The 2013 Land Rover LR2 is completely updated, featuring a more efficient and powerful engine, a stylishly redesigned interior and pleasingly revised bodywork. It joins forces with Land Rover's award-winning Evoque to entice entry-level SUV shoppers in the premium compact marketplace.

The LR2 Land Rover gains a heightened visual appeal, thanks to new exterior design elements that serve up a sportier and more purposeful image. Perhaps the best way to describe the LR2 is to refer to it as a more affordable "baby" Range Rover. Standard dual sunroofs increase the airy feel of LR2's cabin, with the front section opening and sliding back over the second-row glass roof panel.

The 2013 model is available in three trims: LR2 ($37,250); a more upscale LR2 HSE ($39,750); and the flagship LR2 HSE LUX ($42,350). All are powered by a new 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct injection inline four-cylinder engine that produces 250 lb.-ft. of torque.

During the international press launch in some tough terrain of Canada, my driving partner and I were assigned the 2013 LR2 HSE LUX. For those looking to go off-roading in stylish luxury, the 2013 Land Rover LR2 fills the bill quite nicely. The HSE LUX is obviously the most desirable model, but the base LR2 trim level is nothing to sneeze at. The mechanicals are same through the entire lineup.

The first leg of our drive was on-road and took us from Montreal to Montebello, where we embarked on a lengthy off-road drive through a 65,000 acre forest preserve. The off-road didn't involve extreme rock crawling, but there were challenging portions that were encountered successfully without incident.

Hill Descent Control with speed, which may be modulated through the Cruise Control, proved to be a valuable asset when traversing steep, slippery downhill scenarios. Terrain Response proved equally valuable off road. The system works continuously, but special programs may be selected by the driver for challenging terrain conditions. On the LR2, there are four Terrain Response settings, which the driver can choose via buttons: General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand.

The narrow A-pillars contribute to outstanding all-round visibility. Hood turrets allow placing the vehicle more accurately on the road, especially off the beaten path. The wheel stance and wide track result in agile handling and positive grip. Short front and rear overhangs and high underbody enhance off-road performance by maximizing approach and departure angles. The body-side protection guards against stone chips and helps to keep sills clean.

The engine is in essence the same as Ford's EcoBoost engine, which is mounted transversely up front and replaces the previous LR2's 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder. The driving force is delivered to Land Rover's full-time 4WD with Haldex rear-axle differential through an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission.

The transmission also features a remote breather that's routed above LR2's water wading depth (19.7 inches). The transmission is programmed to hold low gears longer and to shift down more readily, assisting acceleration.

Inside, technologies from the Range Rover Evoque are now available in the Land Rover LR2, along with a new dashboard layout that includes a new center console and a new standard 7-inch color touch-screen.

A new instrument cluster with a 5-inch screen displaying primary vehicle-related information -- temperature and fuel levels, gear positions and Terrain Response mode -- now sits between the dials across the LR2 model range, complemented with steering wheel toggle switches to operate the clearest of drop-down menus and vehicle set-up details.

The 2013 Land Rover LR2 is a worthy luxury SUV for either on- or off-road duty.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 LAND ROVER LR2 HSE LUX

VEHICLE TYPE__________________ 5-passenger compact 4WD SUV

BASE PRICE____________________ $42,350

MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI

DISPLACEMENT_________________ 2.0-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 240 at 5500 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 250 at 3200 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 177.0 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___37.0 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,913 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY_________________ 18.5 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway