Land Rover's LR3 can hold up to seven, and for 2008 the only engine available is a Jaguar-derived 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 that's been changed to handle severe offroad conditions. Terrain Response technology has five terrain settings for on-road to extreme offroad conditions. The LR3 competes with the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class on the road, but the Hummer H2 is probably its best competition when it comes to high-end offroad prowess.
Two trim levels are available: SE and step-up HSE. Three-row seating is standard for all 2008 LR3s; leather seating surfaces for the first and second rows, eight-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, and a sunroof are also standard.
A 240-watt Harman Kardon nine-speaker sound system is standard, and HSE models get a 550-watt Harman Kardon six-disc system with 14 speakers. The turn-signal switch has a three-flash position to facilitate easy lane changes, and the finish on the bezels for the speakers, air vents, shift knob and glove box release is new for 2008.
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 face and a split tailgate in back that echo the company's flagship Range Rover. A power sunroof and separate rear glass roof panels are installed. A low-access setting permits easier entry and exit.
For 2008, all LR3s can seat up to seven. Rear passengers enjoy stadium-style seating, and 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. A height-adjustable air-spring suspension is standard.
Antilock brakes and an electronic parking brake are installed. In addition to the required front airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows are standard, and 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.