2008 Land Rover LR3 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 6, 2008

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 is hard to justify for fashion alone, but if you're living an off-road lifestyle, it's one of the best.

To assemble this comprehensive review of the 2008 Land Rover LR3, the car experts at TheCarConnection.com looked to several of the most respected review sources. Then TheCarConnection’s editors brought their own firsthand driving experience to bring you an especially insightful review.

The 2008 Land Rover LR3, the mid-price, mid-size luxury sport-utility vehicle from the British brand, borrows key styling cues from its larger showroom companion, the Range Rover. It returns in 2008 with some interior trim adjustments and a two-model lineup.

Both 2008 Land Rover LR3 models are now powered by a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 and exhibit gutsy acceleration with the requisite six-speed automatic transmission. Both the sport-themed SE and the luxury-oriented HSE also have a central-locking differential that engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.

A four-corner independent height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2008 Land Rover LR3 without sacrificing on-road handling. The system has separate modes, commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics, for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes."

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The LR3 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers, but it maintains impressive composure in tight corners and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs, thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the electronic aids. Those who plan to use the 2008 Land Rover LR3 for daily driving might be interested to know that it carries low fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway.

If the LR3's upright, safari-chic look isn't enough, its interior styling also ranks among the most distinctive in any SUV, and after being on sale for three years, it still looks fresh relative to much of the competition--even though there are a lot of hard, dark-hued plastics. The seating position in the 2008 Land Rover LR3 is very high and upright in front, and taller folks may find the instrument panel controls seem low in the peripheral vision and difficult to make out among many nearly identical buttons. 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.

Standard equipment on the "base" SE model is vast, including rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. The 2008 Land Rover LR3 HSE adds 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.

For 2008, the front passenger seat adopts eight-way power adjustments, while the 2008 Land Rover LR3 HSE also picks up a power-adjustable steering column with a memory function. The HSE also has new walnut trim on its center console, with black lacquer trim available at no charge. Lastly, the premium leather gets new stitching and an additional pocket on the driver seat.

Front side airbags are standard on the 2008 Land Rover LR3, along with side curtain bags covering first- and second-row occupants. Anti-lock brakes are also standard and include an all-terrain mode. The LR3 has not been crash-tested by either of the U.S. programs.

Another cause for concern for some is that Consumer Reports has flagged the 2008 Land Rover LR3 for poor reliability.

8

2008 Land Rover LR3

Styling

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 blends rugged lines and sophisticated details for a one-of-a-kind look.

Most who are looking for an "uptown" SUV rather than a "backwoods" one will appreciate the 2008 Land Rover LR3's styling, as do reviewers from respected Web sources.

The 2008 Land Rover LR3, the mid-price, mid-size luxury sport-utility vehicle from the British brand, borrows key styling cues from its larger showroom companion, the Range Rover. Although Edmunds says the Land Rover LR3 "offers an unparalleled rugged image," experts at TheCarConnection.com note that most reviews praise its more sophisticated and refined cosmetic attributes. "The upright, angular LR3 has rectangular rear quarter windows and uses a monocoque structure. Short overhangs and a large greenhouse are familiar touches, along with a face and a split tailgate in back that echo the company's flagship Range Rover," writes Cars.com. Kelley Blue Book notes that "viewed from the front, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the 2008 [Land Rover] LR3 for its big brother, the Range Rover," and that it "carries the extreme geometric styling all the way down the sides and around the back, [with] a few details from the former Discovery model it replaced."

If the LR3's upright, safari-chic look isn't enough, its interior styling also ranks among the most distinctive in any SUV, and after being on sale for three years, it still seems fresh relative to much of the competition--even though there are a lot of hard, dark-hued plastics. ConsumerGuide focuses on the Land Rover LR3's "uptown" attributes, as well; "the lack of wood and other fancy trim leans to upscale outdoorsy rather than uptown opulent." Edmunds opines that the 2008 Land Rover LR3 "has a style all its own and it's on display inside the LR3," but adds "there's a general rough-and-tumble ambience that's been passed down through decades of adventure-seeking Land Rovers." Kelley Blue Book says that the interior "faithfully conveys the [Land Rover] LR3's overall balance of luxury and capability."

