|Since its first appearance, I've always admired the boxy styling of this true SUV.|
More paint for 2009
Stylistically, little about the LR3 has changed for 2009 except for the addition of body-coloured paint on surfaces previously unpainted, such as fender flares, bumpers and skirting. Presumably these surfaces were in the past unpainted to eliminate marring from off-road use.
The reality is most LR3s will see nothing more menacing than mall parking lots, so finishing the entire body in paint is not likely cause for concern. It transports the LR3 from bush to boulevard.
Since its first appearance, I've always admired the boxy styling of this true SUV. It retains sufficient Land Rover DNA and uniqueness to not be mistaken for anything other than a Land Rover, and frankly that carries with it a certain cachet not found in domestic and Japanese offerings.
Unique interior design is truly functional
Land Rovers have always had their quirkiness when it comes to elements of design and function. The LR3 continues this tradition but with greater conventionality than we've seen in past generations. All switchgear mechanism is large enough to operate while wearing gloves or when being jostled about the cab during off-road sessions.
Primary off-road controls, including downhill descent control and low-range gearing, are clustered nicely together on the centre console. A large rotary dial enables the off-road layman to select the most appropriate suspension and transmission setting by simply matching one of the multiple weather/road symbols with the driving conditions encountered, such as snow, sand, hills etc.
Like it's predecessor the Discovery, the LR3's boxy shape provides outstanding cargo space that's not inhibited by a swooping roofline or sleek body shape. The new two-piece rear gate is a vast improvement upon the old one-piece unit that was hinged on the passenger side of the vehicle causing it to open toward the curb rather than away from it (unless of course one is in the UK).
Despite its recessed third row seating, the LR3's load floor is as flat as the prairies. This ensures easy loading of bulky cargo. The two independent third row seats are wickedly awkward to access but remarkably accommodating once the trek to secure them has been accomplished.
|Despite its recessed third row seating, the LR3's load floor is as flat as the prairies.|
V8 engine delivers strong performance
Although the base LR3 engine in Canada is 4.0-litre 216 horsepower V6, my tester benefited from the extra hostility imparted by a 300 horsepower 4.4-litre V8, bragging a maximum torque output of 315 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm.
|Mountain roads hold little challenge for the V8 powerplant as well, which is as smooth and quiet as they come.|
This silky-smooth mill is adhered to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to spinning the proper gear at the proper time. And because the LR3 is a "true" Land Rover, a low-range transfer case ensures that no hill or quagmire is sufficiently arduous to impede progress.
On the road, the V8-powered LR3 quite easily manages its significant mass when pulling away from a stop sign or domineering the passing lane; mountain roads hold little challenge for the V8 powerplant as well, which is as smooth and quiet as they come.
Comfy ride leads to sluggish handling
The LR3 delivers a remarkably smooth ride for a rugged vehicle bearing a 'Land Rover' label. In fact I would describe its ability to quash the harshness of broken pavement and ugly potholes as notably pleasurable for a 4X4 however the price for such comfort is paid for in the corners.
The LR3 is not unwieldy by any definition but it's also not as athletic in the curves as some competitors. But guess what? I don't care. I doubt that buyers of LR3s are looking for pavement-searing handling thresholds. As far as I'm concerned, Land Rover succeeded in properly balancing ride quality with handling ability when engineering the LR3's underpinnings.
Ruggedness has never been so un-rugged
It's not necessary to cross the Kalahari Desert or climb the Rocky Mountains to verify the LR3's ruggedness; the credibility is in its genes. What a ride though an urbanized jungle does substantiate is the tremendous luxury and comfort imparted by this premium traveler.
I was quite taken with the ease in which the LR3 can be piloted through heavily congested streets. It's a simple rig to administer. Sight lines are broad and unimpeded thanks to huge expanses of glass and a high seating position, which is typical of Land Rover.
|What a ride though an urbanized jungle does substantiate is the tremendous luxury and comfort imparted by this premium traveler.|
Given its commodious interior volume, the LR3 isn't nearly as massive outside as one might think. As an SUV, the LR3 serves-up some serious off-road ability. As a luxurious ride, it raises the bar. As an affordable, economical rig, it falls far short. The LR3 HSE as tested starts at $64,200.
To make financial matters worse, the V8-powered LR3 is rated at 17.2 and 11.5L/100km of city and highway driving respectively, and that's with premium fuel. But if the financial wherewithal is in your wallet and your needs justify this vehicle's presence in your driveway, it's hard to beat it in terms of comfort and competency, not to mention capacity.
|The LR3 delivers a remarkably smooth ride for a rugged vehicle bearing a 'Land Rover' label.|