2017 Land Rover Discovery: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll New
No one ever expected the return of Disco. Of course, we’re not talking dance music from the ‘70s — this latest resurgence is the all-new Land Rover Discovery, which used to be nicknamed Disco. With modern styling, roomy interior and impressive off-road capability, the Discovery fills a new space in the Land Rover lineup, distinct from the more luxurious Range Rovers and not as intense as the upcoming Defender (yes, it’s returning too — eventually). Discovery joins the smaller Discovery Sport that arrived a few years ago.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSome History
The Discovery first came to America in 1994 as a 1995 model. Priced lower than the Range Rover but offering brand cachet as well as off-road capability, the Disco’s purpose was to expand Land Rover’s market share in the U.S. Available until 2004, the Discovery was then redesigned and renamed LR3. The LR3 remained in America until 2009 when the line was discontinued. Fast forward to 2017 and an all-new Discovery. Although it carries some of the original styling cues and market placement, the new Discovery is far removed from that original Disco.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The new Land Rover Discovery comes to market in a choice of four trims: SE, HSE, HSE Luxury and a limited-availability First Edition. All feature permanent 4-wheel drive as well as a locking center differential and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system.

© Jaguar Land RoverDiscovery SE
As the base trim of the Discovery, the SE has a starting MSRP of $49,990. Standard features include dual-zone climate control, leather seat trim, a 250-watt audio system, rain-sensing wipers, a gesture-operated power tailgate, a fixed panoramic glass sunroof and 19-inch alloy wheels. Seating for five is standard; 7-passenger seating is available.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDiscovery HSE
Priced at $56,950, the HSE upgrades the SE with navigation, a 380-watt Meridian audio system, tri-zone climate control, a sliding glass sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a power inner tailgate, LED headlights, fog lights and 20-inch wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDiscovery HSE Luxury
The top-of-the-line HSE Luxury has a starting price of $63,950 and adds air suspension, 7-passenger seating with a power-folding third row, a 2-speed transfer case, upgraded Windsor leather seats, front and rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel, configurable interior mood lighting, an 825-watt Meridian audio system and unique 20-inch wheels.

© Jaguar Land RoverDiscovery First Edition
With a starting MSRP of $73,950, the First Edition stands out thanks to special badging, Cartography interior trim, premium metallic paint, a cooler in front center console, Terrain Response 2 with All-Terrain Progress control, Activity Key, a heated windshield and 21-inch wheels. The First Edition also features the latest advanced safety equipment including Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist — all standard. Only 500 Discovery First Editions will be available.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Discovery has two engine choices: a gasoline or a diesel. The standard powerplant on all trims is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 producing 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Fuel-economy ratings come in at 16 mpg city / 21 mpg hwy / 18 mpg combined.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDiesel Option
The diesel engine — available on HSE and HSE Luxury — is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 producing 254 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The diesel delivers improved fuel economy, as it should: 21 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy / 23 mpg combined. Opting for the diesel will set buyers back another $2,000.

