You're looking at a sport/utility that'll change the way you think about the compromises between on-road refinement and off-road ability. You're looking at a sport/utility that combines snap-click functionality with ice-cool 21st-century designer chic: Imagine a Leatherman tool by Bang & Olufsen. You're looking at the Land Rover LR3, our 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year. Did we say Land Rover? Uh-huh. It's going to change the way you think about that as well.
Interior: Seats seven with ease, including six-footers in the third row. Rear seats fold t
Let's start with the visuals. Forget traditional SUV cliches such as bolt-on cladding, fake runningboards, and monster-truck grilles--the chiseled shape and sheer surfaces are a nod to Land Rover's utilitarian past, yet executed with such care and flair that the LR3 looks like it's driven straight off the designer's CAD screen. Which it pretty much has: "Look at an early sketch of the LR3, and the design hasn't changed," says Land Rover design director Geoff Upex. The bookend creases front and rear and the asymmetric detailing--the air-intake vent on the right-hand side and the dipping window line on the split tailgate--are clever and confident styling touches.
There's function behind the form, however. There's only one intake vent because that's all that's required. It's always handy to have a tailgate (rated to 650 pounds) on which to eat a sandwich, access the roof rack, or use as a work surface. But the LR3 tailgate's asymmetric shape means it's also easier to lift items over it when it's up and easier to lean into the cargo area to retrieve stowed items when it's down.
Similar thoughtfulness extends to the LR3's interior accommodations and packaging. The materials are rugged in their function yet premium to the touch. Beautifully stitched, perforated leather contrasts textured, black rubber and metallic-toned plastic accents. Rational ergonomics dominate the layout of the LR3's controls, rejecting unnecessarily complex plasma-screen multisystems that sometimes require several layers of menus to adjust something as simple as the air-conditioner's fan speed. In the LR3, a button is a button and a knob is a knob, and they work in ways people are comfortable with. End of learning curve.
The seven-seat interior is comfortable and useful, boasting no fewer than 30 combinations of passengers and stuff. Five seats fold flat for up to 90.3 cubic feet of cargo capability, yet each position can accommodate a 95th-percentile adult (six feet two inches and 215 pounds), even in the third-row. The 113.6-inch wheelbase means the rear door apertures are much wider and more generous than the slit-like openings of the Discovery.
A cooler in the central cubby box keeps drinks chilled, and an optional state-of-the-art DVD navigation system shows even topographic contours and drops retraceable "breadcrumbs" when off-road. The nav system's seven-inch high-res color screen also shows the direction the front wheels are pointed (handy to know in sloppy mud, on deep sand, and over big rocks). And it'll tell you which differentials are active or locked, the degree of suspension articulation, and the height of the air-suspension settings. Ever wonder how tall your truck is? Land Rover has printed a diagram showing exactly that information on the driver's sunvisor. Got sunroofs? How about three, although only the front one opens.
Engine: Jaguar- derived 4.4-liter V-8 endured 12 weeks of testing at Nardo for 20 hours a
Some of the LR3's most clever thinking is tucked away out of sight, however. Land Rover's patented Integrated Body-frame construction gives the LR3 the benefits of unibody and frame construction. The actual metal-to-metal construction is similar to that of a unibody: Two steel monosides are welded to the roof, bulkheads, and floor creating a single, rigid perimeter structure. But beneath the floor is a complex hydroformed "frame" that's lighter, stronger, and stiffer than a conventional frame while providing tighter tolerances than the multiple beams and/or stampings it replaces. Most vulnerable systems, cables, and pipes are packaged within the frame, minimizing the risk of snagging obstacles off-road, and the design allows the halfshafts to pass through the frame, rather than under it, lowering the center of gravity, and keeping the interior floor and undercarriage unusually flat.
Body: Unique integrated body and frame construction uses aluminum, magnesium, and Boron st
This innovative new chassis design enables the vehicle to work better on- and off-road. Land Rover has tossed out the old Discovery's two live axles in favor of four fully independent corners with crosslinked air suspension. While the old Disco meandered down the freeway like two bowling balls connected by a rope, the LR3 feels as buttoned down as a BMW and yet as posh as a Lexus. Its combination of unflappable structure and computer-controlled air suspension makes any road or trail feel paved. So refined is the ride that 90 mph feels like 55, and you don't have to raise your voice to have a conversation with others in the cabin. It's like a vault with all-season tires.
