The LR3 is the first Land Rover developed since Ford took over the company in 2000. Features such as a modified version of Jaguar?s 4.2-litre V8 engine reflect that influence. The 4.4-litre Land Rover V8 produces 300 horsepower and 315 ft.-lbs. of torque, and is mated to a six-speed automatic ZF transmission with a manual shift option.
While it is certainly a car of the future, the LR3 is steeped in Land Rover?s tradition of exceptional off-road performance. A durable weather proof chassis is designed to navigate the most challenging terrain, including water, sand, wet mud, and large rocks.
The terrain response system enables the driver to modify the car?s suspension, throttle map, traction control and vehicle height to fit the terrain. The driver uses a rotary dial on the center console to choose one of five settings: general driving, slippery conditions, mud and ruts, sand, or rock crawl. The driver can also adjust the speed of the hill descent control function, to maintain directional control on steep hills without using the brakes.
Wheel travel of just over 10-inches in front and 13-inches in the rear allows the wheels to maintain contact with the ground on extremely uneven terrain. Electronic traction control, antilock braking and dynamic stability control automatically reduce wheel spin on slippery surfaces, so that the car can move forward when one or more wheels are off the ground. An electronic park brake, applied by using a switch on the center console, holds vehicle in place, and automatically disengages as soon as the driver steps on the gas.
A test drive at Land Rover?s off-road driving school outside of Montreal, Canada, enabled journalists to experience the new technology first hand. Land Rover designed the off-road course to be heavy on deep mud, ruts, tree roots, and large rocks.
The terrain response system made the trails easy to navigate. Not only did the LR3 maintain traction while wading through foot-deep mud bogs; it did so with a minimum amount of rocking, sliding and spinning tires. An indicator on the instrument panel shows the driver wheel position and angle: a handy feature when maneuvering the truck over large rocks.
The hill descent control maintained a speed 4 miles-per-hour, even when descending slippery grades. The standard all-terrain tires provided good traction when traveling through water, and cruised up a large rock crawl that bore eerie resemblance to an Aztec ruin, sans the sacrificial altar.
The air suspension automatically adjusts vehicle height according to the terrain, and does a remarkably good job of absorbing impact. Driver and passengers can enjoy the scenery without feeling nature?s wrath in their tailbones and sciatic nerves. The standard leather seats are firm enough to provide good back support, with standard lumbar adjustment features for both the driver and front passenger.
The LR3 is available in both five- and seven-seat versions. On the seven-seat model, the second- and third-row seats fold flat into the floor without removing the headrests, making it easy to toss a mountain bike in the back. The asymmetrical tailgate makes puts the release lever easily within reach for people of all sizes, while allowing the door to swing up and out of the way. The LR3 comes with standard roof rails and optional cross bars. Towing capacity is 7,121 pounds.
A two piece glovebox is large enough to hold a purse or small pack. Bins above the glovebox are right-sized for a cell phone or PDA. Cupholders in the center console are large enough to hold water bottles. Map pockets in the doors are molded to hold bottles as well.
The driver?s seat is easy to adjust, and is high enough to provide good visibility for off-roading. Theater-style seating gives second-row passengers a good view of the road. A standard sunroof in front and ?alpine glass? in the rear allows daylight into all areas of the interior. Buyers can opt to upgrade from the standard audio to a Harmon/Kardon surround-sound system. The premium model comes standard with a navigation system that includes on and off-road mapping.
Standard safety features include antilock braking, traction control, front, side and side curtain airbags. Adaptive front headlamps on the premium model change headlamp directions to light corners in the road.
Pricing for the LR3 starts at $44,995 for the SE model, and $49,995 for the HSE premium model. The new Land Rover is currently rolling into dealerships.