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2008 Land Rover LR3

Performance

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 has gutsy power and good handling, thanks to myriad electronic helpers.

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 has good power and brainy controls for its suspension, but it’s still a big SUV by definition, and performance is not its prime directive.

Both 2008 Land Rover LR3 models are now powered by a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 and have gutsy acceleration with the requisite six-speed automatic transmission. The sport-themed SE and the luxury-oriented HSE also have a central-locking differential that engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.

Edmunds sums it up best: "the hefty Land Rover LR3 is no rocket, especially when carrying a full load of passengers." Nonetheless, the Land Rover LR3 takes advantage of a "Jaguar-derived 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 that's been changed to handle severe offroad conditions" with "five terrain settings for on-road to extreme offroad conditions," reports Cars.com, which says that it "has no shortage of V-8 power." According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2008 Land Rover LR3's engine "packs the power and smoothness we expect from a Land Rover," but they add that they'd "like to see a little quicker throttle response when moving from a stop."

There are few complaints about the Land Rover LR3's transmission; Cars.com reports "a beautifully refined powertrain that shifts gears smoothly." This, according to Edmunds, is a "six-speed automatic transmission [that] sends power to a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system." By using a rotary knob, "the driver can select one of five settings that optimizes everything for the conditions at hand, from throttle response to the differentials." ConsumerGuide, nonetheless, notes that the 2008 Land Rover LR3's "transmission is slow to downshift on hills," adding that "throttle response changes with the transfer-case setting," and that it is "less sensitive in low range for better off-road control."

Those who plan to use the 2008 Land Rover LR3 for daily driving might be interested to know that it carries low fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city, 17 highway. ConsumerGuide reports that fuel economy is indeed "dismal, even for the class. In Consumer Guide testing, we averaged 12.8-14.1 mpg in city/highway driving and 15.5 mpg in exclusively freeway travel." Adding insult to pocketbook injury, they issue a reminder that "Land Rover recommends premium-grade gas." Mother Proof simply calls the Land Rover LR3 what it is: "a gas guzzler."

A four-corner independent height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2008 Land Rover LR3 without sacrificing on-road handling. The system has separate modes, commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes."

The LR3 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers, but it maintains impressive composure in tight corners and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs, thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the electronic aids. "The taut suspension yields a firm ride; it's pleasant on the highway and acceptable on urban pavement," says Cars.com, which adds that it "maneuvers adeptly with satisfying steering feel...little correction is needed to stay on course, but the [Land Rover] LR3 does demand close attention."

Edmunds notes that the "advanced suspension is well-suited for both on-road cruising and off-road treks, and a tight turning radius makes it fairly maneuverable in parking lots. However, the vehicle's high center of gravity gives it a somewhat tippy feel when negotiating corners." ConsumerGuide notes that "overall the 2008 [Land Rover] LR3 is comfortably absorbent over bumps big and small," but that "dips and wavy surfaces induce some residual bobbing." Kelley Blue Book sums it up simply: "well-mannered day-to-day driving experience."

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2008 Land Rover LR3

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 has good interior space and materials, but third-row access and confusing controls cloud the picture.

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 has enough room for almost anyone and everything you want to put in it, but some awkward mechanisms and access bottlenecks drop its overall rating for comfort and quality.

ConsumerGuide reports that the 2008 Land Rover LR3 "is the only Land Rover with seven-passenger seating" and that it "offers a commanding driving position with comfortable and upright seats." They also note "second and 3rd-row seats are unusually comfortable, with ample headroom and legroom"; however, while "three adults fit in the 2nd row...we wouldn't recommend it on long drives." This source adds, "climbing to the 3rd row is complicated by the tall step-in and a narrow pass-through."

