By on June 28, 2005

The Land Rover LR3: steady as she goes. There comes a point in every enthusiast's life when it's time to slow down– at least until some of the penalty points on their license expire. To avoid a complete loss of personal mobility, hamstrung throttle jockeys often find themselves transitioning into a slower vehicle. Not being attuned to The Ways of the Sloth, these once and future speed demons usually slide into some po-faced laggard. Bad move. The miserable car nut simply ends up thrashing the horseless carriage until it reaches extralegal velocities. If you have to go slow, there's only one way to go: the Land Rover LR3.

The LR3 is Oxycontin on wheels. Here's the pharmacology: command seating, a light and airy cabin, widescreen windscreen, superior sound system, silken slushbox, progressive brakes and roll-suppressing air suspension. Press the right pedal and the British-made SUV doesn't administer the G-force jolt pistonheads crave. Instead, it unleashes something just as intoxicating: a seamless surge of forward progress known to the luxury-class cognoscenti as "imperious wafting". Within minutes, driving slowly is as sensually satisfying as lying in a hot tub after a long day's work. Ten minutes later and the "go-faster" part of your brain goes numb.

All the angular aerodynamic of a brick.  And?The LR3's ability to inflict stately progress on unsuspecting hooligans stems from Land Rover's "integrated body-frame". This unique steel and aluminum platform combines the strength of a traditional ladder frame chassis with the rigidity of a hi-tech monocoque. It also weighs a bloody ton. Make that THREE tons. Even with a 4.4-liter, 300hp V8 chuntering away under the bonnet, the highly gravitational LR3 is significantly less than swift. The fact that it's shaped like a Sub-Zero refrigerator certainly doesn't help matters, but contemplating the LR3's aerodynamic deficiencies is like worrying about putting a teaspoon of sugar into your coffee after annihilating a piece of cheesecake.

Side effects: poor fuel economy. Land Rover's clinically obese SUV is one of the last true gas hogs. I can't remember the last time I saw "6.5" on a mpg display. OK, I generated the numbers during a crawl-blat-crawl through the urban jungle carrying a truck full of rug rats and six bags of cedar mulch with the AC on full blast. And I eventually managed to eke out 14mpg on the highway, sans sprogs and climate control, doing the double nickel (and not a penny more). Even so, the LR3's single digit fuel consumption matches the burn rate achieved whilst chasing a Ferrari Enzo in a Lamborghini Murcielago. Up a mountain. That's… awesome.

Off-roading for the Fischer Price generation.  Twist and play!Prognosis: off-road nirvana. The heavyweight LR3 is robust enough to transform an Oregonian survivalist into a weekend commuter. The SUV's four-wheel-drive system (complete with four-wheel traction control) is a boat anchor for the sporting-minded driver, but it's utterly effective over slippery surfaces. When it comes to the genuine rough stuff, the LR3 boasts the kind of approach and departure angles that would terrify an aircraft carrier pilot. It's also equipped with enough traction, suspension, gearbox, braking and GPS gizmology to keep an airborne navigator occupied for a week.

Or not. Amateur adventurers need only program their destination into the LR3's sat nav– be it on road or off– and dial-in the appropriate terrain using the "set and forget" knob in the center console. The LR3's computer automatically keeps track of where you are and how you got there (in case you want to go back), and tweaks all the electronic systems to suit the surface conditions (or lack thereof). Pedants may get a bit twitchy driving over recently-sanded highways with drifting snow, but the rest of us will appreciate the de-skilling of the whole Mountain Man shtick.

A motorized mountain goat; no if's, and's or butts about it. I digress. While I'm sure plenty of people will use the LR3's brandatory off-road prowess to find an out-of-the-way place to smoke pot and shag, most LR3 buyers will probably be of the soccer Mom persuasion. The LR3 offers these domestic engineers a second row that's more accommodating than a Tokyo hotel room and fold-flat third row seats that don't demand anatomical origami. The LR3's cabin materials are perfectly practical, pleasingly tactile and totally intuitive. Inexcusably, the family-sized SUV lacks a rear seat DVD system. Land Rover's CEO should be barred from watching Manchester United soccer games until he corrects this glaring deficiency.

