What it Is
Land Rover LRX Concept Preview – Detroit Auto Show: – Land Rover says its LRX Concept is a very different vehicle than it has made before because it’s lighter, more compact and more “sustainable,” but is still in keeping with the brand’s off-road strengths. Translation: It’s a crossover, which Land Rover acknowledges. The three-door vehicle is smaller than the LR2 and is being touted by Land Rover as a “cross-coupe.” While the LRX Concept is a long way from a production model, it is also a litmus test for this kind of vehicle.Why it Matters
Land Rover – regardless of who owns it – finds itself in a tough spot. They basically sell one type of vehicle in a few different flavors. While the LR2 has moved the company to building on a passenger car platform, the LRX further advances the idea of Land Rover as something other than a pure off-road vehicle maker. Land Rover has benefited from being owned by Ford and having access to technology developed by the parent’s other brands, most notably Volvo. That kind of situation is key to Land Rover’s survival along with having a little more variety under the badge without diluting the brand.
What’s Under the Hood
The LRX is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbodiesel-hybrid that can run on electricity alone at speeds up to 20 mph. Land Rover says the engine can run on biodiesel and meets Federal specifications. It also sports Land Rover’s all-wheel drive system with hill-descent control and the Terrain Response system, which has an added Eco mode for lower emission driving in the city. The automaker says this reflects the vehicle’s on-road bias. The LRX also incorporates technologies shown on the Land_e Concept Hybrid in 2006, such as advanced power management, which amounts to operating systems such as power steering and air conditioning electrically instead of off the engine.
What it Looks Like
The LRX features some typical crossover styling traits – big wheels under big arches with a sloping roofline and rising beltline. The upper body structure is visible through the windows and roof glass. The front retains enough of Land Rover’s current design cues to be recognizable, including the grill and clam-shell hood. Side windows and roof glass are made from polycarbonate to cut weight and therefore use less fuel – part of the “sustainability” the automaker talks about.
The LRX presents a very modern, luxury interior with lots of leather, aluminum and LCDs but very few buttons. Changing the radio station or turning on the air-conditioning is done with a touch-screen. There’s an iPhone dock and one for an iPod, too. The seats are constructed with a more open framework and are very stylish, but don’t count on them making it to production. Land Rover says there are a multitude of storage and tie-down options. Among the storage options is a wine bottle chiller with a removable sleeve, which can be hung from the tailgate or either door. The tailgate also has two cupholders. Apparently there are Britains who drive to sporting events and stay outside to eat and drink while listening to the game on the radio or watching it on the telly. Sounds familiar.
What Land Rover Says
"With this car, we’ve interpreted the idea of Land Rover ‘breadth of capability’ to be more about versatility than about ultimate off-roading. This meets the needs of the new customers that we believe would be attracted by this type of car. They will not only appreciate LRX’s versatility, but will also recognize that this has been packaged with the highest levels of precision."
What We Think
With the LRX, Land Rover is saying that they need some diversity in the model range to attract new buyers to the brand. The concept is very much in the same vein as the BMW X3, Infiniti EX35 and Mazda CX-7. Whether the change in ownership effects the status of the LRX remains to be scene, but whoever buys Land Rover would be foolish not to bring something like it to market.
By Bob Beamesderfer
MyRide Road Test Editor
Photo Credit: Staff