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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, May 12, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Picture tanks and armored vehicles, such as the Italian Leopard or the USMC M-l Al Abrams, or the Panzer IV - or perhaps the most well known, the WWII German Panzer led by the military brilliance of Irwin Rommel. This tank had 80 mm armor, which was sloped to deflect shots, a torsion-bar suspension, with 650 HP capable of moving 55 tons 31mph. The Panzer was ahead of its time and key to the battles of England and Africa. However magnificent tanks are at destruction, all tanks and armored vehicles also save thousands of lives by protecting the ground troops. It's 2006, and a new breed of tank is rolled off the floors of the British Company, Land Rover. Today, the Land Rover LR3 is known for its class-leading combination of tenacious off-road capabilities and on-road luxury. However, the first Rover was built in 1947 on a WWII Jeep chassis as a farm vehicle that could be used for everything from plowing fields to driving in town. Another design, the Land Rover Defender, is also used by military forces throughout the world. With such a heritage, it's no wonder today's Land Rovers maintain awe-inspiring tenacity both on and off road.

In today's ever increasing overcrowded streets, highways, and freeways, the threat of injuries and fatalities looms large. These urban war zones call for Panzer tank-like protection, and the LR3 delivers in more ways than one. The foundation of the LR3 is an integrated body with hydroformed, boxed-steel ladder-frame with welded steel monosides, zinc-coated steel body and monocoque contruction. Monocoque (single shell) or unibody is a construction technique that uses the external skin of an object to support some or most of the load on the structure. This is as opposed to using an internal framework (or truss) that is then covered with a non-load-bearing skin. The monocoque frame helps provide for much of the LR3's light weight, strength, crisp handling and overall feeling of safety and security no matter what the terrain or foul weather has to offer. Los Angeles is not known for its foul weather or rough terrain, so we try the LR3 in a variety of venues. First up is a trip to the deserts of Las Vegas, Nevada. The LR3's cockpit is lined with top quality leather, comfortable and supportive seating, and fingertip accessibility to an array of tactile controls. The light switches, the on/off road GPS navigational system, the upgraded Harman-Kardon surround sound stereo, individual climate controls, and the off road terrain response system are all intuitively positioned - providing the ability to make interior adjustments while maintaining vehicle control specially when traversing rugged terrain.

Loading the LR3 is made simple by the electronic air suspension (EAS), which manually raises or lowers the Land Rover by adjusting the quantity of air in the air springs. The LR3 raises approximately two inches for off-road conditions, and lowers approximately two inches for ease of lading. The EAS also maintains appropriate LR3 height by automatically controlling the correct air in the Land Rover's air shocks. The new LR3 provides enough storage room to accommodate gear for the most extreme athletes preparing to reach the summit of Everest. But then again, this Land Rover may have stiff competition storing my wife's wardrobe for a four-day vacation in Vegas. All rear seats, row two, and if equipped, row three, fold flat providing a six-foot load floor. This flat storage area is superior to many SUVs which fall short of available space and lack flat cargo loading. Once fully loaded, it's Las Vegas here we come. While the new LR3 is available in a 4.0 LV6, the top of the line HSE model packed our Land Rover with a 4.4L 300 horsepower V8, a stroked version of Jaguars 4.2. This healthy powerplant supports 315 pound-feet at of torque delivers at 4000 rpm. Much of the credit for the healthy torque curve is attributed to the increased stroke length.

With a turn of the key, the LR3 starts up quietly, with a purr of energy ready and willing to accomplish whatever is demanded. With its electronic six-speed transmission, the V8 accelerates smoothly and stores sufficient passing power when needed. The Land Rover strides confidently on paved surfaces and absorbs bumps, gravel, and potholes throughout the many construction zones along I-15. Throughout the journey to Las Vegas, the LR3 is comfortable, especially with more creature comforts than home: heated seats, adjustable arm rests, multi-positional electronic seats with memory, and the 550-watt, 14-speaker surround sound stereo. The excellent sound helps maintain my alertness for the four-hour trip. However many exceptional interior options our LR3 possesses, it never relinquishes its composure of protecting all passengers it carries. This Land Rover not only feels exceptionally safe, it is. The LR3 is designed to enjoy the drive and to offer uncomprised protection. The comprehensive Supplemental Restraint System provides eight air bags on seven seat models (six on 5 seat models). The excellent braking system is complimented by the Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), which instantly applies maximum stopping power when detecting emergency. Further enhancing braking is the four channel Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) along with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which reduces engine power and applies the ABS to help maintain control in such situations as loss of grip in turns. And to maintain stability through tight and fast cornering, the Active Roll Mitigation (ARM) balances these situations. The systems all work precisely together to help ensure safety every time the LR3 is started up.

