2005 Land Rover LR3

Aside from the current Land Rover LR4, there is nothing quite like the LR3 on the road. Uniquely styled and equipped, the LR3 combines utility, luxury, heritage, and capability into a package which is becoming quite affordable as time goes on. Arguably, the LR3 is in its prime as far as used vehicles go. It is almost identically styled to the current model, low-mileage examples are plentiful, many have had their major kinks worked out while under warranty, and aftermarket support is very robust.

All model years of the LR3 are fundamentally the same (aside from a short-lived V6 option), with newer model years featuring cosmetic updates such as body-color plastic cladding rather than the textured gray plastic found on earlier years.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer or search eBay for used LR3s.

The Land Rover LR3 was the third generation of the Discovery line. Introduced to the U.S. in 2004 as a 2005 model year vehicle, the LR3 represented a relatively major departure from the Discovery II that it had replaced. While several of the hallmark features of the Discovery II were still present, such as the stepped roofline, the vehicle was all-new. One of the most significant updates was Integrated Body Frame construction. The LR3’s monocoque body chassis is paired with a traditional ladder frame. The benefits include the ruggedness of a ladder frame along with the refinement, safety, and rigidness of the monocoque chassis. The trade-off is that the LR3 is abnormally heavy, which impacts performance and fuel economy.

Powering most LR3’s in the U.S. is the 4.4-liter Jaguar V8, which produces 300-horsepower. This engine is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with CommandShift®. CommandShift® allows the for manual shifting through gears, along with a Sport mode that allows for a more spirited driving experience (at the expense of fuel economy, of course). You may also find a few earlier models equipped with a 4.0-liter Ford V6. This short-lived engine option provided a lower introductory price, but due to the weight of the LR3, provided sluggish performance combined with an increase in fuel economy of only 1 MPG. As such, V6-equipped LR3s are comparatively rare.

Real-world fuel economy for the 4.4-liter V8 in the LR3 averages about 15 MPG. Fuel economy ranges between 13 MPG during winter driving and up to 18 MPG on long highway drives. The Jaguar V8 requires premium fuel for optimal performance.

Terrain Response®

Land Rover’s Terrain Response® system is featured prominently on the LR3. Terrain Response® was developed to allow onboard computer systems to tailor the driving characteristics of the vehicle to make off-road driving more intuitive. The system allows five drive-controlled settings, including General Driving; Sand; Grass, Gravel & Snow; Mud & Ruts; and Rock Crawl. One tip new LR3 owners should be aware of is that the Grass, Gravel & Snow setting is more for slick surfaces rather than deep snow. When encountering deep snow, the Sand or Mud & Ruts setting may deliver better results. Additional driver-controlled settings allow for the activation of low range, hill descent, and for switching between Access, Normal, and Off-Road height modes.

If you plan to use your LR3 off-road, you will want to ensure the vehicles is equipped with the optional heavy duty package. The heavy duty package includes a locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire. Most buyers never intended to use the truck off-road, so they saw the option as an unnecessary add-on and is therefore uncommon.

Interior

The interior of the LR3 is minimalistic in some sense, but rather button-heavy. Perhaps a better term for it would be monolithic, especially regarding the center stack. This feeling is broken up when the interior is configured with contrasting colors. Overall, the LR3 is well-equipped, regardless of trim. The SE could be optioned to nearly rival the HSE. Setting apart the HSE from the SE is the inclusion of standard seven-seat capacity and additional standard equipment. The two extra seats come by way of stowable jump seats in the rear of the vehicle. The second row seats can also be stowed flat, complete with accommodations for the cargo shade, making for a rather large and flat cargo area. The LR3’s air suspension also features load leveling, which pops the vehicle up to the correct height if you decide to cart around a load of bricks in the back.

The LR3 has more than its share of eccentricities. Just to name a few: The AUX input is accessible from the rear seat only, which means you will have to run a cable to the front to use it. The voice controls are a bit frustrating, especially when attempting to program phone numbers into its memory, but it comes in handy when coupled with a Bluetooth enabled phone for hands free operation. The voice controls can also interface with the navigation system, if equipped. The Cool Box refrigerator in the center console is a potentially useful feature, if equipped. The LR3 also features three skylights (only the front one opens), but are shaded by a screen, which are generally up to the job of filtering out the sun but don’t block it completely.

