2009 Land Rover LR3 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
May 3, 2009

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.

TheCarConnection.com looked to several of the most respected sources when compiling this comprehensive review of the 2009 Land Rover LR3. Additionally, for this Bottom Line, TheCarConnection.com's editors include their own firsthand driving experience and knowledge of the luxury SUV segment to bring you an especially insightful take.

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.

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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.

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2009 Land Rover LR3

Styling

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 has all the right rugged good looks.

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 stands out from the SUV pack because it looks at home on city streets. It's a handsome vehicle, to be sure.

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," reports Cars.com. The 2009 Land Rover LR3 borrows key styling cues from its larger showroom companion, the Range Rover. Kelley Blue Book notes that "viewed from the front, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the 2009 [Land Rover] LR3 for its big brother, the Range Rover," and 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." Edmunds says the Land Rover LR3 "offers an unparalleled rugged image."

The 2009 LR3's interior styling ranks among the most distinctive in any SUV. ConsumerGuide remarks that "the lack of wood and other fancy trim leans to upscale outdoorsy rather than uptown opulent." Kelley Blue Book says that the interior "faithfully conveys the [Land Rover] LR3's overall balance of luxury and capability." Edmunds opines that the 2009 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."

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2009 Land Rover LR3

Performance

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 has plenty of electronic and computerized wizardry to make this tall SUV capable off-road and keep it under control on-road.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Land Rover LR3 performs well off-road and decently overall—but others in its class may outshine it.

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 is powered by a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8. The LR3 has gutsy acceleration with the requisite six-speed automatic transmission. Higher-end trims designed for sport also have a central-locking differential that engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2009 Land Rover LR3's engine "packs the power and smoothness we expect from a Land Rover," but they'd "like to see a little quicker throttle response when moving from a stop." Edmunds warns that "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 it "has no shortage of V-8 power."

There are few complaints about the Land Rover LR3's transmission. ConsumerGuide notes that the 2009 Land Rover LR3's "transmission is slow to downshift on hills," adding that "throttle response changes with the transfer-case setting," and it is "less sensitive in low range for better off-road control." Cars.com, however, 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 reports fuel economy is "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." MotherProof simply calls the Land Rover LR3 what it is: "a gas guzzler."

"The taut suspension yields a firm ride; it's pleasant on the highway and acceptable on urban pavement," says Cars.com of the 2009 LR3. The reviewer also adds that it "maneuvers adeptly with satisfying steering feel...little correction is needed to stay on course." Overall, however, 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.

A four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2009 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."

Kelley Blue Book calls it a "well-mannered day-to-day driving experience." ConsumerGuide notes that "overall the 2009 [Land Rover] LR3 is comfortably absorbent over bumps big and small," but "dips and wavy surfaces induce some residual bobbing." Edmunds attests 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."

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2009 Land Rover LR3

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 is a mixed bag: lots of seats but no good way to get to them, and plenty of cool features that have confusing, frustrating controls.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com love the overall space available in the 2009 Land Rover LR3—but a few points could be better designed for usability.

ConsumerGuide explains that the 2009 Land Rover LR3 "offers a commanding driving position with comfortable and upright seats." According to Cars.com, "Eight-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats...are standard." The reviewer also notes that the "seats are comfortable and supportive despite firm cushioning."

ConsumerGuide points out that the LR3 "is the only Land Rover with seven-passenger seating." Second- and third-row seats are "unusually comfortable, with ample headroom and legroom." The third row is a bit awkward to get into and out of, though "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."

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 has mixed reactions on storage and cargo issues: "some testers say it complicates loading and unloading, while others praise its versatility." MotherProof, however, declares that cargo space 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 also point out "two glove compartments and mucho cupholders."

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 distinguishes itself from the previous year's model by costing a lot less in its base version. Fortunately, however, nothing seems to have been ignored. ConsumerGuide 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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2009 Land Rover LR3

Safety

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 offers a good list of safety features—but crash-test ratings are needed to know for sure.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com note that the 2009 Land Rover LR3 has plenty of safety features—but no crash-test results to back it up.

At this time, the 2009 Land Rover LR3 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Edmunds asserts, "Safety features on the 2009 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." 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 also notes 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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2009 Land Rover LR3

Features

The 2009 Land Rover LR3 offers a good list of standard features, especially now that prices are lower.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com find the 2009 Land Rover LR3 to be more or less loaded with features—most of them standard.

For 2009, the Land Rover LR3 lineup has been revamped. The two-model lineup has been expanded to include three members of the family: the base, HSE, and HSE LUX.

Kelley Blue Book details the following standard equipment for the base Land Rover LR3: "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 "a DVD-based navigation system with offroad capability is available" in the Land Rover LR3, while ConsumerGuide points out "heated front and rear seats are optional for all." Cars.com states that a "navigation system and bi-xenon headlights are standard" for higher-end trims.

New for 2009 is a package that includes the third-row seat and rear climate control.

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7.8
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Styling 8
Performance 7
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Features 9
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