Full 2008 Land Rover LR3 Review
What's New for 2008
The overwhelmed V6 engine has been dropped, leaving the 4.4-liter V8 as the 2008 Land Rover LR3's only available engine. An eight-way power passenger seat is now standard on both LR3 trims, while the HSE trim gains a standard power-adjustable tilt steering wheel with memory. The HSE's optional Luxury package now includes special upgraded leather upholstery.
In the beginning there were Jeep and Land Rover. After World War II, the chief designer of British carmaker Rover was so impressed with a war surplus Jeep he purchased that he designed his own four-wheel-drive vehicle, which eventually inspired the first Land Rovers. From Kent and Kenya to Colorado and Calcutta, Land Rovers would become the go-to vehicle the world over for adventures taken off the safe confines of pavement. The 2008 Land Rover LR3 embodies this legacy and adds the luxury niceties expected by today's SUV buyers. These consumers aren't looking at the LR3 as a means of taking on off-road extremes but as everyday family transportation.
In that regard, the LR3 delivers with standard seven-passenger capacity and three spacious seating rows arranged in "stadium" format to give its occupants a clear view of whatever lies ahead. The standard dual sunroofs also give them a clear view of whatever lies above. For those in frequent need of big-time stuff-hauling capacity, the LR3's high roof and fold-absolutely-flat rear seats provide a tremendously useful cargo area.
As a luxury vehicle, the LR3 provides the sort of features we expect from this competitive segment. However, the interior quality lags behind vehicles like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GL450, with a few low-budget plastics and an overall design that's more in line with Land Rover's rugged history than its luxury one. Also, our long-term test of an LR3 generally confirmed the brand's reputation for spotty quality and reliability. Consumers who buy the LR3 shouldn't be surprised if they end up on a first-name basis with their Land Rover service writer.
While the 2008 Land Rover LR3 may not be a perfectly refined luxury family hauler like a Q7, Volvo XC90 or Acura MDX, it offers an unparalleled rugged image and serious off-road capabilities to back it up. If dirt roads, rutted trails and all-terrain adventures are frequent destinations for your family, it's hard to think of an SUV better-suited for the task than the Land Rover LR3.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Land Rover LR3 is a midsize SUV capable of seating seven passengers. It is offered in two trim levels: SE and HSE. The SE comes standard with 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, three seating rows, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt (but not telescoping) steering wheel, a power tilt-and-slide front sunroof, a fixed rear sunroof and a nine-speaker stereo with in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack. Options on the SE include bi-xenon headlights, front parking sensors, voice-activated trip computer, Bluetooth, a center console cooler box and a DVD-based navigation system that has mapping capability for both on- and off-road.
These items come standard on the HSE, which further adds 19-inch wheels, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system and a power-tilt steering wheel. The HSE's Luxury package adds higher-grade leather upholstery and adaptive headlights, as well as the contents of the Cold Climate package (front and rear heated seats, heated windshield washer jets and a heated windshield). The Cold Climate group is available as a stand-alone item on both trim levels. Satellite radio is a stand-alone option on both LR3 models, as is the Heavy Duty Package, which provides a locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 LR3 is powered by a 4.4-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system. Using a rotary knob, the driver can select one of five settings (general, snow-grass-gravel, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl) that optimizes everything for the conditions at hand, from throttle response to the differentials. The LR3 also features a fully independent suspension, which utilizes electronically controlled air springs to automatically adapt to virtually any terrain or off-road challenge. When properly equipped, the LR3 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Safety features on the 2008 Land Rover LR3 include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control with rollover mitigation technology, hill-descent control, front-seat side airbags and three-row head curtain airbags. Rear parking sensors are included on all LR3s, while front bumper sensors are standard on the HSE and optional on the SE. Adaptive headlights, which "look" around corners and adjust up and down to counter the effects of hard braking, are also available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Land Rover has a style all its own and it's on display inside the LR3. Although filled with luxury features, there's a general rough-and-tumble ambience that's been passed down through decades of adventure-seeking Land Rovers. The center stack is awash with black buttons and knobs, resembling some sort of navigational control panel from a yacht. That's not necessarily a good thing, though, as simple operations can be a little confusing. Also, our testing experiences have shown that build quality isn't universally solid. In terms of everyday usability, the LR3 shines, with fold-flat second- and third-row seats, and a vast cargo space with a maximum of 90 available cubic feet. A commanding driving position and elevated "stadium" seating give the driver and passengers a clear view of the road (or trail) ahead.
Even with 300 hp on tap, the hefty Land Rover LR3 is no rocket, especially when carrying a full load of passengers. Thanks to solid performance from the six-speed transmission, though, there is always adequate power available underfoot. Communicative feedback from the steering lends the Rover a crisp feel behind the wheel, and a tight turning radius makes it fairly maneuverable in parking lots. However, the vehicle's high center of gravity gives it a somewhat tippy feel when negotiating corners. The advanced suspension makes for a comfortable ride on the highway, though. With the sophisticated four-wheel-drive system, there's also plenty of traction if you ever feel the need to go exploring off-road.