Full 2009 Land Rover LR3 Review
What's New for 2009
For 2009, Land Rover reduces the LR3 to a single trim level as features are juggled slightly. The previous HSE trim becomes an option package. Other changes include the fitment of 19-inch wheels as well as color-keyed fender flares, bumpers and lower tailgate trim as standard.
The midsize 2009 Land Rover LR3 bridges the gap between the brand's big-bucks Range Rover Sport and the entry-level LR2. Like those other models, the LR3 promises a balance between everyday usability and off-road capability. Being a modern luxury-brand SUV, the LR3 comes with plenty of standard features, three rows of seating arranged "stadium style," an abundance of headroom and a very useful cargo compartment. When the road turns to dirt, the LR3 is at the ready with a 300-horsepower V8, a sophisticated suspension and four-wheel drive.
But due primarily to some cheaper plastic trim, the cabin's overall quality doesn't match that of rivals such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GL450. Furthermore, we had a long-term LR3 a few years back that sadly held up the brand's reputation for spotty quality and reliability -- it was one of the most trouble-prone vehicles we've had in recent memory. Consumers who buy the LR3 shouldn't be surprised if they end up on a first-name basis with their Land Rover service writer.
You might also find that the Land Rover LR3 doesn't excel as a luxury family hauler as well as more on-road-oriented vehicles like the Acura MDX or Audi Q7. But if all-terrain adventures are a frequent family activity, and the thought of owning a pedigreed SUV appeals to you, it's hard to think of a better-suited vehicle for the task than the 2009 Land Rover LR3.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Land Rover LR3 is a midsize SUV. It is offered in a single trim level. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, 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 an in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack.
The available HSE package adds front and rear parking sensors, a Cold Climate group (front and rear heated seats, heated windshield-washer jets and a heated windshield), Bluetooth, a power-tilt steering wheel, satellite radio and a navigation system that has mapping capability for both on- and off-road.
Springing for the HSE LUX package adds Land Rover's adaptive bi-xenon headlights, higher-grade leather upholstery, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, a center-console cooler box and driver memory settings.
Some of the package features, such as the Cold Climate group and Bluetooth, are available à la carte. Also optional are a rear-seat entertainment system, a third-row seat, and a Heavy Duty package (locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 LR3 is powered by a 4.4-liter V8 that makes 300 hp 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 optimize everything for the conditions at hand, from throttle response to the differentials. The LR3 also features a fully independent suspension that utilizes electronically controlled air springs to automatically adapt to virtually any terrain or off-road challenge. This heavy SUV is expectedly thirsty. Fuel mileage ratings stand at 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the LR3 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Safety features on the 2009 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 come with the HSE package.
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 rugged 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 (available) 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 (nearly 6,000-pound) 2009 Land Rover LR3 is no rocket, especially when carrying a full load of passengers. Thanks to quick-thinking performance from the six-speed transmission, though, there is always adequate power available underfoot.
Communicative feedback from the steering lends the LR3 a crisp feel behind the wheel, and a tight turning circle makes it fairly maneuverable in parking lots and campgrounds. 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.