Land Rover’s chic Evoque is an attention-getter, but it’s not the only compact SUV in Land Rover’s stable. The company still makes the LR2, formerly know as the Freelander, which offers a more traditional (and more generic) take on the small 4×4. The LR2 gets what Land Rover calls a “premium overhaul” for 2013.
Over the years, the original Freelander’s styling has morphed to accommodate Land Rover’s new styling cues. The 2013 LR2 continues that trend with some slight tweaks; only current LR2 owners will be able to spot the differences. It gets new LED headlights with detailing that vaguely echoes the Evoque’s and LR4’s. The grille also gets some extra brightwork, and the 17-inch wheels have been redesigned.
The real news is under the hood. The 2013 LR2 gets the Si4 GTDi 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four from the Evoque. Despite being smaller than the 2012 LR2’s 3.2-liter inline-six, the new four-banger is more powerful (240 hp and 260 lb-ft versus 230 hp and 234 lb-ft).
With two fewer cylinders, the new engine should also be more efficient. The current LR2 returns 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway in EPA testing. The Si4 returns 19/28 mpg city/highway in the slightly lighter Evoque.
The 2013 LR2 also gets a few interior upgrades as well. A redesigned center console features a seven-inch touch screen, and owners can crank tunes through a new sound system from Meridian.
The LR2 jumps on the voice recognition bandwagon with Land Rover’s “Say What You See” system, which uses visual prompts for drivers to select with voice commands. Other convenience features include “passive start,” which allows drivers to start the car remotely (the LR2 doesn’t even have a conventional ignition key) and an optional rear view camera.
These changes should keep the 2013 LR2 fresh, but will they make it a competitive entry in the luxury small SUV segment? Unlike the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Audi Q5, the LR2 has the off road abilities of a Land Rover. Unfortunately, so does another compact SUV.
The LR2’s nemesis may be the Evoque. Despite its less-butch looks, the Evoque has proven to be a competent off-roader. Under the skin, the LR2 and Evoque are very similar; they share a chassis (and now) an engine. However, The Evoque’s styling definitely makes more of an impression; it’s the perfect fashion item for Westchester or Los Angeles, where most of these SUVs dwell anyway.
The LR2’s upright roof makes it slightly larger, and much easier to get in and out of. So it makes more sense for families or people who want to use their SUV for more utilitarian purposes. In other words, the 2013 LR2 is the sensible counterpart to the Evoque.