Built on an all-new platform, Land Rover's LR3 replaced the Discovery for 2005. Seating up to seven occupants, the LR3 can be equipped with a Jaguar-derived 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 that's been altered to handle severe offroad conditions. Terrain Response technology has five terrain settings for on-road to extreme offroad conditions.
Two trim levels are available: SE and step-up HSE. Third-row seating is now standard in the HSE model, which includes a 550-watt Harman Kardon Logic7 audio system with 14 speakers.
For 2007, leather trim, a power sunroof and a 240-watt Harman Kardon nine-speaker sound system come standard. All V-8 models are now equipped with three-row, seven-passenger seating, and the V-6 SE's aluminum alloy wheels have a new design this model year. The driver's seat now comes with a power lumbar adjuster, and the front passenger seat comes with a one-touch power window. The turn-signal switch has a new three-flash position to facilitate easy lane changes, and a clock has been added to the driver's instrument panel.
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 front fascia and a split tailgate that echo the company's flagship Range Rover's features. A power sunroof and separate rear glass roof panels are installed. Optional adaptive headlights turn to illuminate road curves, and a low access setting permits easier entry and exit.
Seating for five occupants is standard, but the HSE can seat up to seven. Rear occupants enjoy stadium-style seating. The second- and third-row seats fold flat. A DVD-based navigation system with offroad capability is available.
A rotary switch selects from five Terrain Response settings. One is for normal driving, a second is for slippery conditions, and the remaining three are offroad settings for mud, sand and rock crawling.
Under the Hood
Enlarged from a Jaguar engine, the 4.4-liter V-8 develops 300 hp and drives a six-speed automatic transmission. Permanent four-wheel drive is standard. The available 4.0-liter V-6 develops 216 hp. A height-adjustable air-spring suspension is standard.
Antilock brakes and an electronic parking brake are installed. Side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows are standard. Separate side curtains are included to protect third-row occupants.
It takes a while to get accustomed to its controls and idiosyncrasies, but the LR3 is an excellent touring machine that's well ahead of its Discovery predecessor. In addition to an impressive selection of offroad features, this squared-off SUV boasts a beautifully refined powertrain that shifts gears smoothly and has no shortage of V-8 power.
The seats are comfortable and supportive despite firm cushioning. Many of the bewildering controls may seldom be used, but the suspension's access setting helps ease entry and exit. The taut suspension yields a firm ride; it's pleasant on the highway and acceptable on urban pavement. Parking the LR3 could be easier, but this SUV maneuvers adeptly with satisfying steering feel. Little correction is needed to stay on course, but the LR3 does demand close attention.