2008 Land Rover

Model Tested LR2 SE

Just ask Tony Rock: Living in ya big brother’s shadow is no fun, but that ain’t stopping the Freelander from trying to shine under a new name. With a few skin grafts and a fresh moniker for ’08, the LR2 is stepping to trash-talkers who say pint-size luxe ’utes are bitch whips.

Check it, dirt hunting is easier than you think. Go stick the ’08 LR2 in the mud. As small as it is, it’ll no doubt earn your esteem by playing dirty. Step up and into the LR2 and note your driving position. Your shoulders are high above the windowsills, and ya elbows are level with the door handles. Yeah, it’s small, but it’s not tryin’ to be a low-slung crossover—you sit high and mighty. Enter your destination in the touch-screen navi, toss it in drive and nail it.

“Faster!” you might think, wishing the lil’ wheezy six-banger had more punch. Fast is fun, but if you’re stuck in traffic remember that comfort, status and capability are why you snagged this lil’ SUV. Should you dash over a pothole of death, you’ll be surprised at the LR2’s ability to soak ’em up, one after tha next.

While the navi is sure to steer you through the most convoluted route known to man, keep driving; a few more ill-advised turns, and you’ll be where you really belong…off the beaten street. This is when the Land Rover-standard console-mounted Terrain Response system makes off-roading anything but Russian roulette. Settings for grass/gravel/snow; mud and ruts; and sand got ya covered, while all of the above covers your shiny new Landy. Stick it in mud and ruts mode, and Terrain Response acts as protection and a pleasure enhancer. Slip and slide through mud and bumps—the name of the game is get filthy and nauseate ya passengers! Then when y’all have had enough, treat them to audio relaxation. Click on the nine-speaker, 320-watt Alpine system to hush the sound of mud rippin’ off your tires as you set the cruise on the highway.

The LR2 splattered with soil is like a soldier in tattered combat gear and all the Rover bones you could beg for at half the price of a full-blown Range. Budgetary b-boys, get ya drool on. Jack Chinelli

DAMAGE $39,250
POWER 230hp, 234 lb.-ft.
0-60 8.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 124mph
GAS CASH 18 city, 33 hwy
INTERIOR The all-out Ebony Black interior makes the tight-ish cabin feel small, so you might want to opt for the Alpaca Beige digs to brighten the ambience. For daylight drives, the dual-section sun/moon roof combo is an eyeful; at night, all gauges glow Ninja Turtle green.
EXTERIOR From some angles, the LR2 may emit some Ford Freestyle or Honda CR-V vibes. Catch its profile or the front three-quarters, and it’s straight Land Rover, even in Tambora Flame paint. Grille, panel vents and dual exhaust are the business.
FLOSS FACTOR Buying a Land Rover gets you access to the silver spoon,
pinky-finger-up-while-sippin’-tea British upper crust…sorta. Just be careful about your rim selection: Keep it functional.
FLAW FACTOR Motor lacks oomph; navigation system plays by its own rules.

Photography Tony Harmer /// Illustrator Toby Goodshank