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2009 Land Rover LR3 REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Excessive weight stunts performance, complicated audio and climate controls, spotty build quality and reliability.

The 2009 LR3 is powered by a 4.4-liter V8 that makes 300 hp and 315 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system. Using a rotary knob, the driver can select one of five settings (general, snow/grass/gravel, mud and ruts, sand and rock crawl) that optimize everything for the conditions at hand, from throttle response to the differentials. The LR3 also features a fully independent suspension that utilizes electronically controlled air springs to automatically adapt to virtually any terrain or off-road challenge. This heavy SUV is expectedly thirsty. Fuel mileage ratings stand at 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the LR3 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

Interior: Land Rover has a style all its own, and it's on display inside the LR3. Although filled with luxury features, there's a general rugged ambience that's been passed down through decades of adventure-seeking Land Rovers. The center stack is awash with black buttons and knobs, resembling some sort of navigational control panel from a yacht. That's not necessarily a good thing, though, as simple operations can be a little confusing. Also, our testing experiences have shown that build quality isn't universally solid.

In terms of everyday usability, the LR3 shines, with fold-flat second- and (available) third-row seats and a vast cargo space with a maximum of 90 available cubic feet. A commanding driving position and elevated "stadium" seating give the driver and passengers a clear view of the road (or trail) ahead.

Body: The 2009 Land Rover LR3 is a midsize SUV. It is offered in a single trim level. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt (but not telescoping) steering wheel, a power tilt-and-slide front sunroof, a fixed rear sunroof and a nine-speaker stereo with an in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack.

The available HSE package adds front and rear parking sensors, a Cold Climate group (front and rear heated seats, heated windshield-washer jets and a heated windshield), Bluetooth, a power-tilt steering wheel, satellite radio and a navigation system that has mapping capability for both on- and off-road.

Springing for the HSE LUX package adds Land Rover's adaptive bi-xenon headlights, higher-grade leather upholstery, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, a center-console cooler box and driver memory settings.

Some of the package features, such as the Cold Climate group and Bluetooth, are available à la carte. Also optional are a rear-seat entertainment system, a third-row seat, and a Heavy Duty package (locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire).

Safety: Safety features on the 2009 Land Rover LR3 include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control (with rollover mitigation technology), hill descent control, front-seat side airbags and three-row head curtain airbags. Rear parking sensors are included on all LR3s, while front bumper sensors come with the HSE package.

Pro: Well-suited for both on-road cruising and off-road treks, comfortable and well-appointed interior.

Driving: Even with 300 hp on tap, the hefty (nearly 6,000-pound) 2009 Land Rover LR3 is no rocket, especially when carrying a full load of passengers. Thanks to quick-thinking performance from the six-speed transmission, though, there is always adequate power available underfoot.

Communicative feedback from the steering lends the LR3 a crisp feel behind the wheel, and a tight turning circle makes it fairly maneuverable in parking lots and campgrounds. However, the vehicle's high center of gravity gives it a somewhat tippy feel when negotiating corners. The advanced suspension makes for a comfortable ride on the highway, though. With the sophisticated four-wheel-drive system, there's also plenty of traction if you ever feel the need to go exploring off-road.

Edmunds Say: Though not as ideal for daily on-road use as some other luxury SUVs, the 2009 Land Rover LR3 offers go-anywhere versatility, loads of luxury and a pedigreed nameplate.

What’s New: For 2009, Land Rover reduces the LR3 to a single trim level as features are juggled slightly. The previous HSE trim becomes an option package. Other changes include the fitment of 19-inch wheels as well as color-keyed fender flares, bumpers and lower tailgate trim as standard.

Introduction: The midsize 2009 Land Rover LR3 bridges the gap between the brand's big-bucks Range Rover Sport and the entry-level LR2. Like those other models, the LR3 promises a balance between everyday usability and off-road capability. Being a modern luxury-brand SUV, the LR3 comes with plenty of standard features, three rows of seating arranged "stadium style," an abundance of headroom and a very useful cargo compartment. When the road turns to dirt, the LR3 is at the ready with a 300-horsepower V8, a sophisticated suspension and four-wheel drive.

But due primarily to some cheaper plastic trim, the cabin's overall quality doesn't match that of rivals such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GL450. Furthermore, we had a long-term LR3 a few years back that sadly held up the brand's reputation for spotty quality and reliability -- it was one of the most trouble-prone vehicles we've had in recent memory. Consumers who buy the LR3 shouldn't be surprised if they end up on a first-name basis with their Land Rover service writer.

You might also find that the Land Rover LR3 doesn't excel as a luxury family hauler as well as more on-road-oriented vehicles like the Acura MDX or Audi Q7. But if all-terrain adventures are a frequent family activity, and the thought of owning a pedigreed SUV appeals to you, it's hard to think of a better-suited vehicle for the task than the 2009 Land Rover LR3.

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