Used Vehicle Review: Land Rover LR2, 2008-2014

Vehicle Type

Compact Luxury Utility

History/Description

With the goal of bringing trademark Land Rover capability and luxury into a more compact package, the LR2 launched for model year 2008 with a focus on attainable pricing, maneuverability, and all-season, all-surface driving confidence. Land Rover’s answer to a then-emerging market of compact luxury utility vehicles, LR2 can be cross-shopped with comparable models from BMW, Lincoln, Acura, Audi, Mercedes, Infiniti and others.

Arguably, the LR2 will be the most capable machine amongst its direct used-car competitors, for shoppers who actually plan to use it on the road less travelled. A tight turning circle and good all-around visibility make the LR2 easy to park at Costco, but also a cinch to maneuver around logs and rocks and boulders and other potential hazards you’d rather avoid on the path ahead. A terrain response system with various selectable off-road modes, as well as generous ground clearance and reasonable overhangs adds further confidence.

Uniqueness and overall value in a small and capable luxury utility vehicle helped attract many shoppers to the LR2.

Feature content for the dirt-ready five-seater included leather seats, dual-zone climate control, parking assist, xenon lights, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, premium audio and more.  An HSE variant was available in later years, offering the same smattering of High Specification Edition equipment as the brand’s bigger posh-utes. Upgraded leathers, a potent Meridian audio system and Bluetooth were available or standard, depending on the model.

Engines/Trim

Earlier models got a Volvo-sourced 3.2L straight-six, good for 230 hp. A six-speed automatic and one-speed, full-time four-wheel drive system were on board all models. From model-year 2013, a 2.0L four with turbocharger was fitted to all units, offering up a slight improvement in output, and easier fuel consumption.

What Owners Like

Owners rate build quality, the LR2’s luxurious interior, a tall and commanding driving position, and a sense of go-anywhere-anytime confidence highly, with power output noted as adequate or better. The high-end stereo system and xenon headlights are highly rated, too. Uniqueness and overall value in a small and capable luxury utility vehicle helped attract many shoppers to the LR2.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for a quieter ride, and note that ride quality can suffer on rougher paved surfaces, especially on models with larger wheel sizes. A common complaint, especially on earlier models with the 3.2L engine, is heavy fuel consumption that’s far from the advertised figures in real life, and the LR2’s relatively tall ride height means it’s not noted for exceptional handling.

Here’s a look some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Start your test-driving process ensuring the seller of the LR2 you’re interested in is willing to meet you at a mechanic, preferably one at a Land Rover dealership, or allow you to take the potential used LR2 candidate in for a pre-purchase inspection. Buying a luxury utility vehicle without at least a basic check-over by a technician is strongly advised against.

First up, standard utility-vehicle checks should be considered mandatory. The underside should be inspected for signs of excessive rust, dangling bits of turf, floor-pan damage caused by careless off-roading, and fluid leakage from differentials and axles. Look inside of door sills, behind rubber weather strips, and underneath carpeting for signs of sand and silt, which could indicate the model you’re considering has formerly visited been swamped in an off-road setting, which can cause a world of problems. 

A mechanic should ascertain the condition of all suspension-related components, and shoppers should budget for a full fluid change if the model’s service history is unknown. Note, also, that off-road use, and particularly use that involves water crossing or frequent travel on dusty roads, will reduce the life-span of fluids and filters.

Some owners have reported issues relating to engine overheating and poor air conditioner performance, which may be linked. Though the causes are numerous, it seems likely that engine overheating and poor AC performance most likely stem from a bad radiator fan control module, bad water pump, or a bad thermostat. If the model you’re considering has the 3.2L engine, ask a Land Rover service manager about the coolant hose recall, which may also help remedy overheating and other issues.

Confirm that the air conditioner works properly too, activating and deactivating it several times over the course of your test drive, and keeping an eye on the coolant temperature gauge, which should stay about halfway between cold and hot. As an added precaution, have a mechanic inspect the alternator, as some models suffered issues related to a leak which allowed engine coolant to drip onto, and in to, the alternator.

Here’s a discussion relating to the importance of keeping your LR2’s electrical system healthy with the latest software updates, as well as staying on top of battery and charging system health, to avoid frustrating electrical issues, up to and including no-start situations. Any strange electrical-related issues detected during ownership are cause to check the health of the battery and alternator, and shoppers are advised to have a mechanic confirm that the LR2’s full electrical system is healthy and in proper working order on their pre-purchase inspection. Here’s another vehicle that’s a good candidate for trickle-charger hookup when it’s not being driven for a few days.

Note that revised software can help prevent battery drain, possibly caused by a Bluetooth system that stays active even when the LR2 isn’t running. Here’s some more info about battery drain caused by improper shut-down of the infotainment system, and how to fix the issue.

Finally, though rare, some owners have reported rear differential failure at low miles, so be sure to drive your potential used LR2 candidate in a tight circle at a low speed, focusing on the rear of the vehicle to feel and hear any signs of unwelcomed noise or sensations. If any are detected, be sure to have a mechanic investigate.

The Verdict

With most owner-reported issues pointing to easily detected faults with the cooling system, charging system, and battery, a used LR2 should be easily checked for common problems by a qualified mechanic. Where possible, seek a 2013 or newer model to take advantage of the higher-efficiency engine. A used model from a Certified Pre Owned program at a Land Rover dealer will be your safest bet.

A few recalls.

With the goal of bringing trademark Land Rover capability and luxury into a more compact package, the LR2 launched for model year 2008 with 11/26/2015 11:26:21 AM