2000 Land Rover Discovery Series II Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Sue Mead Sue Mead Editor
November 22, 1999

Since it became available in January 1999, the Discovery Series II, an upscale sport-utility vehicle with a split personality, has boosted Land Rover sales 30 percent.

While basically a carry-over model for year 2000, changes include a stand-alone rear air conditioning option and a provision to keep the transmission in sport mode until deselected. (Prior to this fix, the "sport" setting reverted to "normal" each time the vehicle was shut down.)

In addition, Series II Discoverys come in two new paint hues, Alveston Red and Kent Green, and color combinations have been expanded: Whereas in 1999 only certain interior/exterior combinations were produced, customers can now mix and match.

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Land Rover completely redesigned its Discovery last year, and although its overall look is similar to the previous model, 85 percent of its parts are now new. To signify this, it was renamed the Land Rover Discovery Series II.

Fresh styling and a wider stance give it a more confident look. A host of new features to improve safety, comfort and convenience came with the retouching, too — the interior has been redesigned for improved outward visibility, increased roominess and easier operation.

 

Tackling mud and curves with confidence

But the biggest change to the Discovery is its handling. While the previous model felt tentative in transient maneuvers and leaned through corners, the new one feels firmly planted and tackles curves with confidence.

In spite of its refined roadworthiness, the Discovery Series II has not lost Land Rover's renowned off-road capability. It still features lots of suspension travel to climb over rocky terrain. It arguably remains the ultimate off-road utility vehicle.

The Discovery’s optional Active Cornering Enhancement (ACE) system has won numerous accolades. It’s the technology that gives the previously wallowy midsize SUV sports-sedan poise on uneven surfaces and when cornering.

The newest model is 4 inches wider and an inch shorter than the previous version, and the rear overhang has been extended by 6 inches for greater cargo capacity. Land Rover took an evolutionary (rather than revolutionary) approach to the design of this second-generation Discovery because owners and potential buyers said they loved the looks of the first-generation. So, while every body panel is new, the Discovery Series II still wears its distinctive, utilitarian appearance — as if it's ready for an African safari.

2000 Land Rover Discovery Series II

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The new design includes restyled hood and fenders, a deeper grille, and a one-piece bumper with integrated fog lamps. Wider, contoured rear quarter panels feature high-mount taillamp clusters that provide a more modern look and can be seen more easily.

Range Rover-style door handles are easier to open and the doors have been redesigned. An electrically released fuel filler door is standard. The full-size spare tire has been mounted lower on the rear door for improved visibility. Improved aerodynamics have reduced wind noise. Body gaps have been reduced, glass fits flush, and trim pieces are more integrated.

 

The tried and true V-8 lives on

The all-aluminum 4.0-liter Rover V-8 employs a new Bosch engine-management system and Thor intake manifold that increase power, efficiency and driveability. Permanent four-wheel drive means there's nothing the driver needs to do before plunging off-road.

Discovery comes standard with a four-speed ZF automatic transmission; a transfer case provides a low range for extremely steep or slippery terrain.

Also new is a sophisticated traction-control system that detects wheel slippage and applies brake pressure to the spinning wheel, thereby directing torque to the wheels with the best traction. The system is completely automatic.

Hill Descent Control, a Land Rover exclusive, maintains a controllable vehicle speed during steep off-road descents. The system works in low range below 34 mph. Drivers engage the system by pressing a button and keeping their feet off the pedals. HDC automatically applies brake pressure and uses engine braking for excellent control of the vehicle down steep grades.

Four-channel ABS uses Electronic Brake Distribution to provide quicker, safer stops. EBD, which is standard, transfers braking force front to rear to ensure optimum balance and stability.

Discovery's long-travel, live-axle suspension has also been revised. A wider track and new steering geometry provide better highway manners. Optional Active Cornering Enhancement uses hydraulic actuators to reduce body lean in turns. ACE works like an active anti-roll bar, and Land Rover claims it is a "world's first" in volume production of a sport-utility vehicle. ACE comes as part of a $2,900 Performance Package that includes 255/55HR-18 tires mounted on 18-inch wheels. (The Discovery comes standard with 255/65HR-16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels.) Anyone who spends most of his or her time on the road will benefit from this package, but it isn't necessary to appreciate the vast improvement in handling over the previous model.

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2000 Land Rover Discovery Series II

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A new $750 Self-Leveling Suspension keeps the Discovery level when carrying heavy cargo and can be used to manually raise or lower the vehicle for off-road situations or for attaching a trailer. Discovery uses a strong body-on-frame design. Side-impact beams are designed into all four doors, rather than just the front doors, as is the case for many SUVs.

 

Minimizing eccentricity

The interior of the Series II was also completely redesigned with the aim of minimizing its British eccentricity. Window switches are rearranged into a more logical layout. An automatic climate control provides separate temperature controls for driver and passenger and is easy to reach and adjust. The steering wheel and instrument cluster have been redesigned. Optional seat heaters add warmth in the winter. Interior stowage abounds with bins and pockets. There's a 12-volt accessory socket in the cargo area, and cargo nets, tie-downs, grab handles and a cargo cover are provided.

The driver's position affords excellent visibility. The top of the windshield has been raised to see overhead traffic signals easier. There's lots of headroom. Rear-seat passengers sit higher and can view the world through expansive side windows, upper alpine windows and their own sunroof. Cloth is available, but most Discoverys come with the $1,950 Appearance Package that includes leather interior, wood trim, an 11-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo and special 16-inch alloy wheels.

The step up to Discovery's interior is a big one and getting into the back seats is a bit of a squeeze. Once back there, rear-seat comfort has been improved with increased legroom and a redesigned seat cushion. Optional foldaway seats provide room for two more passengers in the cargo area; these are front-facing seats with cleverly designed head restraints and three-

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