It's excellent on twisting blacktop, too. Our track testing shows the LR3 to be as good or better than its V-8 4x4 peers with low-range transfer cases (Lexus GX 470, Mercedes-Benz ML500, and Volkswagen Touareg V8). Thanks to the Jaguar-sourced 4.4-liter, 300-horsepower V-8, and head-of-the-class six-speed ZF 6HP26 automatic transmission, the LR3 sprinted to 60 mph in class-average 8.7 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 16.4 at 84.0 mph. The engine has been thoroughly modified to suit the LR3's requirements. For instance, the oil sump has been enlarged for sufficient lubricant delivery at extreme angles (35-degree side slope or 45-degree ascent/ descent angles). Other mods ensure the engine will operate when the LR3 is wading in nearly 28 inches of water.
There's more feel and accuracy in the steering than anything in its class, and the brakes are first rate: Despite weighing in at over 5600 pounds, the LR3 stunned us by pulling up from 60 mph in just 124 feet. That's within three feet of a BMW 545i. Get too frisky, though, and you'll get a rap on the knuckles from the Dynamic Stability Control and Active Roll Mitigation systems. Both limited Land Rover's ultimate performance in the slalom, skidpad, and figure-eight tests where it placed dead last in each. But, as senior road-test editor and official track-tester Chris Walton points out, "It's the second flick that was discouraged so forcefully by DSC, and that's the one that usually accounts for an SUV going toes up into a ditch." Bottom line: On real-world roads, the LR3 rewards smoothness and punishes aggressiveness--and it looks after you.
Same off-road. Approach, departure, and breakover angles, as well as turning circle and towing capacity, have been improved over the outgoing Discovery, and not a single comparably equipped or priced SUV comes close to matching it. Despite the LR3's new control-arm suspension, the front wheels can travel up to 10 inches, while rears arc through nearly 13 inches for real rock-crawling articulation.
But what truly sets the LR3 apart from the crowd is its Terrain Response System. After analyzing 50 different types of off-road surfaces, Land Rover engineers determined the five best vehicle setups necessary to maximize traction and minimize driver effort on each. A five-position rotary dial at the base of the shifter accesses each setup, customizing the LR3's ride height (also manually adjustable), differential locking, throttle application, gearshift points, and the control strategies of the stability, traction, and braking systems as well as the speed permitted by the Hill Descent Control system. And if you're unsure of which (high or low range) gearset or what ride height to use, the system will make a suggestion in the message center for the selected mode.
In simple terms, Land Rover has made serious off-roading as easy as point (vehicle) and click (mode). Your grandmother could drive the LR3 everywhere we did, although be warned: Terrain Response doesn't suspend the laws of physics. Technical editor Kim Reynolds, who's not fond of trailblazing, summed it up after successfully climbing and descending a steep, rock-strewn hill: "If this thing can't do it, what can?"
How do you put a price on a vehicle with such a varied and accomplished repertoire? Land Rover reckons $44,995 is just right for a midsize near-lux V-8 4x4 category. While the LR3 SE costs about $6000 more than the 2004 Discovery SE, it's easily twice the machine. The Lexus GX 470, Mercedes-Benz ML500, and Volkswagen Touareg V8 have base prices of $46K, $47K, and $43K, respectively--the LR3's price lands it midpack, but the LR3 also offers far more for the money. Nowhere else will you find a sport/utility vehicle of this caliber, with these capabilities, wrapped in such an enticing and useful package. Truck Trend editor Mark Williams says the LR3 is "like a Range Rover for $25,000 less."
Make no mistake, the Land Rover LR3 sets a new benchmark for its segment in terms of its design, packaging, technology, and functionality. That's why it's Motor Trend's 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year.
Isn't It Iconic?