© Jaguar Land RoverInner Space
Although Discovery is specifically designed as a subordinate to the Range Rover, the interior appointments still satisfy a luxury eye. We spent most of our press time in the HSE and HSE Luxury trims. After several hours on the road — and off-road — the seats remained very comfortable. Multiple power adjustment ensure drivers will be able to find an ideal seat position.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSecond Row
Second-row seats offer impressive legroom — three adults should easily fit back there, and with a flat floor no one gets stuck sitting over a hump. If the new Disco gets configured for total passenger comfort, second-row residents have access to navigation, climate controls and media/movies via screens mounted behind the front-seat head restraints.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThird Row
Typical third-row seating is best used by small children; however, the Discovery’s third-row space is quite good. Two adults would find enough headroom, hip-room and legroom for a relatively comfortable ride. The difficulty lies in third-row access; the second row can be tilted and slid forward, but some skill is still required to climb into or out of the back row.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePlenty of Storage
The Discovery’s cabin has considerable storage including a few secret cubbies. Two cupholders in the center console slide aside to reveal a deep storage area that, according to Land Rover, can hold four iPads; pushing a button on the dash moves a panel of climate-control switches to reveal another hidden spot for storing small valuables.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCooler
A large bin between the front passengers can be transformed into a cooler with capacity to hold four bottles of water. A hook on the passenger side will secure a purse or bag.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBack Space
Seat-pocket storage is available for second-row passengers, and those in the third row will find storage cubbies on either side of the vehicle, complete with power ports.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStaying Connected
The Discovery has a total of nine USB ports throughout the vehicle as well as six 12-volt outlets. Not only will passengers have power for electronic gadgets, the new Disco’s Wi-Fi hotspot can connect up to eight devices. Setting up the Wi-Fi is simple — we were up and connected in a few minutes.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Area
When all three rows are in use, cargo room is limited — a large suitcase would probably not fit in the available space; however, several grocery bags would certainly not be a problem.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBig Space
That said, there is plenty of space with the third row folded and, if needed, both rows can be folded to create a rather large, flat cargo floor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTailgate
The new Discovery has a small internal tailgate that can only be lowered with the cargo door open. Able to hold up to 660 pounds, the tailgate makes for easy loading, or provides a place to sit during pre-event festivities. It also keeps gear from falling out when the tailgate is raised.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePower Seats
Both second- and third-row seats — and the tailgate — can be opened or folded electrically via buttons in the cargo area. This does seem a little excessive, but it is convenient — especially if you need to fold all seats at once before loading a large item. Land Rover even offers an app so that the seats can be configured from your smartphone.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn- and Off-Road
We put several hundred miles on the Discovery while driving on- and off-road in the American Southwest, and determined that Discovery is one versatile vehicle. On pavement the new SUV is extremely quiet with very little wind or road noise. Even when the road surface is less than ideal the ride is relatively smooth. This was especially surprising in the diesel — unless the windows were open we couldn’t hear the engine noise typically associated with diesels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot a Speed Demon
Acceleration with the gas-powered Discovery is adequate — we wouldn’t call it quick, but it is certainly admirable for a 7-passenger SUV. The diesel Discovery was noticeably slower to accelerate; we expected the low-end torque to get us moving more quickly, but we didn’t really feel any difference. According to Land Rover, the gasoline version reaches 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, the diesel in 7.7 — neither time anything to be ashamed of.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVery Capable
Unfortunately, most buyers won’t experience the true capabilities of Discovery, which become apparent when the pavement ends. A few stats: Ground clearance is 8.6 inches, but with air suspension the SUV can clear more than 11 inches; Discovery can wade through almost three feet of water; maximum ascent/descent angle is 45 degrees; maximum side slope angle is 35 degrees.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTerrain Response
Discovery also can be equipped with a Terrain Response system that will automatically configure the vehicle based on conditions, or the driver can select from specific setups such as Mud & Ruts, Rocks or Sand. Also available is All-Terrain Progress Control, which is akin to off-road cruise control. Set the speed (usually under 10 mph) and the vehicle will accelerate and brake as needed to get over or through severe terrain. We used the system for rock climbing, simply setting the speed to 3 mph and all we had to do was steer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceComfortable Ride
Not only does Discovery possess extreme capabilities, it is surprisingly comfortable when the terrain gets rough. Driving at a good clip over rutted and slippery surfaces would be jarring in most vehicles, but the Discovery stays composed with a smooth, quiet ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRocks and Sand
To showcase Discovery’s versatility, our press junket went from slow crawls over rocks to high-speed climbs over sand dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah. Even with extremely limited traction, the Discovery’s 4-wheel-drive system kept us moving up and over steep dunes. Most of the time.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot Infallible
We must admit that the Discovery is not infallible — ultimately no vehicle is. We made the mistake of driving too slowly in the soft sand with standard street tires, and unfortunately sank to the point of having no traction at any wheel. This was more an issue of driver error than vehicle capability, and a quick tow from another Land Rover put us back on our way again.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
Discovery delivers the comfort and capability of more expensive Range Rovers; but with a starting price that is $35,000 less, the new SUV does not have the same level of style, luxury and exclusivity. That said, if your vehicle needs lead you to a 7-passenger SUV in the $50,000-$70,000 price range, there aren’t many SUVs on the road that can match the Discovery’s capability and versatility. And with the high-end Meridian audio system, you can bring back disco in your Disco.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Extreme capability; comfortable seating for seven; solid ride.
Cons: Not very quick; difficulty getting into third row; little cargo space with all seats up.
Bottom Line: Versatility and extreme capability of a Land Rover in a more affordable package.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Discovery

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