- True rock-clambering off-road ability
- Great front seats and driving position
- Good seating for seven
- Fashionably different instrument panel
- Poor fuel economy
- Soft handling
- User-unfriendly center-stack controls
- High cargo loading, tough third-row access
- Spotty reliability
The 2009 Land Rover LR3 is built for off-roading. If you don’t plan to spend much time off pavement, you might be better matched with another choice.
The 2009 Land Rover LR3 returns for the new model year significantly cheaper than last year's model. The SE and HSE models of previous years have been replaced with a base model, plus HSE and HSE LUX editions.
The Land Rover LR3 is powered by a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 and exhibits gutsy acceleration with the requisite six-speed automatic transmission. A four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system (with separate modes commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes") help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2009 Land Rover LR3 without sacrificing on-road handling. A central-locking differential engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.
Those who plan to use the 2009 Land Rover LR3 for daily driving might be interested to know that it carries low fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city, 17 highway. Real-world driving will run toward the lower end of that scale. The LR3 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers; the driving position is very tall, and it feels at first as if the LR3 is going to be tipsy in corners, but it maintains impressive composure in on-road cornering and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs. That’s thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the LR3’s range of electronic aids.
If the LR3's upright, safari-chic look isn't enough, its interior styling also ranks among the most distinctive in any SUV. It still looks fresh relative to much of the competition—even though there are a lot of hard, dark-hued plastics. High-end trims get perks like walnut trim and premium leather with new stitching.
There's plenty of space in the second row of seating, and the "pedestal" third row, which tucks away nicely when not in use, has an elevated roof for more headroom and can fit adults. But it's very difficult to access. The front seating position in the 2009 Land Rover LR3 is very high and upright in front, and taller folks may find that the instrument panel controls seem low in the peripheral vision and difficult to make out among many nearly identical buttons.
The list of standard features on the 2009 Land Rover LR3 includes rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. The HSE LUX adds goodies like bi-xenon headlamps, power heated mirrors, a navigation system with off-road features, front park-distance control, Bluetooth connectivity, and magnificent 550-watt premium surround sound. Options include Sirius Satellite Radio, adaptive front lighting, and a cooler box. The front passenger seat has eight-way power adjustments, and the power-adjustable steering column has a memory function. New for 2009 is the combination of rear climate control and the third-row seat packaged together as an option.
The LR3 has not been crash-tested by either of the U.S. programs. Front side airbags are standard on the 2009 Land Rover LR3, however, along with side curtain bags covering first- and second-row occupants. Anti-lock brakes are also standard and include an all-terrain mode. Drivers should note that Consumer Reports has flagged the 2009 Land Rover LR3 for poor reliability.