One specific result in all this four-wheel-drive capability is that Land Rover is able to bias its factory tire choice for street performance (historically a Discovery weakness) to allow it to handle better on pavement. Not a bad idea since most of its life will likely be spent carving through neighborhoods and running down highways.

Another highlight of the LR3 is under the hood. Where the Range Rover benefited from the BMW partnership, inheriting the 4.4-liter, 282-horsepower V-8 (for just one more year) for underhood motivation, the LR3 benefits from Ford ownership, receiving the 300-horsepower (315 pound-feet at 4000 rpm), all-aluminum Jaguar-derived 4.4-liter V-8. The sport sedan's V-8 has been modified and strengthened to better match the demands of the heavier LR3. Mated to this powerful motor is an equally advanced six-speed automatic transmission (also modified for LR3 use) that offers Normal, Sport, and Command Shift modes, the last allowing the driver to take full manual control in high- and low-range.

Inside the all-new LR3 are many of the same refinements that made the current Range Rover a success. Materials, textures, and layout are vastly improved, with the most apparent upgrades in cabin seals and wind noise at speed. The center console has a relatively clean appearance and will take some time to get familiar with, the navigation system the clear highlight. There are plenty of small, medium, and large storage pods, boxes, and trays spread throughout the seating areas. In fact, as an option, the center storage box can heat or cool drinks and snacks. The seating configuration is also well-thought-out. Second row fold-flat seats are 35/30/35-split and offer an almost endless array of slide-forward, fold, flip-down, flop-forward options. And because of the extra storage capacity offered by the independent rear suspension, the third-row seat option folds and disappears into the rear deck (previous Discoverys had side-folding third-row seats that took up valuable cargo area).

Base priced at $45,000 and $50,000 fully loaded, the LR3 is aimed squarely at the BMW X5, Cadillac SRX (V-8), and Porsche Cayenne (V-6) luxury-SUV segment. Still, with fewer than 20,000 units sold in the U.S. last year (the Discovery's 10th year in the U.S.), the all-new LR3 should do well right out of the gate. Will the LR3 change all the SUV rules? Probably not, but it certainly will shake things up.