Downside: Computer glitch on tested pre-production models led to several brief engine stalls on steep hill climbs. Land Rover engineers said the matter will be corrected with new sensors in production models.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent on-road manners, excellent off-road competence. The several engine stalls raised eyebrows; but they were not significant enough to undermine the overall laudatory performance of the LR3.

Head-turning quotient: Aggressive without being visually offensive. Credit here goes to Land Rover designers' insistence on a clean, cladding-free exterior.

Body style/layout: The LR3 is a mid-size, front-engine, permanent all-wheel-drive SUV with four side doors and a rear hatch. The LR3 is available as the base SE and upscale HSE, the latter including a navigational system as standard equipment. In market position, it falls between the full-size Land Rover Range Rover and the compact Land Rover Freelander.

Engine/transmission: The LR3 comes with a new 4.4-liter V-8 that develops 300 horsepower at 5,500 revolutions per minute and 315 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 RPM. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that can also be operated manually.

Capacities: The LR3 has seating for up to seven people. Estimated payload capacity is 1,695 pounds. Estimated towing capacity is 3,000 pounds. Fuel capacity is 22.8 gallons of required premium unleaded.

Mileage: Estimated on-road mileage was 18 miles per gallon, combined city-highway. Environmental Protection Agency mileage ratings were not available at this writing.

Safety: Dual-stage-deployment front air bags; side air bags and head curtain bags; rigid body structure.

Price: Prices are not yet firm at this writing. The preliminary base price for the LR3 SE is $44,995. The HSE initially will start at $49,995, according to Land Rover.

Purse-strings note: The LR3 is easily one of the most competent mid-size SUVs on-road and off. It's a buy.