Retail Prices (July 2011)

Below is a rough guideline as to the current value range of the LR3. Exact pricing will depend on mileage, overall condition, vehicle history, geographic area, time of year, and availability. Also, low-mileage or certified pre-owned (CPO) examples will usually be near the top-end of the scale, if not a little higher. Of course, examples will be found that exceed the ranges below on either end of the scale.

2005: $21,000.00 to $23,000.00

2006: $20,000.00 to $25,000.00

2007: $26,000.00 to $33,000.00

2008: $34,000.00 to $38,000.00

2009: $41,000.00 to $50,000.00

Reliability

Part of the reason for the name change from the Discovery II to LR3 was the poor reputation for reliability the Discovery name had acquired here in the U.S. While the LR3 may outperform the Disco, the overall reliability of the LR3 is not as robust as some of its competitors. However, these vehicles are loaded with features from bumper-to-bumper (quite literally). These vehicles feature parking sensors, adjustable air suspension, the advanced off-road and traction system, navigation system, voice controls, dual-zone climate control, many safety features, automated systems, up to seven seats, available advanced lighting system, etc. There is a lot that can potentially go wrong with the LR3. Of course, these features make driving the LR3 something a little more special than driving the average SUV. There are few vehicles out there that can combine the comfort, utility, and capability of this Land Rover.

Below is a list of common issues with the LR3:

Worn bushings and suspension components. A common problem on the LR3 when they hit approximately 75,000 miles is the need to replace worn bushings and other wear-and-tear suspension components.

Air suspension problems. The air suspension and controllers can cause fault issues, some of which make the vehicle inoperable. A common air suspension problem is a leak in the system, which in turn forces the air compressor to run more than necessary and promotes early failure. If the air suspension refuses to bring the vehicle up to standard height, it may restrict the speed at which the vehicle can travel. Worn air bags or electrical faults can also raise havoc with the complicated suspension system.

Broken tailgate hatch release. The release mechanism for the tailgate hatch can break, making the rear hatch inoperable. Repairing the release is a somewhat involved task, usually requiring some destructive disassembly of the interior hatch panels. The broken part itself is quite inexpensive, but the labor required to reach the part and the replacement panels (if needed) is costly unless you decide to fix it yourself.

Rusted fasteners and corroded A/C pipes. Models equipped with rear air conditioning can suffer from corrosion of the A/C pipes and fasteners that run virtually unprotected along the underside of the vehicle, just inside of the kick panel. Replacing these pipes is a costly repair due to the disassembly needed for their removal.

Electronic parking brake (EPB) squeals. The electronic parking brake can fail to release, causing a loud squealing sound to emanate from under the vehicle when attempting to drive. The EPB can be manually released via  lanyard hidden under a removable section of the center panel.

Steering wheel texture. The black texture on the steering wheel can rub off on your hands, especially when it is hot.

Electrical and low battery faults. The electrical needs of the LR3 are quite extensive, so when the battery starts going flat it can raise faults that appear to stem from other problems. The recommended replacement battery is the Interstate MTP-H8. Legitimate electrical faults are also potential sources of aggravation. Electrical faults can be caused by software problems, sensor failures, water ingress, etc. Electrical faults can sometimes appear for no clear reason and disappear once the vehicle is restarted. Other electrical faults render the vehicle inoperable require the diagnostic capabilities of the dealership.

Things to Look For

There are a number of issues you can look for before buying a used LR3. Most of these are quite minor, but others can be costly to fix, even if they seem trivial at first.

Cracks in the sunroof guide arms. The plastic cladding on the metal sunroof guide arms can develop cracks. Thus far, there has been no sign that these cracks are anything other than cosmetic, but those who have found the cracks while their LR3 was under warranty were able to get the sunroof replaced under warranty.

