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For decades, Land Rover SUVs were known primarily for their utility and off-road prowess. During the 1980s, they became more luxurious, but their ability in the dirt has never been in question.
A prime example of this change was the Land Rover LR3, which replaced the aging Discovery. The old "Disco" was long on utility but a little shy on amenities. The LR3 offered a lot more style. Unfortunately, it still suffered from an underwhelming engine, quirky ergonomics and a poor reputation for reliability.
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 a used Land Rover LR3. But if you'll be sticking primarily to pavement, other luxury SUVs like the Acura MDX or Lexus RX 350 will be better choices.
Most Recent Land Rover LR3 Models
The Land Rover LR3 was produced from 2005-'09. Originally, there were SE and HSE trim levels. The SE came standard with a 216-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 (we would avoid this), while the HSE got a 300-hp 4.4-liter V8. The V8 became standard on all LR3s for 2008. The HSE trim essentially became an option package in the final production year. Aside from the third-row seat becoming standard on the HSE for '06 and in the SE for '08, other changes were limited to additional standard features.
Though smaller than the Range Rover, Land Rover's midsize LR3 was still capable. V8 versions could tow up to 7,700 pounds and the LR3 was hard to beat off-road. All variants came standard with fully independent adjustable air suspension and a host of electronic off-road aids. Combined with a locking center differential, an optional electronic rear locker and the LR3's new Terrain Response system, this truck had the ability to climb boulders in a single bound.
At the same time, the LR3 also provided a useful interior as well. There was seating for seven adult passengers and both the second- and third-row seats folded flat to make cargo-hauling easier. The cabin design was a tad utilitarian and lacked the luxurious ambience of its competitors or its successor, the LR4. Another downside was the chaotic mess of little buttons spread upon the dash that could be confusing to use at a glance.
Other than being underpowered given its hefty curb weight, there were few complaints about the way the LR3 drove. It delivered the kind of tight, refined ride we expected from a luxury SUV and the steering provided excellent road feel and more feedback than many of its competitors. A tight turning circle and an effective power assist kept it nimble in parking lots.
In reviews, we were endlessly impressed with the Land Rover LR3's capabilities off-road and continuously surprised at how well it performed on road. However, besides the above concerns, there's also the matter of its thirst for fuel and poor record for reliability. As such, buying an out-of-warranty LR3 without being close friends with a Land Rover mechanic is not the wisest idea.