Point. Click. Drive
Grass, Gravel, Snow: Less aggressive throttle; auto trans starts in second (high range) or third (low range); center- and rear-diff preload increases. HDC automatically switched on and ETC settings change. Ride height automatically raised in low-gear range. Message center shows front-wheel alignment.
Mud and Ruts:Less-aggressive throttle; auto trans settings change. Center- and rear-differential settings change. Message center recommends high ride-height and low range, also shows front-wheel alignment.
Sand: More aggressive throttle. Auto trans shifts up later and down sooner. ABS, DSC, ETC settings all change. Ride height automatically raised in low-gear range. Message center shows front-wheel alignment.
Rock Crawl: Low range must be selected. Less-aggressive throttle; auto trans starts in first, shifts up later and down sooner. Ride height automatically raised; center- and rear-diff settings change with high preload. DSC and ETC settings change; HDC automatically switched on. Message center shows front-wheel alignment.
HDC=Hill Descent Control, DSC=Stability Control, ETC=Traction Control
|2005 Land Rover LR3|
|Drivetrain layout|| Front engine, 4WD|
|Engine type|| 90* V-8, alum blk/hds|
|Valve gear|| DOHC, 4 valves/cyl, variable|
|Displacement, ci/cc|| 268.1 / 4394|
|Compression ratio|| 10.8:1|
|Max SAE net hp|| 300 @ 5500 rpm|
|Max SAE net torque, lb-ft|| 315 @ 4000 rpm|
|Weight to power, lb/hp|| 18.9|
|Redline, rpm|| 7100|
|Transmission ||6-speed automatic|
|Axle/final/low ratio:1|| 3.73 / 2.57 / 2.93|
|Suspension, front; rear|| Control arms, adj air springs, anti-roll bar; control arms, lateral links, adj air springs, anti-roll bar|
|Brakes, f;r|| 13.3-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS|
|Wheels ||18 x 8.0 cast alum|
|Tires ||255/60R18 112V M+S Pirelli Scorpion Zero|
|Wheelbase, in|| 113.6|
|Track, f/r, in|| 63.2 / 63.5|
|Length, in|| 190.9|
|Width, in|| 75.4|
|Height, in ||74.5|
|Ground clearance, in|| 7.3-9.5|
|Appr/depart angle*|| 32.2-37.2 / 24.9-29.6 (min-max)|
|Break-over angle*|| 22.8-27.9 (min-max)|
|Water-wading depth, in|| 27.6 (in off-road mode)|
|Turning circle, ft|| 37.6|
|Curb weight (MT), lb|| 5661|
|Weight dist (MT), f/r, % || 48 / 52|
|Max towing cap, lb|| 7716|
|Seating capacity|| 5-7|
|Headroom, f/m/r, in|| 40.4 / 42.4 / 40.1|
|Legroom, f/m/r, in ||42.4 / 37.6 / 36.3|
|Shoulder room, f/m/r, in|| 59.2 / 59.4 / 42.8|
|Cargo cap, cu ft|| 9.9 / 44.5 / 90.3 (behind 3rd/2nd/1st row)|
|Acceleration, sec to mph|
|0-30 mph|| 2.6|
|0-40 mph|| 4.4|
|0-50 mph|| 6.4|
|0-60 mph|| 8.7|
|0-70 mph|| 12.0|
|0-80 mph|| 15.6|
|0-90 mph|| 20.1|
|1/4 mile, sec @ mph|| 16.4 @ 84.0|
|Braking, 60-0 mph, ft ||124|
|600-ft slalom, mph|| 49.1 (electr ltd)|
|200-ft skidpad, g|| 0.68 (electr ltd)|
|MT fig-eight, sec @ avg g|| 30.8 @ 0.50 (electr ltd)|
|Top-gear rpm @ 60 mph|| 1700|
|On sale in U.S.||Currently|
|Base price incl dest||$44,995|
|Price as tested||$46,300 (est)|
|Airbags|| Dual front, front sides, f/m/r head|
|Basic warranty|| 4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty|| 4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|Roadside assist period ||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|Fuel capacity, gal|| 22.8|
|EPA mpg, city/hwy|| 14/18|
|Range, miles, city/hwy|| 319/410|
|Recommended fuel|| Unleaded premium|