By Stuart Schwartzapfel
The new Land Rover LRX concept will be introduced in January at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The so-called cross coupe, or mashup of a sport-utility vehicle and sports coupe, is an attempt to address consumers' green concerns. Its interior will be constructed out of eco-friendly components while design improvements in weight and aerodynamics promise benefits in the way of fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. The LRX is also smaller than the LR2, currently the luxury maker's tiniest SUV, so it takes a brand known for large vehicles in a new direction. The LRX would compete against Acura's RDX, Mercedes-Benz's GLK, Infiniti's EX, and Audi's Q5.
The LRX is the first all-new Land Rover unveiled since Gerry McGovern became the company's design director. But it bears a striking resemblance to the Range Stormer concept, which preceded the 2005 production Range Rover Sport. The most glaring similarity lies in the roofline's slope, which slims down as it progresses toward the back of the vehicle. Also similar is the intersection of the bulging front fender and trademark clamshell hood. That's important because design that echoes that of current vehicles often means a prototype is more likely to be produced.
The Verdict: A dicey proposition, considering Land Rover will have to dip into the Ford parts bin to make the LRX happen.
Schwartzapfel, a certified car freak, has studied the automotive marketplace and worked as an advertising/marketing strategist for major manufacturers. He does not write about any car brands for which he currently works.
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