 is abundantly equipped, boasting such features as grained leather seat upholstery, power front seats, a 380-watt Meridian sound system, and a dual-panel panoramic sunroof. The front section of the sunroof opens and slides over the glass panel that sits above the second row. The HSE LUX edition adds such extras as Windsor leather-covered seats with double contrast stitching.

The LR2 boasts an intelligent all-wheel drive system by Haldex. Terrain Response technology allows the driver to choose between four settings based upon the driving conditions faced (General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts, and Sand). All-terrain tires ride on 18-inch alloy wheels.

Off-road, the Land Rover LR2 handles practically anything, from impossibly steep descents, to river crossings and mud deep enough to drown a small dog. Powertrain components are protected from water intrusion up to a depth of 19.7 inches, using such devices as a remote transmission breather.

Hill Descent Control works with the antilock braking system to automatically restrict speed when easing down a steep grade. Gradient Release Control ensures that when you release the brake on an extremely steep hill, brake-line pressure is released progressively, not abruptly, as your foot eases off the pedal.

When the going becomes less rough, the LR2 keeps going. The ride feels firm and poised, and this British-brand SUV (actually built in India) exudes more agility and engagement than you would expect from a machine that made its name from scaling mountains. In sport mode, the transmission is programmed to hold lower gears longer and to downshift more readily, to improve acceleration.

No one-trick pony, the LR2 Is a compact SUV that can do it all, but 2015 is its final season.

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