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Land Rover Discovery 3 Review 2005

The Discovery 3 is one of the few luxury 4WDs that has good on-road manners and the ability to tackle the roughest terrain.

What better way to test out Land Rover's all-new Discovery 3? On the road the Disco 3 is comfortable, smooth and well behaved. Despite being big and bulky, it still corners well without feeling like it will tip over.

But have these on-road advances compromised its off-road ability? It still looks tough and feels tough but dos it have the serious off-road ability of its predecessor?

The test drive setting was an old 4X4 park. There was plenty of mud, a bit of water and a trail for climbing rocks. The vehicle's beach manners were tested on nearby sand dunes.

The Disco's four-wheel-drive mode is controlled by the Terrain Response system designed to make driving as simple as possible. A large dial on the centre console allows the driver to choose one of five settings. There are two on-road settings; a general driving and a slippery roads program (called grass/gravel/snow) and three off-road modes; mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl.

On the beach, the Disco cruised with ease in normal drive mode after the tyres had been deflated.

On the muddy and rutted track there was only a small section that caught the sophisticated system out, where a hill on a corner caused the car to slide to the bottom despite being in the mud-and-rut setting.

On steep hills and, at times, over big rocks, the rock-crawl setting walked the Disco along the trail, although it was a relief to know that all the vulnerable systems, such as cables and pipes, are either in the chassis rails or alongside them to avoid snagging or breaking as even in "extreme" height setting the occasional scrape was heard.

On the freeway it was necessary to be vigilant to maintain the legal speed limit in the diesel as it just kept on wanting to go.

The new Discovery comes in three engine types: a 4.0-litre petrol V6 with 160kW and 360Nm, a 4.4-litre petrol V8 with 220kW and 425Nm, and a 2.7-litre turbo-diesel V6 with 140kW and 440Nm. The three model choices include the base model S, the mid-spec SE and the top-spec HSE.

All models feature anti-skid brakes, hill descent, traction control, electronic centre differentials, dynamic stability control and terrain response system to make it more competitive against other luxury offroaders. Both the SE and the HSE come with the air suspension as standard. There is an extreme height setting to tackle big rocks, or at the other end of the scale, a low height mode to fit in the garage and 1.9m car parks.

The HSE (tested) has an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo with an in-dash six CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, front fog lamps, automatic headlights, headlight power wash, rain sensor, electro-chromic interior mirror, puddle and footwell lamps, leather upholstery, driver's armrest, leather gear knob, driver seat memory and rear park assist.

The model tested also had front park assist ($850), premium satellite navigation ($7300) and a sunroof plus Alpine roof ($3650) and safety comes first – there are airbags galore.

The Discovery is available in a seven-seat configuration with a third row of seats, although load space and rear vision is compromised with the third row in place. The third row offers decent-sized foot space so adults don't have to sit with their knees in the air. There's heaps of storage and drink bottle holders throughout, and a chilled box in the centre console. Without the third row of seats the luggage space becomes so large it is necessary to climb on to the rear tailgate to reach the back of the boot.

The Disco is a big car and parking in tight shopping centre car parks requires practice.

The diesel was the favourite but with three engine choices there's something for everyone. The Discovery 3 is one of the few luxury 4WDs that has good on-road manners and the ability to tackle the roughest terrain.

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Range and Specs

HSE 4.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,850 – 19,470 2005 Land Rover Discovery 3 2005 HSE Pricing and Specs
S 2.7L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $9,750 – 13,790 2005 Land Rover Discovery 3 2005 S Pricing and Specs
SE 2.7L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,333 – 11,600 2005 Land Rover Discovery 3 2005 SE Pricing and Specs
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