GAYDON, England -- Land Rover's first SUV from a shared car platform is expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships next April.
The LR2 compact SUV, which replaces the slow-selling Freelander, will share a platform and key components with the Volvo S80 and European market Ford Mondeo sedan and Galaxy minivan.
The rest of Land Rover's lineup switched from body-on-frame to unibody construction when they were redesigned over the past few years. However, the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR3 platforms are not shared with cars.
Land Rover was not presented an existing car platform and told to create an SUV from it. Rather, Land Rover was present at the birth of the platform, called EUCD in Ford parlance.
In that way, Land Rover ensured that it got sturdy underpinnings, while Volvo and Ford received structures to satisfy the needs of their distinct buyers, Andrew Foster, LR2 chief program engineer, said at a press event here.
Previously, similar cooperation spawned the Volvo S40, Mazda3 and European-market Ford Focus sedans from the smaller C1 platform. However, the EUCD's sharing of an all-wheel-drive SUV with front-drive sedans was a much more complicated task.
For example, in the engine bay, the LR2 shares with Ford and Volvo a common crash structure in the longitudinal beams and spring towers. Parts of the engine-mounting subframe are shared.
But the LR2 has tougher subframe mountings, bumper armatures and suspension knuckles. It also has numerous crossbeams for more stability and stiffness.
Volvo contributed the 230-hp, 3.2-liter inline-six engine that powers the LR2. Volvo also performed some safety and crash-test engineering. The vehicles' shared floorpan is stamped in Sweden.
But other parts remain distinctly Land Rover. The LR2 will have the "terrain response" off-road traction system shared with the rest of the brand's lineup. It also will have Land Rover's roll stability control and hill descent control as a standard feature.
"Consumers don't care about architecture; they care about execution," said Richard Beattie, executive vice president of Land Rover North America Inc.
The LR2 will be the first Land Rover not built at the Solihull plant in the British Midlands. Rather, it will share a final assembly line with the Jaguar X-Type at the Halewood plant near Liverpool.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]