A Land Rover CAR?
I mean, Land Rover makes manly 4x4's. Classic Series trucks to do battle with everything Africa can throw at them on safari. Rock crunching and hard rolling (but still luxurious and comfy) Range Rovers. Defender utility vehicles and police cruisers and army transports and ambulances. Luxury SUV's, yes, but not automobiles. Not mere cars. And not hip, city slicker, high-tech urban autos.
But Land Rover is coming forth with something as close to a car as I imagine they could possibly get - the Land Rover LRX [UPDATE: has now been officially named the Range Rover Evoque]. Ok, you can call it a "Crossover." But the Freelander is essentially a crossover. This LRX concept car is crossing over rather a bit further. The LRX is 6 inches shorter and 8 inches lower than the Freelander 2. It is a car if it is anything, or closer to a car than anything else you would call it.
Now, if you have yet to see what this new Land Rover auto is supposed to look like - at least in concept - then you can view a collection of Land Rover LRX videos. There is also a great interactive demonstration on Land Rover's official site.
The car's interior will be so very sheik - with advanced iPhone integration even - and lots of other tech goodness to boot. The interior design seems really well thought out with lots of little cool features that make such a difference. How about a cool box, and a bottle chiller? Each seat rides on individual plinths. You get a very "nature-y" impression of the choice of interior materials - and its environmentally friendly with chromium free vegetable tanned leather, recyclable aluminum, carpeting from sustainable sources, and more. It is definitely green - it even has a fine suede-like material that is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and fibres. So definitely Land Rover luxury, and Land Rover cool, on the inside.
And for a car, it has great clearance. Perhaps a somewhat higher than normal car upward driving position, which is very Land Rover. It has Hill-Descent Control and Terrain Response, as such it should get great off-road traction / handling - for a car.
As such, you couldn't call it an SUV could you? It is technically a sport utility vehicle if you just think of the definitions of the words "sport" and "utility," I suppose, but an SUV brings to mind something larger. More truck-ish. Should we call this new Land Rover vehicle a mini-SUV perhaps?
I drive a Range Rover. Not a new one, unfortunately, but a Range Rover nevertheless. And amongst Range Rover geeks and Series diehards and Defender aficionados like me, typically we kind of don't entirely think of a Freelander even as being wholly a real Land Rover. Not that the Freelander isn't still great in its own right, for what it is, and still class-leading in its capabilities - but there are some who even use the term "Freeloader." So it makes me wonder how the old guard will react to this new "baby" Land Rover -- this _car_.
This new Land Rover car, well, it might take some getting used to. I think it is a great idea in many respects. It should handle the snow and the mud of suburbia most admirably. I love the green good-for-the-earth features. But is this the way Land Rover should go? Yes, if it means it keeps them around and profitable so they can keep building Range Rovers. Yes, to fill the specific need, the niche, for a capable and stylish four-wheel drive car. But still, for Land Rover fans, it is a big change, and will take some getting used to. Certainly it changes the overall impression, or gestalt, or concept of what a Land Rover is and what you conjur up when you think Land Rover.
I suppose my wife would rather like one, actually. And the doodads and extra amenities like the iPhone integration are rather cool. My save the earth granola innards love the LRX concept. My tech geek side loves it. I want to rave about it. And disdain it as something of a pretender at the same time. Bottom line, I give it a thumbs up, but still, it is no Range Rover. Like if it was my wife's or my kid's car, then I could play in it on occasion, but otherwise I'll stick with my Rover, so I can go most anywhere I want to go.
Land Rover says the LRX is "a car for the conscience. A truly compact, aerodynamic, lighter-weight vehicle with environmentally-focused technologies, it addresses the modern world's needs." I suppose so, but if you want to travel in the modern off-road world, you still need a Range Rover. Or a Defender or Discovery. A traditional Land Rover. An LRX could be great for dealing with snow and mud, but a true off-road vehicle it is not. And yes, if it gets the 50 mpg (US gallon) they are predicting, that is a very good thing, and being pro-environment is important. But then, again, how about a hybrid Range Rover?
Well, obviously, I'm back and forth. Your thoughts? Is this new Land Rover car - the LRX - a good thing, a great thing, or a bad thing? Or something not even worth noting? Please sound off in the comments below...