New Land Rover LR2 – aka Freelander 2
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…
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.
LR2 Adds Guarantees Land Rover Sales Records Will Continue
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.