By Aaron Cole, THE AURORA SENTINEL
Last month, seven automakers sold slightly fewer cars in the U.S. than Land Rover did.
The list: Bentley, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini — and, on the other side of size and speed, SMART.
What one could derive from that list of exclusive automakers is that Americans don’t like them expensive, and they don’t like them small.
So imagine how well Land Rover’s LR2, which runs over $40,000 and is a pint-sized version of their $100,000 Range Rover, did in sales. It’s a safe bet that more Picassos were sold in the month of June than Land Rover moved LR2s off the lot.
We Americans, strangely, like every single thing the LR2 has to offer though.
We like to overpay for things. See Whole Foods markets and Evian water. We like SUVs. See every Ford built between 2001 and 2007. And we even like unreliability. See Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
Someone explain to me how these things aren’t selling out faster than a Jonas Brothers concert. More on that in a moment.
Similar from last year’s model, the 2009 version offers little improvement over the redesign from a year ago.
You still get the same 3.2-liter, six-cylinder power plant. You get the same 230 horses from it, too.
The same traction selector knob is standard on all models, and the same safety features that will keep you safe in a hurricane come with the LR2 as well.
In fact, the only real achievement over last year’s model was the HST package that offers a different body kit, and a couple of other doodads. I drove the HST in March, and it’s fair to say that the body kit adds so much uniqueness to the LR2 that I completely forgot I drove it.
Where the LR2 succeeds is that while Honda and Toyota — to an extent BMW, Mercedes and Audi — make cute ‘utes that your high-school-aged daughter would feel safe in, Land Rover makes a cute ‘ute that you wouldn’t want your daughter alone with.
The small SUV is a predator in every sense of the word.
Land Rover’s pedigree for making unstoppable off-roading tanks is carried forward in every inch of the LR2, which is a good thing if you’re looking for a mountain climbing mini-god, but is a bad thing if you’re looking for a tame, city-going car.
The LR2’s V6 powers like a V8 brute, but swigs gasoline at the same 15 mpg rate.
And there’s no sense in looking for the “High 4-Wheel Drive” and “Low 4-Wheel Drive” knob in this car — you get a knob to automatically adjust the suspension and gears for rain, snow, mud, mountain and hell.
So why doesn’t a brutus — albeit thirsty and expensive — fly off the shelves quicker than its pansy competitors?
Remember the six main automakers that sold fewer cars than Land Rover? Those manufacturers don’t offer smaller, cheaper versions of what they do best. You can’t buy a reasonable Rolls Royce.
Land Rover is known around the world for making snorkeling sub-tanks. A smaller version of that just doesn’t feel right.
Final Verdict: Two and a half stars out of four. The Land Rover LR2 is a snarling, small beast. But when it comes to its bigger brothers, the inflated price and the smaller stature doesn’t fit into the bigger picture.
Aaron Cole is the managing editor of The Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters