2005 Land Rover LR3
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The redesigned British Land Rover LR3 is a big improvement over its Discovery predecessor and is the first Land Rover designed with Americans expressly in mind.
The Discovery had quirky styling, offbeat controls, an underpowered engine and an interior mainly for slightly built Europeans. It even needed an optional suspension to make it handle decently on roads, where most Land Rover driving is done in America.
While the Land Rover name has lots of snob appeal, many folks understandably passed up the expensive Discovery for rival sport-utility vehicles from such automakers as Lexus, BMW and Jeep.
The Discovery, like all Land Rovers, had great off-road abilities, but snob appeal was its major selling feature.
The LR3 is about 6 inches longer, an inch wider, several inches lower and has a wheelbase almost 14 inches longer than the Discovery, which looked top-heavy. The LR3 also is costlier than the Discovery, with list prices of $44,320 and $49,320.
Most Powerful Ever
The engine is hooked to a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift gate that is easy to use. Acceleration is brisk up to 60 mph, and the 65-75 mph passing time is good—although not neck-snapping—because the LR3 is pretty heavy.
Low Fuel Economy
The fuel tank holds 22.8 gallons and the high 10.75:1 engine compression ratios calls for high-octane fuel.
The long LR3 wheelbase allows a spacious area for a set of optional ($1,250) third row seats, which come with a side-curtain airbag that goes with the standard curtain airbag for first- and second-row seats. Up to eight airbags are available.
Room for Seven
The third-row seats are fairly easy to reach and aren't just for kids, as is the case with many sport-ute third seats. Even 6-footers have decent room in them, although there isn't much legroom to spare.
The LR3 is ruggedly built and equipped for serious off-road driving. It has a permanent four-wheel-drive system, separate low-range gearing and locking center differential, with an available locking rear differential. A hill-descent feature takes the worry about going down steep grades.
A new driver-controlled Terrain Response system changes suspension and powertrain electronic calculations to suit general driving and various treacherous on- and off-road slippery conditions—including "rock crawl" during low-speed, off-pavement driving.
Optional adaptive headlights swivel with the direction of travel to illuminate the road.
The power steering is quick, but a little heavy. Handling is good in town and on interstate highways, although quick lane changes and zooming through curves elicits some body sway. After all, the LR3 is a tall (74.1-inch high) sport utility that can't match the sporty on-road handling of, say, the 67.5-inch-high BMW X5.
Comfortable Air Suspension
Braking with the anti-lock, all-disc system is reassuring. While a little soft, the pedal has a nice linear action.
The LR3 has crisper styling than the rather odd-looking Discovery. It looks modern, but isn't especially distinctive despite its split-level roofline. That roofline allows "stadium seating"—each seat row sits higher than the row before it to give occupants a good view out the windshield.
Easily gripped door handles make it easy to enter the quiet, upscale interior, which lets occupants sit high and gaze out of tall windows. Gauge numbers should be larger, but the steering column is adjustable and sound and climate system controls are large. There are plenty of beverage holders and storage areas. And all side windows lower all the way.
A glass liftgate and drop-down tailgate replace the Discovery's awkward swing-out cargo door, which complicated curbside loading. The spare tire is under the trunk and thus no longer is on the outside rear end.
The LR3's more mainstream design should increase Land Rover sales, as should its continuing snob appeal.