According to Cars.com, "Three-row seating is standard for all 2008 [Land Rover] LR3s; leather seating surfaces for the first and second rows, eight-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats...are also standard." This source adds the "seats are comfortable and supportive despite firm cushioning." While "many of the bewildering controls may seldom be used...the suspension's access setting helps ease entry and exit." Kelley Blue Book warns that "although the third row offers decent room, the seating mechanisms aren't as slick and easy to operate as we've experienced in the competition."

There is no shortage of storage and cargo space aboard the Land Rover LR3, however, which the reviewers at Mother Proof declare is "to-die-for," noting that they "shoved so much into the back of this car, and it swallowed everything and even seemed to want more." They add, "there are also two glove compartments and mucho cupholders." Edmunds notes, "in terms of everyday usability, the LR3 shines, with fold-flat second- and third-row seats, and a vast cargo space with a maximum of 90 available cubic feet." ConsumerGuide, however, had mixed reactions on storage and cargo issues: "some testers say it complicates loading and unloading, while others praise its versatility" and that "the glovebox is difficult to open if the passenger seat is occupied."

ConsumerGuide also notes that "interior materials are of high quality," but the Land Rover LR3's "gauges have small print that makes them difficult to read at a glance...The controls are a somewhat confusing jumble of switches, knobs, and buttons, [and] radio, navigation, and climate systems are hard to decipher." Edmunds admires the "comfortable and well-appointed interior...[but] testing experiences have shown that build quality isn't universally solid." ConsumerGuide reports that as far as extraneous sound levels aboard the Land Rover LR3 are concerned, "some highway-speed wind noise is the only demerit of note."

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2008 Land Rover LR3

Safety

The list of standard safety equipment indicates that the 2008 Land Rover LR3 provides good levels of protection for its occupants, but crash-test results are still in the offing.

TheCarConnection.com notes that the 2008 Land Rover LR3 has substantial safety equipment. However, crash tests have not been performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Cars.com reports, "Antilock brakes and an electronic parking brake are installed" on the Land Rover LR3. In addition to front airbags, "side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows are standard, and separate side curtains are included to protect third-row occupants." Edmunds asserts, "Safety features on the 2008 Land Rover LR3 include traction control, stability control with rollover mitigation technology [and] hill-descent control"; in addition, "rear parking sensors are included on all [Land Rover] LR3s, while front bumper sensors are standard on the HSE and optional on the SE." Furthermore, "adaptive headlights, which 'look' around corners and adjust up and down to counter the effects of hard braking, are also available."

Edmunds also reports that in the Land Rover LR3, "a commanding driving position and elevated 'stadium' seating give the driver a clear view of the road (or trail) ahead."

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2008 Land Rover LR3

Features

The 2008 Land Rover LR3 offers a great deal in terms of standard equipment and in available options.

TheCarConnection.com finds so much standard equipment offered on the 2008 Land Rover LR3 that the options list doesn't seem too short.

Cars.com reports that "two [Land Rover LR3] trim levels are available: SE and step-up HSE." Some of what is optional on the former is standard on the latter.

For example, Cars.com states that a "navigation system and bi-xenon headlights are standard on [Land Rover LR3] HSE," while these are options for the SE. Kelley Blue Book details the following standard equipment for the base SE trim: "advanced four-wheel-disc braking system, power sunroof, leather seating, electronic stability control, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Harman/Kardon stereo with CD, power driver's and passenger's seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and front, front side-impact and three-row side-curtain airbags."

Cars.com reports that "a DVD-based navigation system with offroad capability is available" in the Land Rover LR3, while ConsumerGuide notes that "heated front and rear seats are optional for all," and that "adaptive headlights are optional for HSE."

Kelley Blue Book indicates that a 2008 Land Rover LR3 "Cold Climate Package adds heated first and second-row seating, heated windshield washer jets and a heated windshield," and a "Technology Package includes DVD navigation, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Bluetooth."

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