2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
January 19, 2021

Buying tip

With standard automatic emergency braking across the board, the Disco Sport’s best value is in S trim.

features & specs

S 4WD
S R-Dynamic 4WD
SE 4WD
MPG
19 city / 23 hwy
MPG
19 city / 23 hwy
MPG
19 city / 23 hwy
MSRP
$41,900
MSRP
$43,600
MSRP
$45,350

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport explores the borders of status and image better than it explores the wilderness.

What kind of SUV is the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport? What does it compare to?

The Discovery Sport scales down the classic Land Rover look and adapts it to a five- or seven-seat crossover cabin. It’s practical, affordable, and comfortable, but it’s not as ruggedly capable as other Landies. Compare it to a Mercedes GLC, BMW X3, or even a VW Tiguan.

Is the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport a good SUV?

Review continues below

It’s above average as a family wagon, though fuel economy falls behind the pack. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport?

Last year’s mild-hybrid powertrain has gone away, but a new infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is now standard—as are active lane control and a surround-view camera system.

It’s clearly related to bigger Land Rovers and Range Rovers, but the Discovery Sport’s leaner profile still telegraphs “crossover.” The headlights and grille meld into a smoother aero-friendly wagon body that’s without the drama infused in the similar Evoque. Want something more brutish? There’s always the Discovery proper. Inside the Sport the same ethos wraps a plain dash in more plastic than you’ll see in a more expensive Landie, with flourishes of high-resolution displays and metallic trim.

The Disco Sport keeps a turbo-4 beat with its 2.0-liter engine. With 246 hp and a 9-speed automatic, it’s quick to reach highway speeds and grunty enough to launch from stoplights with authority. The mild-hybrid option from 2020 is gone—and the Sport doesn’t have a low-range gearbox for rock-crawling. Traction’s still effective in slippery weather, and on pavement the Sport handles with an almost stiff ride.

Four adults can spend hours in the Disco Sport’s seats, but a fifth in the second row won’t be very comfortable. Neither will anyone seated in the available third row; it’s among the smallest we’ve tested and it’s short on space in every dimension, except perhaps time. Keep it folded down to max out the Sport’s cargo space.

Automatic emergency braking and a surround-view camera system come with every Discovery Sport, but it hasn’t been crash-tested.

How much does the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport cost?

Prices start at $42,950 for the Discovery Sport S and its new twin-touchscreen infotainment system, 18-inch wheels, and LED headlights. Fully optioned R-Dynamic SE models get adaptive cruise control, a power tailgate, and high-end audio—and cost more than $50,000.

Where is the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport made?

In England.

7

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Styling

The Disco Sport’s interchangeable good looks make it the daytime soap opera star of Land Rovers.

Is the Land Rover Discovery Sport a good-looking SUV?

We’ll admit we find the Discovery Sport handsome, but in a generic way. It’s well within the norms of polite crossover-SUV style, so we give it an extra point for the interior and exterior, for a 7.

From some angles the Sport might be mistaken for the bigger Discovery, perhaps even a Range Rover Sport. It’s finely detailed but not as well distinguished as the old Freelander/LR2 SUVs that preceded it. Even with all the angular bends in its body, the bluff front end, and the rectilinear rear, it’s still not as memorable as the rest of the Land Rover family.

Inside the Sport has a more reserved look that’s still attractive. It’s pared down of any controversial details, framed in bright metallic and plastic trim, lined with synthetic or real leather, and fitted with twin (or three) digital displays. Opt for the contrast-color upholstery, which elevates the interior look with light-colored material.

Review continues below
7

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Performance

The Discovery Sport proffers a bold off-road image, but it’s better equipped to tackle pavement.

The Land Rover reputation for off-road performance doesn’t extend completely to the Discovery Sport. It’s equipped with some all-weather hardware, but it’s designed as a family crossover SUV, with the emphasis on the first two words.

We give it a 7 here, with points for its powertrain and handling.

How fast is the Land Rover Discovery Sport?

