Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Here are 5 reasons why a Gen 3 LS engine is the easiest and most straightforward swap option for a Land Rover Discovery.
Gen 3 LS engines are inexpensive. With 4.8s available for less than $500, and 5.3s frequently available for under $700, Gen 3 engines are a tremendous bargain in the used engine market. Even 6.0 Gen 3 engines can be found for around $1000. Compared to Gen 4 5.3 engines, which frequently are $2000 just for the engine (even with high mileage), the Gen 3 engines are a good value.
Gen 3 LS engines are easy to find parts for. Even though some Gen 3 LS engines are nearing 20 years old, they have some of the cheapest and easiest-to-find parts available. Furthermore, full rebuild kits for Gen 3 LS engines are inexpensive and common. Many Gen 3 LS engines are still on the road in their original vehicles.
Gen 3 LS engines are simple. Unlike the Gen 4 and 5 LS and LT engines that have variable valve timing, displacement on demand, cylinder deactivation, direct injection and a bunch of other parts that can easily break and compromise reliability, these “features” are notably absent on the Gen 3 LS engines. The technology in the Gen 3 engine is mature and dependable. This makes the Gen 3 LS more reliable and easier to work on.
Gen 3 LS engines have simpler and easier to tune control systems. The Gen 3 LS engine computer is simple and well-known at this point. Mixing and matching different parts is not a problem, and the computers are cheap to tune. In contrast to the Gen 4 and Gen 5 computers which run CAN bus systems and interact frequently with other body modules (making them a headache for swaps and mixing and matching parts), the Gen 3 module runs analog signals for most necessary signals, meaning that no expensive CAN bus modules are necessary for things like shifters, neutral safety switches, or reverse lights. Harnesses for the Gen 3 engines are also inexpensive.
The Gen 3 LS engines support drive-by-cable. Land Rovers from this era were originally setup for drive-by-cable also, so setup is easy. No changing over to a GM drive-by-wire gas pedal is required, which makes the swap easier.