2017 Land Rover Discovery Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
June 19, 2017

An SUV or crossover that provides a better balance of capability than the 2017 Land Rover Discovery simply doesn't exist.

Land Rover has re-discovered the icon it forgot it had. The 2017 Land Rover Discovery represents a thorough re-think of the way the British brand known for conquering the Kalahari approaches buyers who want room for everything they—and their kids—do.

Based on our initial drive of the 2017 Land Rover Discovery, we've awarded it 7.6 out of 10 available points on account of its impeccable on- and off-road manners, as well as its surprising ability to seat seven passengers in comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Disco is offered in SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury trim levels and its price ranges from the low-$50,000 level up to $80,000. That's an enormous spread, but even a modestly optioned model feels special enough to warrant the small premium it commands over competition like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, and Lexus GX 460. 

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You'll find two Discovery models in Land Rover dealerships; this one is the flagship, while the Discovery Sport is smaller and shares little with its big brother. The head honcho Disco is actually a closer relative to the aluminum-bodied Range Rover and Range Rover Sport than it is to the smaller Discovery Sport.

Land Rover Discovery styling and performance

The new Discovery bears the same design themes as its Sport companion, but being that it's developed on a completely different architecture, it's longer and wider, with a more imposing stance. It is a radical departure from the past Discovery/LR3/LR4 machines (which were, incidentally, known as Discovery 3 and Discovery 4 overseas): the planar body panels and T-square-sharpened angles have been deposed by a softer silhouette that's almost pure crossover. We see plenty of Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer detailing, but that's not necessarily a dig at the Rover. 

The Land Rover cues that remain intact are the mesh grille, LED headlights, and a slight bump in the roofline toward the back, where it provides a bit more head room for third-row riders—though it's a much less pronounced bump than in its ancestors. The roof can be painted in a contrast color (silver or black), because the Mini Cooper shouldn't have all that fun. If you're in a sunbelt climate, beware the black roof, since all models have either a fixed or power-operated glass panel that lets in all the rays Americans (but not Brits) know so well. 

The Discovery interior marks no departures from the current state of Land Rover art. It's an austere place at first glance, with a plainly drawn intersection of horizontal and vertical dash members, plenty of gloss black trim, a rotary control to direct the transmission, and a wide, high-resolution touchscreen and colorful interface. To warm up the place, Land Rover puts oak, aluminum, and premium leather on the options list. No model is as quirky as Discos of the past, but they're also far more convincing luxury rigs. 

On the performance front, the Discovery offers a choice between gas and diesel powertrains. The former is the familiar 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, putting out 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, via an 8-speed automatic and standard 4-wheel drive. The $2,000 upgrade is a unit that works exceptionally well in the Range Rovers: a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 254 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, with great low-end grunt, also coupled to the same 8-speed and 4-wheel drive.

With a body that weighs up to 1,000 pounds less than the prior LR4, performance stats improve greatly. Ride and handling make massive strides as well, since the new Discovery uses a strut and integral-link suspension and because while not dainty, it is much lighter. That diet pays dividends in both fuel economy—16 mpg city, 21 highway, 18 combined (gas) and 21/26/23 mpg (diesel)—and driving dynamics. 

As for its off-road bona fides, the new Discovery has an extra 1.7 inches of ground clearance versus the old LR4, at 11.1 inches, and fording depth is up 7.9 inches, to 35.4 inches in all. Land Rover's terrain-response and traction controls are fitted; they adapt throttle, transmission, and traction and stability-control programming to suit the conditions under the tires, everything from slick rock to mud. No shortage of off-road doo-dads are part of the picture, but you'll have to pay extra for a low range, a height-adjustable air suspension, and the brand's Terrain Response 2 traction management system. Suffice to say that if you don't want to know what those features are, you can skip that option. 

The Discovery can town up to 8,200 pounds (with the turbodiesel V-6), and a new system takes over the challenge of parking a towed vehicle by running the steering for the driver, using cameras and sensors to ensure a better parking job.

Discovery seating, utility, and features

With three rows of seating for up to seven passengers, the Discovery promises a useful boost over the Disco Sport and its abbreviated "+2" third-row seats suitable only for small children. In the Discovery, the front passengers have the option of heated and ventilated chairs, but all models come with 12-way power thrones wrapped in leather.

In the third row, Land Rover has packaged in enough space for adults to ride in comfort, although there's precious little space behind those seats when they're up. And when cargo takes precedence, the Discovery's available power third-row seat can be reconfigured via a smartphone app. In all, the Disco has 82.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats, and 45 cubic feet behind the second-row seat. If you don't need room for more than five, you can skip the second row option. 

A power tailgate can come with a fold-out panel that offers outward-facing bench seats for sport events, under the cover of the single-piece tailgate. An Activity Key allows owners to lock their keyfob in the car, and strap on a $400 sports-proof, Fitbit-style band that unlocks and locks the vehicle.

Other features on the Discovery include the InControl touchscreen interface, with USB ports, Bluetooth audio streaming, and smartphone compatibility—though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto remain off the playlist. A 17-speaker Meridian sound system and in-car wireless hotspot are also offered.

The Disco hasn't yet been crash tested, but all models are equipped with a full range of airbags. An option absolutely worth selecting is the $125 automatic emergency braking system (which really should be standard). Other extra-cost goodies include lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, and a system that will nudge a drifting Discovery back into its lane. 

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