In theory, the Land Rover Evoque occupies much the same market niche as the Land Rover LR2, yet the crossover coupe outsold its more practical brother by a margin of nearly three-to-one last year. This is in large part a credit to the loveliness of the Evoque, as it won an All Star from us in 2012. But the unlikely sales disparity also speaks to the shortcomings of the Land Rover LR2.
To be frank, the LR2 feels like a cheap knock off of a Land Rover. The interior features mostly hard plastic panels that don't always meet precisely, not to mention some of the least convincing wood trim I've seen in a while. The analog clock in the center stack wiggles if you touch it. I appreciate some of the convenience features, particularly the heated windshield and steering wheel (it's cold here), plus the navigation system, but the extra cost brings the LR2's price up to $44,200, at which point there are many nicer alternatives. In fact, there are crossovers from mainstream brands -- the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport leaps to mind -- that offer nicer cabins for less money.
All this is a pity, because the LR2 has a lot of potential. Much as I enjoy the Evoque's funky design, I could see many buyers preferring the LR2's more practical cabin and vastly better visibility. Indeed, as I crawled through a parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor, I thanked my lucky stars for the LR2's excellent seating position and abundance of glass. The turbo four-cylinder, new to the LR2, feels plenty gutsy and makes the little Landie that much more pleasant to drive through the urban slog.
We're still not talking about any kind of enthusiast vehicle, but the Land Rover LR2 more than meets the requirements of the typical crossover owner. The fact that the LR2 looks very much like a traditional Land Rover (on the outside, at least) should also have broad appeal. If Land Rover properly dressed the LR2's dashboard, I think it would find plenty of new customers without at all hurting the sales of the sensational Evoque.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
As a crossover, the Land Rover LR2 is a decent vehicle. As a Land Rover, it's lacking. I drove it with my husband to the Michigan golf show over the weekend -- a 30-mile drive, mostly freeway -- and the LR2 delivered a rather unexceptional journey. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Visibility is good, the ride is OK, and the engine is sufficiently lively to keep up with 80-mph traffic.
We got to the show and ran into someone we know, and she asked me what car I was driving. My husband (who had clearly not paid any attention to what kind of a vehicle we were in, as usual), said something like, "Oh, she's just driving a cheap car this weekend." "What? That's a Land Rover," I said to him. "Well, you could have fooled me," he replied.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor