Luxury off-roaders; no one does them better than Land Rover. Take this all-new Discovery for example. It’s a real SUV that’ll confidently take you and up to 6 others anywhere you want to go all while fully enveloped in soft leather and real wood. Load it up with goodies and put a diesel under the hood and you’ve got one unstoppable, fully sumptuous trail boss.
You may remember this model as the LR4 but it’s now a member of Land Rover’s burgeoning family of more affordable SUVs sold under the Discovery name aimed at entry luxury buyers. Pricing starts in the low 50s or about $17,000 less than the most affordable 3-row from the Range Rover line. It looks sportier, and it gains 5.5” in length while copping a lower roofline. Moving off of the LR4’s steel ladder frame onto an aluminum intensive unibody has shaved about 1,000 pounds. Most will stick with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with its sub 7-second 0-to-60mph time but those who appreciate the robust low-end power and better mileage of a diesel can choose this…
Like torque? Then you’re going to love this 3.0-liter turbodiesel. It puts out 443 pound-feet of smooth, quiet operation. Plus, it returns 23mpg.
Though it’s the gas engine that can pull over 8,200 pounds, this diesel is no slouch with max towing of 7,700 pounds. And for off-roading, the diesel’s a perfect fit. The key ingredients that make the Discovery so unbeatable out here are the air suspension allowing for over 11” of ground clearance, nearly 3’ of wading depth, and the sophisticated Terrain Response 2 system with its dummy-proof auto setting and 2-speed transfer case with low range gears and locking center differential. This is positively no poseur. Even on these 20” sport truck tires it handled everything we threw at it. However, if you’re going to really off-road your Discovery, and I certainly hope that you will, you’ll want to invest in more capable rubber.
This new Disco is completely at home on the trail. Even though the Range Rover model is known as the off-road king, the Discovery feels more like the true, down and dirty SUV. It’s versatile, stylish and infinitely capable. When the driving is less taxing, the Disco has a traditionally soft, big SUV demeanor with quick responses but also inducing a bit of head sway as its high center of gravity and cushy suspension lend themselves to some gentle body roll. This is not a sporty handling SUV. Rather, a vault on wheels that imbues a sense of invincibility.
Not all Discovery models have 7-passenger seating but this one does. And with myriad switches, the 2nd and 3rd rows are power operated, automatically adjusting the seats around them so you don’t have to do any of the maneuvering; very clever. The rear hatch doesn’t split anymore but there is a small shelf you can use as a seat when tailgating and there are more switches in the back to lower the air suspension for easier loading.
The Discovery really maximizes its interior space. The third row is a little claustrophobic for adults but fine for kids as long as those in the 2nd row are willing to slide up a bit. There is a nifty rear seat entertainment system with access to audio and navigation screens but my adult passengers this week complained about having to stare directly into the rear headrests when their seats were not fully reclined.
Other add-ons for this fully loaded, near $80,000 HSE Luxury tester are a slightly off kilter, not great looking head-up display, 16-way memory seats in soft Windsor leather, a front console cooler compartment, surround camera and the Drive Pro Package consisting of all the safety assist features we love including traffic sign recognition. This baby has just about everything except cooled seats and a working keyless entry system, for some reason it failed including the gesture controlled tailgate. I’d also show you this hidden compartment but it only opened about half of the time.
As you know, I’m not a big InControl fan but the satellite navigation mapping is impressive as is the 825 watt Meridian Sound System it controls. Plus, a smartphone app gives you control of many functions including arranging the power seats. You sit very high in the driver’s seat, providing that “above traffic” position and the comfort and feature level is extremely high…plus it’s amazingly quiet.
But if you never intend to use the Discovery’s full capabilities there are less expensive ways to get into a luxury 3-row. It’s so amazing at its Land Rover duties however; I would love to call this my family vehicle.
TDN NEWS: LAND ROVER ANNOUNCES NEW MODEL YEAR UPDATES TO 2018 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY. On sale early 2018, priced from $52,090. CLICK FOR MORE DETAILS.