All Discovery Sports tap a 2.0-liter turbo-4 couples to a 9-speed automatic. With 246 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, Land Rover promises a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, and delivers it with good stoplight-launch torque down low.

Is the Land Rover Discovery Sport 4WD?

The 9-speed automatic operates smoothly through the standard all-wheel-drive system. It can get confused with rapid throttle changes—and since there’s no low-range gearbox, it’s not as adept as the more sophisticated vehicles in the Land Rover family.

Still, we’ve been impressed by its ability to trundle around on moderately difficult trails. The Sport has driver-selectable traction modes that can alter its transmission shifts and stability control—allowing more wheelspin in sand, for example. It’s too long, too luxurious, and has deep bumpers that limit its rock-climbing, but it’s well sorted to tackle most dirt roads.

On pavement, the Sport’s refined though not as keen on speed as a Range Rover Sport, nor as plushly suspended as a Range Rover. The tautly tuned suspension becomes more pronounced with the largest 20-inch wheels.

Review continues below
7

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Comfort & Quality

The Discovery Sport can seat up to seven, but four’s our max.

We give the Discovery Sport a 7 for comfort and quality, with extra points for its front seats and its cargo space. We consider it a five-seater, but there’s a catch.

The Sport’s front seats have very firm and flat cushions, but lots of adjustment range. They’re covered in synthetic leather and cloth, and can be upgraded to leather and 14-way power adjustment, with heating. We like the high seating position, which grants the Sport good outward vision, and the multiple bins and pockets meant for charging smartphones wirelessly or storing other odds and ends.

The second-row seat has ample leg room and a six-inch track on which to slide forward or rearward. It’s not wide enough to transport three full-size adults on a regular basis but two adults will have lots of elbow room.

Skip the available third-row seat. It’s barely suitable for children, and it’s hard and flat. Save the change for heated second-row seats, and put the Discovery Sport’s cargo hold to the test instead. It can hold 34.6 cubic feet of stuff behind row two, or 62.8 cubic feet behind the front buckets.

The Discovery’s not badged a Range Rover, and the hard plastics in the cabin are proof of its more rugged orientation. Pricey versions have a touch of luxury, with metal trim and soft leather.

Review continues below

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Safety

The Disco Sport’s missing crash-test results.

How safe is the Land Rover Discovery Sport?

Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has crash-tested the Discovery Sport, so we don’t score it here.

Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system are standard, while blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control are options across the board.

Review continues below
7

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Features

New standard features and infotainment lift the Discovery Sport’s profile.

The Discovery Sport has made up ground with a new infotainment system that adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto this year. It’s already strapped with lots of standard features and a long list of options. It’s a 7 here—it would be an 8 if it also carried the free service its Jaguar kin applies to the standard 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.

The base $42,950 Discovery Sport S gets the new twin-touchscreen infotainment system, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a surround-view camera system, and LED headlights. The $44,650 R-Dynamic S adds fender flares and more stylish 18-inch wheels.

Which Land Rover Discovery Sport should I buy?

We’d go with the $46,350 Disco Sport SE, which gains a digital 12.3-inch instrument panel and 19-inch wheels. 

How much is a fully loaded Land Rover Discovery Sport?

The $48,000 R-Dynamic SE adopts LED headlights and dark 19-inch wheels. Adaptive cruise control, a rear camera mirror, a power tailgate, high-end audio, and 14-way power seats are available to push the price over $50,000.

Review continues below
3

2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Fuel Economy

The Discovery Sport drops slightly in fuel economy.

Is the Land Rover Discovery Sport good on gas?

Fuel economy scores from the EPA vary each year due to tire changes and equipment additions. This year the Discovery Sport’s EPA ratings change, and it costs it a point—it sinks from a 4 to a 3.

The Discovery Sport ekes out 19 mpg city, 23 highway, 20 combined. One mile per gallon lower on the combined cycle, it’s not much more efficient than some larger SUVs. It no longer is offered in the mild-hybrid form that appeared briefly in the 2020 model year.

Review continues below
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$41,900
MSRP based on S 4WD
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 3
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