For decades, Land Rovers 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 Land Rover Discovery. The old "Disco" was long on utility but a little shy on interior amenities. The LR3 offered a lot more style. Unfortunately, it still suffered from an underwhelming engine, a quirky interior, and a poor reputation for reliability.
If off-roading adventures are a frequent family activity and the thought of owning a pedigreed vehicle 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 models such as the Acura MDX or the Lexus RX 350 will be better choices.
Most Recent Land Rover LR3 Models
The Land Rover LR3 was produced from 2005 to 2009. Originally, there were SE and HSE trim levels. The SE came standard with a 216-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine (we would avoid this), while the HSE got a 300-hp 4.4-liter V8. The V8 engine became standard on all LR3s for 2008, and a six-speed automatic was the only transmission offered throughout the production run. The HSE trim essentially became an option package in the final production year. Aside from the third-row seats 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. With the V8 engine, it could tow up to 7,700 pounds and the LR3 was hard to beat as an off-road vehicle. 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 interior design was a tad utilitarian and lacked the luxurious ambiance of its competitors or its successor, the LR4, and the current Land Rover Discovery. Another downside was the chaotic mess of little buttons spread upon the dash that could be confusing to use at a glance.
Other than having an underpowered engine 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 vehicle, 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. But besides the above concerns, there's also the matter of its poor fuel economy and spotty 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.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Land Rover LR3 page.
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