New Car Reviews

2005 Land Rover LR3

Long-Term 2005 Land Rover LR3 Update: Winter 2006 Miles to date: 0

We’re eager to see whether this lower-price-point Land Rover is a successful complement to the top-of-the-line Range Rover and the new mid-line Range Rover Sport. For our Four Seasons test, we chose the V-8 HSE model and added the rear-seat package and rear climate control for true seven-passenger comfort. We also added a cold-climate package for a harsh Michigan winter and the towing package for the vintage racers on the staff. We love the versatility of having a large cargo area or seven good-sized seating positions, but unfortunately, some electrical problems already have started to pop up. After two lengthy service visits, a recalibrated steering-wheel sensor seems to have remedied the appearance of numerous random warning lights. If the electrical problems are gone for good (we’re crossing our fingers), the LR3‘s many fine qualities should prove popular.

882 miles “The nearly 5800 pounds of weight helps provide a solid feel but proves mighty taxing to the 4.1-liter, Jaguar-derived V-8. Sport mode and revs are the only options for speed, not great with fuel at $2.75 per gallon.”

2501 miles Christmas in July? The dashboard lights are ablaze with air suspension, hill-descent control, brake warning, and stability control lights. As we have learned to do with our PCs, we power down and restart for a temporary fix.

2919 The LR3 has several features that impress the staff: a refrigerated box in the center console, three sunroofs, fantastic fitted rubber floor mats, and a well-designed touch-screen navigation system that includes an off-road function.

6153 miles The Land Rover continues to impress us with its smooth ride, solid feel, and versatile interior. But rising gasoline prices highlight the Rover’s heavy fuel consumption–the trip computer recently displayed 16 mpg during a recent, mostly freeway trip. Even though previous electrical problems seem to be sorted out, the LR3 just took two more trips to the dealer to repair a driver’s-side door handle that became inoperable after losing a trim piece.

8657 miles The LR3 is doing well until a warning appears: “Engine System Fault, Special Programs Unavailable.” With this fault, 5 mph becomes the Rover’s maximum speed. Thankfully, a restart brings the sport-ute back to normal.

12,011 Creative director Richard Eccleston loves the easy-flip rear seats that can be stashed without removing the headrests. He also enjoys the sunroof screens that let soft winter light into the cabin without the glare of an open shade.

16,700 miles While we wouldn’t argue with anyone who might suggest that a Land Rover doesn’t need winter tires, our LR3 has become nearly unstoppable in snow and ice since we installed a set of Dunlop Grandtrek SJ5s. Our only critique is that the same soft-tread compound that bestows copious amounts of winter traction also lightens the steering feel and compromises the SUV’s directional stability in dry conditions.

20,650 miles Our LR3 maintains its recent run of perfect reliability, and its ingenious cargo configurations come in handy for assistant editor Erik Johnson, who pilots the Rover from Ann Arbor to Petoskey, Michigan. The LR3 easily holds snowboards and luggage for four, and all of the travelers enjoy the comfort of heated seats and the tall-bodied SUV’s vast headroom. An auxiliary input port ensures that the music-loving, twenty-something bunch gets its iPod fix.