The Return of Disco — Again
One year ago Land Rover brought back the Discovery name on the all-new compact Discovery Sport. Now the famed British marque is returning to market with the Sport’s bigger sibling, the 7-passenger Discovery. The last time the U.S. market had a big Discovery was 2004, and while this new model is light-years beyond the original in style, comfort and technology, it will likely further the Land Rover tenet of legendary off-road capability.
Classic Yet Modern Styling
Echoing the modern styling of the Discovery Sport, the fifth-generation Discovery is larger to accommodate seven passengers and additional cargo space. A number of design cues carry forward from the original Discovery, including a stepped roofline as well as stadium-like seating — the rear seats sit higher for better forward visibility from every seat.
Redefining the Large SUV
As Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern notes, “The all-new Discovery redefines the large SUV. The Land Rover design and engineering teams have revolutionized the Discovery DNA to create a highly desirable, extremely versatile and hugely capable premium SUV. We truly believe the result is a radical departure in design that will introduce the Discovery Family to a new, wider customer base.”
There are many 7-passenger crossovers that have comfortable seating for five, and then two small seats at the rear. Land Rover claims that its third-row will comfortably accommodate 95th-percentile adults. All three rows are available with heated seats — and the first and second rows can also be cooled. Driver and front-passenger seats also offer a massage feature.
The interior design focuses on flexibility. In fact, seating can be configured using controls at the rear of the vehicle, on the primary dash display or remotely on a smartphone app via Land Rover’s Intelligent Seat Fold technology. We’re not totally convinced about the inherent value of remote seat folding — perhaps because no automaker has presented the possibility before.
A number of high-tech features are available on the Discovery, including a large 10-inch high-resolution touchscreen display that was first introduced on the Jaguar side of the house. (India’s Tata Motors owns Jaguar Land Rover.) Up to six 12-volt charge points and as many as nine USB charging ports have been placed throughout the cabin.
Another carryover from Jaguar is the Active Key wristband. First introduced on the Jaguar F-PACE, the waterproof wristband can be used to lock and unlock the Discovery. When locking the vehicle, the key fob gets deactivated so it can be left inside the vehicle; unlocking with the wristband reactivates the fob. This ingenious setup allows the driver to enjoy outdoor activities without concern for losing the key fob from a pocket.
Diesel or Gas?
Discovery will be available with a choice of two powertrains. Buyers must decide between a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 producing 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, or a turbodiesel option putting out 254 horsepower and an impressive 443 lb-ft of torque at a low 1750 rpm. Both powerplants get teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Of course the new Discovery retains all the off-road capability SUV buyers have come to expect from Land Rover. The Disco has 11.1 inches of ground clearance and can wade through almost three feet of water. The multi-mode Terrain Response system optimizes a range of settings with the turn of a dial, changing throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics depending on conditions and terrain. An automatic mode also detects conditions and chooses the correct settings without driver input. And if weekend warriors run out of space inside for all their toys, the Discovery has a tow rating of 8,201 pounds.
Coming Next Year
The Discovery will go on sale in midyear 2017 with a base price of $49,990. A limited run of 529 “First Edition” models will be available in the United States, with exclusive features including unique etched map detailing on the aluminum trim of the doors and dashboard, unique badges, special color choices and a long list of standard equipment.