Land Rover is a name which has been synonymous for decades not only with luxury but also with incredibly well-designed off-road vehicles which are some of the most capable SUV's in the world. While it might at first seem odd that a country like Britain, which is not known for its sprawling wilderness, would be able to produce such incredibly well-engineered trucks, it is important to remember that for a significant portion of the 20th century England reigned over an empire which consisted of a very diverse range of countries and topographies. While there may not have been much of a home market for rugged machinery, savvy executives at Rover in the late 1940s realized that by improving upon the design of the U.S. Army Jeep, which had been ubiquitous in England during the war, they would be able to produce a vehicle which could serve the government in many of its far-flung outposts.
Early Land Rovers were focused far more on getting over the next ridge than providing driver and passengers with anything resembling comfort. While this suited the military and other branches of the British government just fine, eventually the consumer market grew tired of vehicles which had fallen behind other car companies in terms of fit and finish. Facing the prospect of dwindling sales at home and a strong challenge from Japanese automakers like Mitsubishi, Isuzu and Toyota, Land Rover decided that it would be in its best interests to begin to add a layer of additional refinement and luxury to the company's existing vehicles. With time, the standard lineup of SUVs was complemented by an expanded range of products which still managed to offer the same trail prowess exhibited by their ancestors, wrapped in a much more palatable package.
Land Rover stratified its new vehicles over a fairly wide range of vehicle types. In the rare position of being a company that offered three separate full-size sport-utility vehicles, Land Rover still managed to differentiate each of the company's products from the other by giving them not only a unique appearance but also a specific set of attributes which appealed to a specific demographic. The Discovery, (now known as the LR3) was meant to be an entry-level vehicle of sorts, with great off-road capabilities but also bearing a more modern design than the much more brutal pure trail vehicles marketed by the company. Mid-level buyers were treated to the Range Rover Sport, a short-wheelbase edition of the feature heavy Range Rover that sat at the top of the lineup. This article examines each of these Land Rovers in order to help buyers choose which of the best used full-size SUVs available from the British company would be most capable of meeting their needs.
2005 - 2007 Land Rover LR3
The 2005 - 2007 Land Rover LR3 is sleeker and cleaner than the Discovery design it replaces, updating the previous vehicle's somewhat ungainly proportions and shortening its overhangs in order to help the newer vehicle achieve an economy of size that belies its true dimensions. The LR3 is a very modern interpretation of the classic upright Land Rover styling, and it has managed to catch the eye of a whole new group of potential SUV buyers.
For the first year of production, only one engine was available in the Land Rover LR3, a 300 horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 sourced from Jaguar which does a fine job in motivating the heavy truck around town. The engine is shifted via a 6-speed automatic. For 2006 and 2007 the base LR3 makes do with a 4.0-liter V6 that cranks out 216 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, slowing down performance by a significant degree. Of course, the LR3 is not all about straight-line speed, with the vehicle making excellent use of both dynamic stability control and hill descent control to help it navigate terrain far off the beaten path. These technologies can be custom tailored to the type of surface being driven on via a configurable interface. For those who prefer to keep their Land Rover firmly planted between the lines on the highway, the vehicle also features a system to prevent rollovers as well as complex braking management software.
The inside of the 2005 - 2007 Land Rover LR3 is as well designed as the rest of the SUV, with all three rows of seating benefiting from excellent passenger room and good comfort. The vehicle's extensive glass, both in terms of side windows and two separate sunroofs really help to open up interior space, as do rear seats which can be individually folded down in order to accommodate odd-shaped cargo. The LR3 also carries a full load of luxury equipment such as leather seats, power everything and a Harmon/Kardon sound system.
When it comes to a used full-size SUV, there are few premium options which offer the same level of class and functionality as the 2005 - 2007 Land Rover LR3
2006 - 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
When choosing to re-design the Discovery, Land Rover also decided to create an SUV that would use the same platform as the new LR3 but employ styling and running gear that screamed out sporty performance. The result was the 2006 - 2007 Range Rover Sport, a vehicle which riffed on the appearance of the larger Range Rover but which sacrificed some of the company's traditional rugged spirit for better pavement driving characteristics.
Buyers are faced with two choices when it comes to selecting which power plant will be fitted underneath the hood of their Range Rover Sport. A 4.4-liter, 300 horsepower V-8 leads the charge, followed up by a stunning 390 horsepower supercharged edition of the same mill. Both motors are twins of the units found in the XJ and XJR Jaguar sedans and are designed to breathe deep and run hard right up to the redline. All-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission are standard equipment with either edition of the Range Rover Sport, and the vehicle displays a startling degree of driving prowess not usually associated with such a large, brick-shaped vehicle. While the SUV trails behind the Range Rover and the LR3 in terms of 4x4 capabilities, it is still a step above many of the other full-size trucks on the market when it comes time to getting dirty in the mud.
With seating for 5, the 2006 - 2007 Range Rover Sport doesn't pack the same high-capacity wallop as the LR3, despite sharing the same basic underpinnings. The interiors of the two vehicles are very similar however, and the Range Rover Sport is quite comfortable, sacrificing almost nothing save for less cargo height and the third row of its sister vehicle. The SUV can be fully decked out with dual climate controls, DVD navigation, a sunroof and a vehicle information system which keeps track of the vehicle's all-wheel drive settings. Oak wood trim and 20-inch wheels are available as options
The 2006 - 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is an interesting used full-size SUV alternative to the muscle trucks streaming out of Detroit, one which provides an extra degree of European elegance to back up its considerable oomph.
2002 - 2007 Land Rover Range Rover
Long the king of the Land Rover line, the Range Rover has reigned from the top with an elegance and surefootedness that has impressed both real-life royalty and those who regularly do their best to get their vehicles stuck in the most compromising of driving conditions. Rare in its ability to coddle drivers in the lap of luxury while at the same time overcoming obstacles in the wilderness that would make most macho trucks cringe, the 2002 - 2007 Land Rover Range Rover occupies a lofty spot in the SUV pantheon.
Thanks to an injection of technological know-how from brief corporate parent BMW, the first few years of Range Rover production saw the vehicle outfitted with a 4.4-liter V-8 developed by the German luxury company. In SUV trim, the motor makes the same 282 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque as it does in the 5 Series sedan of the same era, giving the truck good but not amazing acceleration numbers. A switch to newer engines in 2006 saw the base V-8 bumped to 300 ponies and a supercharged 400 horsepower unit marking the upper realm of the Range Rover options list. A 5-speed (6-speed on later models) automatic transmission is of course standard equipment, as is full-time all-wheel drive. The Range Rover also makes use of a number of different electronic driver's aides in order to help the vehicle deal with challenging road conditions - or no road at all.
The interior of the 2002 - 2007 Range Rover is the usual study in Land Rover decadence. Heated leather seats, which can also be cooled in the 2007 edition of the truck, support both passengers and driver with absolute authority and comfort, and the entire compartment is specially sealed in order to protect occupants from road noise or the sound of branches slapping against the vehicle's paint. Up to 5 occupants can share the vehicle's accommodations with 35 cubic feet of cargo, a number which blossoms up to 65 cubic feet with the rear seats folded and stowed.
The 2002 - 2007 Land Rover Range Rover is one of the undisputed leaders of the used full-size SUV class, and it is worthy of serious consideration from any buyer unwilling to compromise on quality, capability or comfort.