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Car Review: 2005 Land Rover LR3

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Autoline Detroit

The Land Rover LR3 is the first all-new Land Rover since Ford bought the company four years ago. Strangely, this is the only market in the world where this vehicle will be called the LR3. Everywhere else they’re going to call it the Discovery 3, because it’s actually the new Discovery.

The company says it’s using the LR3 name in the U.S. because it wants to accentuate the Land Rover name, rather than the model name. Look for this LR designation to start showing up on other models in the future.

One thing’s for sure, you’ll instantly recognize this as a Land Rover and not anything else. It uses the same sort of clean, simple lines and bold geometric shapes that are found on the Range Rover. Inside, the cabin reflects the same sort of design philosophy, with simple, straight, horizontal and vertical lines.

The LR3 is a 7-passenger vehicle with three rows of seats, and the two rows of rear seats fold flat in floor. It has stadium seating and panoramic glass windows to give it great visibility..

It’s powered by a 4.4-liter V8 that puts out 300 horsepower that was actually developed by Jaguar. In fact we’ll see more Jaguar powertrains in other Land Rovers in the future. And the engine is mated to a six-speed automatic.

The LR3 is the first vehicle to get what Land Rover calls Terrain Response. There’s a rotary switch that allows the driver to simply choose one of five terrain settings. There’s a setting for general driving, one for slippery conditions, and three special off-road modes for mud, sand, and rock crawling. Terrain Response then automatically selects the most appropriate settings for the vehicle, including ride height, engine torque response, hill descent control, electronic traction and transmission settings.

Land Rover is a great brand that hasn’t quite hit its stride in the American market. But with the new LR3, the company has high hopes that this signals the start of a big sales surge.