The Land Rover LR2 wins the Luxury Crossover SUV Vehicle Satisfaction Award over strong domestic and import brand competition. In its second year in current form, the smallest Land Rover outscored the likes of the Acura RDX, Infiniti EX, BMW X3 and Lincoln MKX. LR2 scored well for product and financial attributes including:
• Ease of entry/egress
• Fuel economy and operating costs
• Value for the money, anticipated resale value
Audi Chooses Shanghai to Introduce Concept Previewing Upcoming Small Crossover SUV
Audi‘s second SUV is a smaller entry set to go into production next year in Ingolstadt, and will be named Q5 when it reaches dealerships. As the production date gets closer, Audi floated a preview in the form of the Cross Coupe Quattro concept at this year’s Shanghai auto show. Yes, that’s right. Audi gave a worldwide introduction of a major concept at a Chinese auto show. Audi was not alone in making major product news in China this month and we’ll only see more introductions in Shanghai and Beijing as the Chinese market grows.
The Audi Cross Coupe Quattro Concept face embodies Audi’s latest big-mouth grilles and clearly pulls from the Q7. As such, it is likely pretty close to the production Q5’s face, though the concept’s extremely fast rear roofline will get raised for production. A taller rear roofline will also improve the looks, to our way of thinking. Among the interesting features on the Cross Coupe Quattro is a power-folding fabric roof, a la the 2008 Jeep Liberty. The interior shows a new direction for Audi, and the initial photos promise that they haven’t lost their touch for creating great-looking interiors.
As the pendulum swings towards smaller vehicles and ‘socially conscious’ consumers Volvo has decided to shrink some of their XC90s. Volvo will expand their Crossover SUV lineup to compete in the arena with vehicles like the Lexus RX350, BMW X3, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Mercury Mariner (Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute). Some may ask… Does Volvo need another soft roader 5-passenger SUV positioned under its 7-passenger XC90? Is Volvo concluding like many manufacturers that multiple SUVs are required to compete in today’s auto market?
XC60 Violates Volvo’s Naming Strategy
Codenamed Y278, then dubbed XC50, the production version will be called the XC60. This name violates Volvo’s own naming strategy. That strategy, that they have been implementing over the past few years, has each hatchback, wagon or SUV having an odd-number – C30, V50, V70, XC70, XC90. The sedans are all “S” names with even numbers – S40, S60, S80. So, here comes the XC60 and throws all this hard work out the window. Wonder why?
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Land Rover has always been the smart choice for people who wanted to go off-roading – we mean really off-roading, like on safari, running away from charging rhinoceros off-roading. And the nicest things about a Land Rover, was that you could flee that rhinoceros in style and comfort. But recent quality issues and reliability disappointments have tarnished Land Rover’s sterling reputation. They’re hoping the all new LR2 puts those issues to rest.
The LR2 was unveiled to North America at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month and AutoPacific Senior Consultant Jim Hossack was on hand to have a first look. He liked what he saw.
Show Runtime – 2:28
Every Freelander sold in the USA hurt Land Rover’s image. It was a fortunate folly that Freelander lost the source of its anemic 2.5L V6 engine when Rover collapsed in England. This gave Land Rover North America a convenient reason to kill the Freeloader, uh, Freeboater, uh, Free…
LR2 Adds Guarantees Land Rover Sales Records Will Continue
Freelander continued in Europe with one engine – fortunately the EU powerplant of choice – an oil-burning diesel.
That the Freelander was a sales leader in Europe and an also ran in the USA shows how competitive the American SUV market is and how cutthroat it can be. There is simply no room anymore for a substandard entry.
Land Rover launched the all new Freelander 2, to be named the LR2 in the USA, at the British International Motor Show in London this week. It will come to the USA in Spring 2007.
Land Rover has set sales records in the USA for the past few years and remains a bright spot in Ford Motor Company’s Premier Automotive Group. If Land Rover were an independent company today, their managers would be rolling in bonus cash, but, alas, Land Rover exists within struggling Ford.
Come 2007, when the LR2 is added to the American Land Rover lineup, Land Rover will have a fourth model to add to their impressive volume achievements. Not huge volumes, but very respectable profits.
Platform Shared With Volvo’s Upcoming XC50
Based on a platform shared with the Volvo XC50 (and is a derivative of the S40/V50 platform) that comes about a year later, the LR2 carries over some Freelander styling cues including proportions that yield a hood that looks a bit too long.
Engine from Volvo Still with Full Time 4WD
In the USA, LR2 gets one engine – a 3.2L in-line 6-cylinder from Volvo turning out about 230-horsepower. This finally puts the small Land Rover in a relatively competitive position powertrain-wise, but with similar sized SUVs like the Acura RDX putting out 240-horsepower (4-cylinder turbo starting at about $33,000) and the much cheaper Toyota RAV4 V6 putting out 269-horsepower (at a bit over $22,000 for the V6) the Land Rover brand name is going to have to do double duty to attract customers.
Like Jeep-of-old, Land Rover strongly believes that all wheel drive is part of its cachet, image, reputation adn the LR2 has full-time 4-wheel drive standard with no two-wheel drive derivative available.
Interior Upgrades Very Welcomed
The interior of the LR2 is substantially improved over the old Freelander. Where it appeared that Rover engineers could not spell the word “ergonomics” the LR2 looks much more user friendly.
The rear seats do not fold fully flat, a packaging error from our perspective. The front passenger seat does not fold flat either… another interior compromise that should have been eliminated.
Pricing – Volumes
With the Acura RDX boldly priced at $33,000 with a 4-cylinder turbo, we’d expect the Land Rover LR2 to be positioned in the mid-$30s as well. We wish the base price actually would be below $30,000. Land Rover plans to produce 80,000 Freelander 2/LR2s worldwide with 40% headed stateside. If they put down 32,000 LR2s, Land Rover becomes an altogether different proposition in the market.
The British International Motor Show has fallen on tough times and after years at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, the organizers – the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – moved the event to London at the state-of-the-art ExCeL centre in Docklands for the 2006 show. The show runs from July 20 through July 30, 2006.
For those of us who have trekked to Birmingham to view the Motor Show, and AutoPacific
has attended several (but not this one), it was an interesting train ride from London and a quick walk from the train to the exhibition hall. The show was manageable, not overwhelmed by gargantuan displays of local car-makers. When Rover went kaput, Birmingham’s critical mass disappeared.
The problem also is that Birmingham – while in the midst of the British car industry in the Midlands – is not the population center that London is.
For the 2006 show, the British-based manufacturers pulled out all the stops wotj world debuts from Land Rover (new Freelander/LR2), Jaguar (XKR) and Vauxhall/Opel (new Corsa), plus global debuts from BMW (M6 Cabriolet) and SEAT (Leon Cupra).
The most obvious thing about the British Motor Show in its new digs are the absentees. No-shows include: Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen; in fact, the only VW Group brand in London is SEAT, which showed off the Leon Cupra. Ferrari, Fiat, Lamborghini, Maserati, Perodua, Porsche, Proton, Subaru or Suzuki were not there either. This begs the question asked bi-annually… is there still a place for the British Motor Show? Has it been so overshadowed by Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Geneva and Detroit that its place has become that of a local or regional show?