The 2014 Land Rover LR2 crossover SUV began life in 1997 as the Land Rover Freelander. But, given the Freelander's poor reputation for reliability, a name change seemed in order. Hence, the LR2 designation. Land Rover has exercised many of the demons that plagued the Freelander, but the jury is still out on the LR2's long-term prospects.

Aside from the related Evoque crossover, the LR2 is the only Land Rover to employ unibody construction, which means it's built like a car, not a truck. Optimized for paved roads, the LR2 can nonetheless hold its own in the bushes if opportunity knocks. From a luxury standpoint, the LR2 competes with the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Lexus RX -- all better-equipped and better-reviewed luxury models with more interior room and superior fuel economy ratings. However, the LR2's off-road abilities far exceed its luxury rivals.

What's New for 2014

Changes for 2014 are minimal, with a new model expected to replace the LR2 in 2015. For now, the 2014 LR2 gets a revised infotainment system and upgraded Sirius Satellite Radio functionality. The 825-watt Meridian audio system is now a standalone option.

What We Like

Surprising off-road capability; competitive base MSRP; peppy acceleration

What We Don't

Forgettable fuel economy; cramped interior; unproven long-term reliability

How Much?

$37,495-$45,895

Fuel Economy

The LR2 features a new engine for 2014: a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy is a subpar 17 miles per gallon city/24 mpg hwy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Land Rover LR2 is offered in three trim levels: base, HSE and LUX.

The base model ($37,495) comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels (19-in wheels are optional), automatic headlamps, fog lights, heated mirrors, LED taillamps, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, basic power front seats (6-way driver, 4-way passenger), a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary controls, Bluetooth, a 7-in infotainment touchscreen and an 11-speaker Meridian audio system with a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The HSE ($39,995) adds a few exterior styling flourishes and niceties, such as extra power-seat adjustments and a rearview camera with Hitch Assist for towing.

The LUX ($42,595) tacks on Windsor leather seats, premium floor mats and a 17-speaker, 825-watt Meridian surround-sound audio system.

LR2 options include a voice-command system, a hard-drive-based navigation system, the 825-watt Meridian audio system and heated front seats.

Safety

The 2014 LR2 comes standard with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, all-wheel drive and seven airbags (front, front side, driver knee, full-length side curtain). It also has a slew of electronic driving aids, including Hill Descent Control (HDC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Corner Brake Control (CBC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Engine Drag Control (EDC) and Gradient Release Control (GRC).

Neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the Land Rover LR2.

Behind the Wheel

The LR2 is Land Rover's entry-level vehicle, yet it still features classy Euro-style luxury appointments inside. Although the back seat is cramped, it benefits from a raised seat for safari-like outward visibility, which is very good at all four corners and aided by narrow A-pillars. Ergonomics aren't nearly the nightmare you might expect; in fact, between its user-friendly touchscreen and handy climate-control knobs, the LR2 is one of the more user-friendly luxury crossovers on the market.

The LR2 is more similar in driving feel to European compact SUVs than it is to other Land Rover products past or present, with the notable exception of the Evoque. Drivers who expect the road-owning sensation provided by the LR4 or the Range Rover family will be disappointed. Nonetheless, you may like the LR2's relatively nimble character and, while the Ford-sourced turbo engine isn't the best of its breed, it adds noticeable pep to the LR2's step.

The permanent 4-wheel-drive system is partly why the LR2's fuel economy falls short of 4-cylinder crossover SUV standards. On the other hand, the LR2 has off-road ability that puts most luxury crossovers to shame. If that's a priority, you likely won't mind paying a bit more at the pump.

Other Cars to Consider

Acura RDX -- The RDX offers front-wheel drive as well as all-wheel drive, and it's one of the better values in this segment.

Audi Q5 -- The Q5 certainly makes more of a fashion statement, and it has an excellent optional supercharged V6.

BMW X3 -- The X3 continues to be one of our favorites. It's available with either 4-cylinder power or a phenomenal twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder.

AutoTrader's Advice

We don't see much reward in getting a loaded LR2, as that almost puts you in Evoque territory. Stick with the base model, though, and you're looking at something of a bargain in this segment.

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