Two worlds collide to create the LR3, a sensible combination of the ultimate 4x4 capability with practicality. Sure, it drives over sand, moguls, rocks, and up and down steep hills but if a monster vehicle can't keep up with my suburban life, what's the point?
Learning about this car is like studying for college final exams. After a few hours of lectures (from the manufacturer's website) and note taking, I am ready for the test (drive). There's a lot to learn about the LR3 and I strongly encourage new drivers to research it before taking it out on the road.
I even take my studies a step further and venture off-road to try out the Terrain Response System (new to the LR3) which includes on-road driving, snow, mud, sand, and rocks. The dial is located near the gear shift and is really user-friendly. Simply turn the dial, and the LR3 will electronically respond to the surface. There is also a hill descent button for driving down steep hills.
The LR3 has a goodie bag of fun features: two cubbies in the cargo area, audio hook ups at each passenger seat, two glove compartments (one small and one large), a large console that can be upgraded to a cooler to accommodate six cans, and ginourmous* cupholders with mug-handle slots located throughout and in each door. *(Ginormous is a non-word combining gigantic and enormous, according to merriamwebster.com).
Excellent legroom, headroom and the overall open area makes the interior seem light, airy and less boxy. There are also three, count them, three sky roofs: one in the front that can open two ways and one each in the middle and back that don't open. Each comes with a retractable sun screen.
One thing that stumps me is how to find the gas cap. It takes me 15 minutes to figure out I have to push the door to open it. Push-the-door! I'm furious that something so simple a task is going to make me late to my appointment. However, I do appreciate the simplicity of not having to pull a lever or push a button. The owner's manual (for as much information as it has) could be better organized to find information (such as this).
Another frustration I have is with the Park Distance Control feature. On paper this idea is great, but in reality it's difficult at times. When I put the car in reverse the side-view mirrors automatically move down and over providing an excellent view of the blind spot near the rear of the car (to show small objects that might be in danger of being run over). However, when I just want to pull out of a parking space the mirrors won't re-adjust the way I want them to be so I can better see if I'm going to hit a car as I pull out. Now, in case I am close to hitting a car, the PDC will beep. Perhaps it is just a matter of getting used to this new system?
Seven-passenger seating is possible with the sixth and seventh pop-up seats in the back cargo area. In order to fold the seats up and down I have to climb into the back area to maneuver them. Because the seats are theater-style, each row sits higher than the next allowing for a downward vision, which is supposed to combat motion sickness.
The second row accommodates three passengers, comfortably. There are only two Latch connectors on the outer seats, although three child car seats can easily fit. Each seat in the second row also flips down. According to Landrover.com, there are over 100 combinations for seating in the seven passenger model.
Low gas mileage, oversized surface area and lack of NHTSA crash test ratings create some hesitation in rating this as a great family car. Having to "gas up" once to twice a week is just another errand on my overflowing to-do list; the large size of this car makes it impossible to park in the garage, and not knowing how it ranks in real life crash tests makes me not care so much about having the all-terrain system.
There are many more tricks and treats to the LR3 that can keep me going. For the comfortable seating, extreme cargo space and easy-to-use controls, the LR3 keeps up with my average mom life and makes it a little more fun getting there, despite a few hesitations.
*For more information on the LR3 and its safety features visit Cars.com..
Let's Talk Numbers
LATCH connectors: 2
Passenger seating (including driver): 7
It's the Little Things That Count
Storage Compartments (puny, fair, ample, galore): ample
Cargo/Trunk Space(puny, fair, ample, galore): galore
Sense and Style
Family Friendly (not really, fair, great, excellent): fair-great
Fun-Factor (None, some, good times, groove-on): good times