Land Rover LR3 Research

The Car Connection Land Rover LR3 Overview

The Land Rover LR3, which replaced the Discovery, was launched in 2005 and sold through 2009, after which it was replaced with an updated version dubbed the LR4. The boxy, upright sport-utility vehicle was one of the better off-road utilities on the market, though its luxury brand tended to mean that many buyers never took it onto anything more challenging than muddy driveways.

In 2005 through 2007, two engines were offered: a 216-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 on the SE model, and a 300-hp 4.4-liter V-8 borrowed from Jaguar on the HSE version. Both were paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, as well as four-wheel independent height-adjustable air suspension. In 2008 and 2009, the underpowered V-6 went away and the HSE model became essentially a trim level.

The LR3's all-wheel-drive system included a center-locking differential  It is also includes the Land Rover Terrain Response System, which lets the driver select one of several modes that electronically controlled drivetrain response under different sets of conditions: "Mud and Ruts" or "Sand and Dunes" to assist the driver and prevent the car from bogging down. Along with high ground clearance, steep approach angles, and a center-locking differential, it's one of the features that gives this luxury sport utility such awesome off-road capability--that and 65 years of Land Rover experience negotiating some of the world's worst terrain.

On-road handling wasn't sacrificed to the off-road abilities, and the power steering offered good road feel and a surprisingly tight turning circle. But all that hardware added weight, which led to the LR3 earing a dismal fuel-economy rating of 14 mpg combined. That's not all that unusual for a seven-seat SUV that can tow 7,700 pounds, but the Land Rover's upright stance somewhat disguised its size.

Inside, while more luxurious than the utilitarian Discovery it replaced, the LR3 remained far from the luxury of its Range Rover sibling--or for that matter from the updated LR4 that replaced it. The dashboard was widely criticized for a scattered array of various buttons, arranged in not-particularly-intuitive ways. Both the second- and third-row seats could be folded flat to boost cargo volume.

The model lineup was simplified in 2008, with only the 4.4-liter V-8 surviving, and for 2009, the price of the Land Rover LR3 was cut significantly--at least in part due to the recession then gripping the economy. At the same time, the SE and HSE trim levels were replaced with a base model, plus HSE and HSE LUX models.

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