Jon Rosner, Fri, 5 May 2006 08:00:00 PDT
Ah, the lap of luxury. Perched on high in my leather throne driving down the interstate in morning rush-hour traffic while listening to the Louis Armstrong belt out a raspy "Hello Dolly" ~ the feeling of being cosseted is quite helpful. Traffic moves haltingly as smaller cars dart in and out like a running back who gains minimal yardage. This big silver box is designed to carry five adults and two small people (with very short legs, jumpseat style) through African backcountry, fording rivers with water lapping across the hood or as emergency transportation.
While owning up to being a Charter Member of the "I hate SUVs Club," I'll admit that the LR3 really grew on me. The simple lines that make up the exterior, the precise fit of the panels are understated. The soft touch plastics of the dash, the easy to see and use controls, aluminum-looking knob that controls vehicle suspension settings which let you crawl down a mountain without have to tap your brakes IS made of aluminum, and not a cheap plastic imitation.
The kids loved the big windows and that they could see everything that was going on around them. The engine was quiet and turbine smooth as was the 6-speed automatic transmission. The kids seemed noisier in the back seat, but that was in part because the outside racket was insultated in the 2006 Land Rover LR3.
The suspension is soft when in the on-road setting, and the first fast corner yields an amount of sway that was surprising, but the tires never let a chirp, and it quickly became apparent that you do not drive a Land Rover like a sports car. But once you get a sense of the height and size of the LR3 it is very easy to drive quickly on any road.
Which is exactly what we did. With the torquey 4.4 liter aluminum alloy V-8 we averaged 15 mpg with the LR3, versus the EPA ratings of 14/18. Not as good as the latest sedans we have driven. Folding the third row seats flat, we stuffed the LR3 with the same junk we usually need our full-size van to carry.
The 2006 Land Rover LR3 has to be the most satisfying SUV we have had in a long time. Huge 255/55 HR 19 tires added to the substantial ground clearance. With wheelbase at 114 inches and a tow capacity of 7,700 pounds.
The base price was $52,985, additional options we had were the heavy-duty package $625.00, the luxury package with adaptive front lighting system, the cold climate package, and the center console and the cooler box, for a sub-total of $1,750.00. CA Emissions came to $100.00 along with inland transport at $715.00, for a grand total of $56,175.00. I can't really explain it but I may have to rip up my Charter Membership in the "I Hate SUVs Club!"