It's hard to imagine that a sport-utility priced at $57,950 isn't the top of the line. However, that was the case with Land Rover's LR3 HSE. It cost about $15K less than its more expensive stable mate, the Range Rover.
Still, the hulking SUV combined off road ruggedness with on road finesse. We didn't find any woods around here to go sloshing through with the LR3. But the surface street attributes of the LR3 were admirable.
For this model year, the LR3 has been given a 300 horsepower 4.4 liter V8 as standard equipment. That's one reason for the hefty base price. We found that this engine was powerful and very efficient. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The powertrain was extremely smooth and quiet. Our LR3 lacked that truck like drone that curses many truck based SUVs. Acceleration was great and handling was acceptable.
However, we did sense the LR3's high center of gravity. After all, it is an all terrain sport-utility that really isn't meant to whip around corners. Although the vehicle weighed almost 5,800 lbs, it didn't feel like it which is a testament to the low-end torque of its engine. Our LR3 was pretty spry.
The LR3 had a rugged transmission. It had a two-speed transfer gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive with four-wheel electronic traction control. It also had a terrain response system that can be set for grass, gravel and snow, mud ruts, sand and rock crawl. It also had an electronically controlled infinitely variable locking center and optional rear differential. And for good measure, the LR3's six-speed transmission could be set for normal, sport and manual shifting.
The LR3 had an electronic air suspension with automatic load-leveling and multiple modes. It could lower the vehicle by about two inches, or raise it 2.2 inches for off road travel. And an independent front double-wishbone suspension with long-travel air springs gave it 10 inches of vertical wheel travel. In the rear, vertical wheel travel was 13 inches.
Despite the LR3's off road capabilities, we found it's on road creature comforts and driving characteristics most appealing.
There was a split tail gate and dual zone climate controls. Our test vehicle had third row seats which folded can created a flush cargo floor. We were particularly impressed with the LR3's glass roof. It was divided into three sections, each with its own mesh shade.
Second row seats were comfortable but they were stiff as in new. We'd like to experience them after a little wear. We think they'd be awfully comfortable. Still, we had plenty of head room although leg room was a bit snug.
Our LR3 was equipped with second row climate controls for the air conditioning and heat. But there was no second row entertainment system. Still, the vehicle was chock full of stuff.
It had a 500 watt, 14-speaker audio system with an in dash six disc CD player. There was a touch screen navigation system, a 4X4 information center, steering wheel mounted controls and Bluetooth, which turned our compatible cell phone into a hands free car phone. There was also voice controls for the audio and navigation systems.
About the only quibble we had with the LR3 was the auxiliary button. We expected it to control an iPod or some other auxiliary sound equipment. Instead, it activated satellite radio.
The LR3 certainly cost a decent dollar. But if you're going sloshing through the woods, it would be difficult to find a more capable SUV. And if you're not, properly taken care of, the LR3 is a vehicle you'll probably never have to replace, unless you want to.