All-new for 2005, the Land Rover LR3 replaces the discontinued Discovery. The new model is called the Discovery 3 in Europe, but the company decided that the name didn’t have enough of a following over here to continue with it.

The LR3 is the first new Land Rover since the company was acquired by the Ford Motor Company, but this is no Explorer masquerading in Harris Tweed.

Available in SE and HSE trim, the LR3’s power comes from a Jaguar 4.4-litre V8, suitably toughened up for any off-road tasks. That includes an increased displacement, up from 4.2-litres; more low-end torque; enhanced dust- and water-proofing; and revised breathing, to allow the vehicle to wade into water up to 0.6 metres. The transmission is a six-speed automatic, matched to a two-speed electronically-shifted transfer case with centre differential lock that normally splits the power 50/50 between the front and rear axles. The air suspension is fully independent and height-adjustable, and a locking rear differential is available. Land Rover’s “Integrated Body-Frame” architecture provides a stiffer, longer chassis than that of the Discovery, for better handling, a smoother ride, and less road and wind noise. With the new model’s extra wheelbase, there’s enough room for an optional third row of seats to be added, and the rear doors are longer for easier access.

The LR3 is very capable off-road, and just in case you’re new to bushwhacking, the vehicle makes it easy. There’s a rotary knob in the centre console that can be set to general driving; grass/gravel/snow for slippery surfaces; and for off-road, a choice of mud/ruts, sand, or rock crawl. The system automatically selects the most appropriate combination of ride height, engine torque response, hill descent control, electronic traction control and transmission settings, so you can look like a pro no matter where you’re going.

Of course, only the terrain will be rough; the LR3’s interior is all luxury, with dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front bucket seats, front and rear park distance control, leather-wrapped tilt wheel, heated mirrors, 65/35 folding rear seat, 300-watt Harman/Kardon six-disc CD with nine speakers and wheel-mounted controls, and programmable key fob that includes remote control of the air suspension.

The HSC also includes a 550-watt stereo with 14 speakers, and a DVD-based GPS navigation system with off-road capability, dead reckoning and map matching standard, with voice recognition and 7-inch LCD touch screen. The screen also has a 4×4 interface showing the settings of the gear, range and front wheel position.

The LR3 is built in Solihull, England.

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