Speed freaks would probably prefer to give up their collection of widescreen TV's than consider helming a beast as fundamentally ponderous as the Land Rover LR3. In this they're wrong. Not only is the LR3 an acceptable form of automotive intervention for those who need it, but it also provides some the best four-wheeled feel-good factor money can buy. Of course, this is the worst of all possible times for Land Rover to be producing a gas-guzzling SUV like the LR3. Which means it's the best of all possible times to purchase one: a buyer's market, like none before. Enthusiasts would be well-advised to strike now, while their license is hot.

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7 Comments on “Land Rover LR3 HSE Review...”

  • avatar

    Nice looking box. Are these things reliable? CR says all black dots on their other models. Are they really that bad, because I would love to have one of these.

  • avatar

    Depends on what day the SUV was built.

  • avatar

    I have 18,700 miles on mine and its great. the biggest issue is tire wear. rotate every 5K and expect to replace tires at 22K or so. Warranty is a good one for 50K miles

  • avatar

    Oh and CR is always tough on Land rovers. If you read the detailed review its somewhat accurate. This is really a vehicle that can go off road while most of the lux SUVs shouldnt

  • avatar

    This is a pretty fair review, however allow me to polish it.
    I have had a LR3 HSE loaded to the brim for a year now. I’ve had it through a southern Ontario winter which is moderate as winters go (a bit of everything snow, ice, freezing rain and cold).
    I woudn’t call this vehicle slow. Off the line it is, but anyone who would rod a vehicle like this around should’nt be driving it.
    I drive my mint black Mustang GT ragtop when my hormones rage.
    Once its out of 2nd gear it is quite fast, especially on the highway. It merges with incredible pickup as long as one know how to keep the revs correct.
    The single digit mileage only occured for the first month and a half. After breakin, in the city I get an honest 13 to 15 MPG@ 40 MPH/ highway 18 to 22 MPG @ 70MPH.
    Last autumn I had the fortune of attending the Land Rover Experience driving school in Montebello, Quebec, for 6 hours of one on one, spine tingling thrill driving. Geographically this is an area of wild low mountains. It was a experience for sure. We used one of Landrover’s vehicles, identical to mine even with stock tires. This truck literally went over and through anything. Extended 45 degree inclines and declines over boulders and mud was the order of the day. Churning through mud bogs was effortless. At times I had the vehicle pitched down as well to the side 45 degrees. When I held the vehicle in this position the instructor opened one of the doors to demonstrate how easily it opened and closed. This truck does not flex at all, even in such a insane position. How it didn’t roll over is beyond me. The ‘auto hill descent’ mode was beyond belief. He got out and took many photos of me driving along the course.
    The gadgets are amazing in this truck, from the voice activated controls to the heated windshield to the console fridge. There are to many to list here.
    One thing I will point out, a DVD system is available from the factory. Perhaps the earlier ones did not have this available.
    I had a dealer installed (2 flip down ceiling mounted screens) installed in mine. I can play any combo of DVD, ipod video or gaming console on either of the screens. This in conjunction with the factory Harmon Kardon multi user audio system (this allow up to six people listening to different audio signals at any one time). I never have a problem with the kids anymore.
    This is one well built rig, with tons of cargo area and extreme comfort.

  • avatar

    I’ve had a LR3 (V8 SE) for about a year and half now (it’s a 06). I think 0-60mph in 8.5s is anything but slow for a 7,700lb machine.
    The only complaint that I have about my LR3 is the wear of the breaks. I shouldn’t be needing new front rotors at 23,000 miles. One could say that this may be due to the way I drive but last SUV I owned had 70,000 miles on it before I needed new rotors.

  • avatar

    I have to admit they look nice, but what are they good for? It looks like you could high-center on pea-gravel and those low-profile radials would be like putting knobbies on my sportbike. It looks like just another overpriced pimp-mobile to me. I’ll stick with my Jeep, instead….and buy a Miata with the change.

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