Upon our return from Las Vegas, the San Fernando weather conditions took an unusual turn for the worse, as some of the heaviest rains flooded many areas. Many automobiles may find the conditions difficult and some impossible to maneuver; but the LR3 came alive as though eager to venture off into the unpaved world. The rack-and-pinion steering with double wishbone suspension swiftly moves the 255/55HR19 mud and snow tires through the mud and flooded streets with ease. Traversing the hilly streets near Mulholland, some of the steeper streets have become exceptionally slippery - proving to be a perfect test for the Hill Descent Control (HDC). With just a touch of a button, the LR3 slowed smoothly and managed the worst of the streets perfectly. All-in-all, the LR3 is an exceptionally competent vehicle both on and off road, and a pleasure to drive throughout our journey. The one downfall for long trips is the less than stellar gas mileage. During our trip, the average miles per gallon is 14 on the highway - a bit under the 18 mpg in the EPA ratings. Nonetheless, if Irwin Rammal was alive today, he may very well choose the LR3 to command his Panzer tank divisions - especially with three sunroofs and high-seated driving position providing exceptional view of the adversaries. - Kurt Fuhrman

SIDEBAR COMMENTS I provide the following disclaimer: Like our 30th President Herbert Hoover said in 1928, "There should be a chicken in every pot and a (Land Rover) in every driveway." If he drove the new Discovery (LR3 in modernspeak), he'll change his speech to include the new LR3. With the vehicle's target audience being heavily tilted toward women, the changes make sense. Yet, they may have made it too civilized for me. In highway traffic, the LR3 is stable and quite. I almost appreciated the panoramic view of the brown Southern California countryside afforded by the commanding position, tall windows, Alpine roof and lack of noticeable blind spots. The computer-aided driving is a wonderful option, since most people will never take there vehicle up a curb (on purpose), let alone bury it to its sills in muck. The premium ICE (In Car Entertainment) package includes a Harman-Kardon Logic 7 550-watt sound system with 13 speakers, which provides separate audio selections from the main speakers and the rear seat headphone modules (great for children). Room for improvement: The front seat headrest is not adjustable and too far forwards for me, providing a less-than-optimally comfortable position. The touchscreen of the center-mounted navigation system is finicky and some buttons seem to cooperate only half the time. It turns out you must touch and hold your finger on the screen for it to work - not what you want to do while driving. Both the second- and third-row seats can be folded forward or flat for increased cargo capacity, but the seat adjustments can stand to be easier. The compressor for air suspension sounds as loud as the one used back in 1991, but it won't operate after shutting the vehicle off anymore. The front seat pedestals plastic trim catches on large shoes when exiting and seem like they will snap off eventually. - Gordon Bleam

Willow Springs Raceway is known for its fast, big track and its autocross-inspired Streets of Willow track. Less well-known is its off-road courses going up to the hills of Rosamond. The Motor Press Guild set up three off-road courses, with varying levels of difficulty. All SUVs can maneuver the Level One course, and many can handle the Level Two course. Very few are recommended for Level Three. The LR3 is a Level Three vehicle - a quality it shares with some very serious off-roaders. What sets the LR3 apart, howeve, is the level of luxury it offers while taming the terrain. The LR3 is no poser. It delivers the goods both on and off road. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT This Land Rover is able to leap tall hills with a single bound in style and comfort - and without breaking the bank. For more information on Land Rover products, go to

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Land Rover LR3 Price: Base (V6)$39,000, Mid (VS SE V) $48,700 Top (as tested HSE $53,700) Engine type: 4.4 L V8 Aluminum Block Horsepower: 300 @ 5500 rpm Torque: 315 lb.-ft @ 4000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / Permanent four-wheel drive Transmission type: ZF HP26 six-speed electronically controlled automatic with locking torque converter, and Normal, Sport and Manual shift modes Suspension: Front: Independent, double-wishbone with long-travel air springs, 10.0 inches (255 mm) of vertical wheel travel Rear: Independent, double-wishbone with long-travel air springs, 13.0 inches (330 mm) of vertical wheel travel Wheels and tires: Front: 19" alloy wheels, 255/55HR19 mud and snow radials Rear: 19" alloy wheels, 255/55HR19 mud and snow radials Brakes: Power Assisted four-wheel ventilated disc Front: Four-channel, four-wheel, all-terrain Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) 13.3" disc Rear: Four-channel, four-wheel, all-terrain Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) 13.8" disc Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) Towing Capacity: 7,700 Lbs trailer with brakes Maximum Tongue weight 550Lbs. Gross Payload: V8: 1,325-1,695 lb. (601-769 kg) Overall length: 190.9 in Overall width: 75.4 in Overall height: 74.1 in Curb weight (lbs): V8: 1,325 -1,695 lb. (601-769 kg) EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 14/18

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