Mention the name Land Rover and many folks will conjure images of the Serengeti or an African safari. While others may recall seeing the Queen of England on TV foregoing a limo for a Land Rover as she travels to attend British functions.
Back here in the good ole USA, SUV buyers have come to know the brand as upscale, extremely capable with off-road features they’ll probably never use, but they’re there is they need to.
We were privileged to test the new Discovery model that is in its fifth generation. And it’s worlds apart from the first generation that debuted 28 years ago. The 2017 is nimbler, lighter, more powerful and more exceptional than any comparable SUV on the market.
Offered in SE, HSE, HSE Luxury and limited First Edition. We tested the next to the top-line HSE Luxury with seating for up to seven.
As its name implies, the HSE Luxury is perfectly suited for a queen. From its svelte appearance with its stepped-down roof and rounded edges to its durable and supportive leather seats, the HSE is luxury personified.
But aside from these attributes, it’s a 4WD luxury sport ute that can perform better than most other SUVs. See if you can find this on a luxury SUV: A 4WD system for snow, sand, mud and rock crawling mode, the latter of which adjusts the brakes 100 times a second for optimal traction capability, along with locking differentials. Plus (get this), with the All-Terrain Progress Control option, the driver merely presses a button, selects a speed up to 18 mph, then releases the brake. From there, Discovery takes over the throttle, controls the differential lock and braking. All you do is steer as Discovery trudges through, and over off-road obstacles. You may say it’s overkill, but you must admit it’s a unique system.
But that’s not all. Discovery is able to ford almost three feet of water with an 11-inch undercarriage clearance and has a 25.5 degree breakover angle, 29.5-degree approach angle and 28-degree departure angle making it one nimble SUV.
The new Discovery is now 800 pounds lighter thanks to an aluminum chassis and composite tailgate to mention a few weight saving attributes. This weight reduction contributes in part to the vehicles EPA mileage ratings of 16 city, 21-highway mpg with the standard 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 that produces an impressive 340-hp and 332 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the combination has been independently 0-60 tested at 6.9 seconds, which is remarkable in that Discovery can also tow up to a hefty 8,200 pounds. Needless to say, there’s no want for power as the V6 performs like a V8.
Also offered with the same trans is a 3.0L turbocharged diesel V6 that puts out 254-hp and a whopping 442 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage ratings of 21/26 mpg.
Step-in into the cabin is a mere 19.5 inches. Once in your treated to an array of sumptuous seats, wide screen (10-inch) display that serves the audio, navigation, surround view cameras and apps systems. The console contains a long array of controls starting with a rotary dial for transmission gearing, below it, a pop-up dial for selecting any of the five 4WD modes plus downhill descent, and below that, buttons to select height control with an electronic air suspension that can raise/lower the chassis about 11 inches. And next to them is a park assist button that allows the vehicle to park itself.
Second row seats are equally as comfy as the fronts with ample leg and headroom. The headrests flip down to give a clearer rear view and the entire seats fold forward for easy third seat ingress/egress where there’s surprisingly decent room for small statured adults. Both rows of seats can power down either from buttons on the sides of the cargo area or from the display touchscreen.
Back in the cargo area that has a 33.5-inch load height, the tailgate is a two-piece design with the top opening upward and the lower part flips down to form an 11.5-inch load platform. This extended gate requires a stretch to load items beyond the folded third row seats. Except for BMW’s X5 which uses the same design, most SUVs allow loading directly into the cargo area.
With the third row upright, cargo space measures 10.5 inches deep, 45 wide and 33 high. Power them down and depth extends to 47 inches for 40 cubic feet. Power the second row down and depth reaches to 77 inches or 83 cubic feet. Beneath the cargo floor is a hidden bin to stow small items out of sight.
Ride quality is smooth and quiet on 21-inch Pirelli tires. Handling is planted and when negotiating sharp turns, there’s virtually little body lean and no tippy feeling when the chassis is at its lowest height. Driver and passengers feel exceptionally safe in this SUV and it parks easily with a relatively tight turning radius.
Since the test car was not priced, Discovery HSE Luxury trim models will likely begin around $65,000. The option list included such goodies as adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, intelligent speed limiter, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, reverse traffic detect, driver condition monitor, Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control, locking rear diff, rear seat entertainment and a very long list of additional options. The standard list is twice as long. And we haven’t even mentioned the waterproof Activity Key wristband that can let yourself in, or the smartphone app that can remotely fold the seats and open the tailgate.
Warranty wise, Discovery comes with a 4 year/50K new vehicle warranty; 6 year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty; and roadside assistance for 4 years or 50,000 miles.
If you like the Discovery but would prefer more zip and extreme off-road capability (we can’t figure out why), the company recently announced an SVX version that has a 518-hp V8 with increased ground clearance, more acute approach/departure/breakover angles, skid plates and Hydraulic Active Roll Control for increased wheel articulation. It will enter production in 2018.