Tailgate strut coming loose. The passenger-side tailgate strut retention bolt can work its way loose and potentially fall out. If you catch it before it falls out, you can simply tighten the bolt and check it periodically. If the strut bolt has already fallen completely out, it’s a relatively major repair because installing a new anchor requires cutting into the pillar. Check the driver-side strut, as well, but it is less likely to come loose.

Broken seat release tethers under the second row. These tethers allow passengers in the third row the ability to tip the second row seats forward to ease exiting the vehicle. If these tethers break, you can only tilt the seat forward by using the lever found on the outboard underside of the seat. Replacement of the tether is a simple repair.

Broken buttons on the dash panel. The radio and phone control buttons hinge at the top with a delicate plunger located at the bottom of the button. Repeated use can cause the plunger break, at which point the button is inoperable. Land Rover does not sell replacement buttons, so an entire new panel must be fitted, which is a several hundred dollar repair.

Broken plastic fasteners. The plastic covers for the recovery hooks are held by twist-type plastic fasteners. These fasteners can break, especially in cold weather. Replacement cost for all the fasteners is only a few dollars and it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra on hand.

Missing hitch receiver. Vehicles equipped for towing should come with Land Rover’s proprietary hitch receiver. It is not uncommon for LR3 owners to accidentally forget to replace the receiver before trading in the LR3. Cost to replace the receiver ranges from $300.00 (if you get lucky on eBay) to $500.00 (from a dealer or retailer). Traditional tube-style aftermarket receivers that replace the OEM hitch setup are also available.

Missing tool kit. The LR3 comes with a basic tool kit, including a tool you can use to manually release the parking brake. The tool kit also includes rods to raise and lower the wheel jack and a lug nut wrench that borders on useless thanks to its flimsy design. It is highly recommended to carry a proper lug nut wrench in your LR3.

Unusual tire wear. Unusual tire wear can indicate a problem with the suspension, or it can simply mean the vehicle needs an alignment. Regardless, pay attention to the wear pattern of the tire before making a purchase decision.

Headliner water damage. Water stains on the headliner, especially along the front edge, can indicate plugged sunroof drains. In extreme cases, water overflow can run down the A-pillar and empty into the footwell, or worse, into the dash where it can cause severe problems with the electronics. Cleaning the sunroof drains requires dropping the front part of the headliner.

Uneven suspension height. An uneven suspension height can show either a suspension problem or can mean the system just needs recalibration. Recalibrating the suspension requires specialized equipment, which means you will need to take your LR3 to a dealer to have the problem fixed.

Complete service records. You should request all available service records to make sure the vehicle is current on all maintenance and recalls. Make sure both skid plates are present. Some owners leave the skid plate off to facilitate service, since changing the oil on the LR3 requires the removal of both skid plates (one of which is quite heavy). You will also want to acquire a vehicle history report, either through the dealer or independently.

Condition of spare tire. If equipped with a full-size spare tire, you may want to inspect its condition. While you are under there, you can also inspect the condition of the heat shield which separates the spare tire from the exhaust. It is not uncommon for the shield to be cracked or chipped, but the shield should be present.

Both keys present. The last time we checked, a replacement key for the LR3 was approximately $400.00. You will want to make sure both keys are present and functioning correctly.

Roof dents. If the vehicle is equipped with a roof rack, check for dents on the roof.

Condition of heated windshield glass. If the vehicle is equipped with a heated windshield, you will want to make sure it is free of chips, cracks, and scratches. A replacement windshield can easily run $1,000.00.

Spare tire winch. The spare tire winch can get jammed if the winch is raised without tension on the cable.

Everything else. Of course, you will want to check all the standards. Is there a lot of life left on the brake pads? Do all the controls and functions work properly (don’t forget the seat memory controls and mirrors that dip in reverse)? How many miles are left on the tires? Are there any strange noises while driving? Do all the lights work? Are there any leaks? Etc.

2005 Land Rover LR3

2005 Land Rover LR3

2005 Land Rover LR3 Interior



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July 16, 2011

RoverGuide

Articles, Buying & Ownership, Land Rover Models, LR3 (Discovery 3)

Buying Guide, LR3 (Discovery 3), Used Land Rover

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