As I noted in my review of the Land Rover LR2 a while back, Land Rover has finally hit on the key to success for its smaller, less expensive (compared to the top-of-the-line Range Rover) vehicles: Make them as much like the flagship as possible.
They've certainly applied it brilliantly to the mid-size LR3 (known once upon a time as the Discovery). What was once a fairly stark, utilitarian vehicle now coddles you in the same kind of luxury as the Range Rover, especially when ordered with the optional HSE LUX Package, which this tester was.
How luxurious are we talking about? Well, if the Ritz-Carlton made SUVs, this would be the one they'd make. It's luxury that's complete and thorough, but not flashy or ostentatious.
The base LR3's no slouch...and at $45,975, is something of a bargain, too...especially when you consider the off-road capabilities of the LR3. The photo above is baby stuff...it will climb a tree if you're brave enough.
Mine (for a week, anyway) added the Heavy Duty Package (full size spare tire and locking rear differential) for $750, the aforementioned HSE LUX Package (Premium leather, 19" alloy wheels, a premium audio system, Bi-Xenon headlamps and adaptive front lighting, driver memory pack, a console cooler box, navigation, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, a cold climate pack, front parking control and an electrically adjustable steering column) for $6,750 and the 7 Seat Comfort Package (a 3rd row seat with curtain airbags, split-folding 2nd row and rear climate control) for $1,150.
Bottom line, with California Emissions and transportation charges: $55,500. Not cheap, but not out of line either...you'll be hard pressed to find luxury SUVs for less...and you can option Tahoes and Expeditions within a hair of this price.
Mileage? About what you'd expect for a heavy SUV with a 300-horsepower V8: The EPA says 12 city/17 highway.
If you want a Range Rover but can't quite swing the $75,000 to $80,000 price range, the LR3 is a great way to get the luxury and the capability and save $20,000 to $25,000.