2017 Land Rover Discovery Review

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2017 Land Rover Discovery Review

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

5 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProExcellent on and off the road.

  2. ConLower-price models skimp on features.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Land Rover Discovery SD4 SE 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The new-generation Land Rover Discovery can seat seven people in comfort but feels easier to handle, and more nimble, than its size and tall stance suggest. This big four-wheel drive wagon is also very smooth and comfortable – it feels like a luxury car to ride in – and yet it remains extremely capable off-road, and can carry and tow heavy loads. Auto braking is standard.

You can also read our review of the Discovery that this car replaced in August 2017.

What might bug me?

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How much you paid for your Discovery by the time you had added the features you wanted. Even the third seat-row is an option costing thousands of dollars.

That you cannot control smartphone apps from your touchscreen via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At extra cost however, you can add Land Rover’s InControl Apps, a smartphone integration system which works in a broadly similar way.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door 4WD-style wagon only, with seating for five or (optionally) seven people.

Every Discovery drives all four wheels at all times.

Discoveries with the least-powerful engine have single-range four-wheel drive. All others are available with dual-range 4WD.

Dual-range Discoveries give you a second set of gears that allow you to drive comfortably at very low speeds, so that you can tackle rough off-road terrain.

The Discovery is classed as a large SUV, higher priced.

What features do all Discoveries have?

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A sound system with a radio, USB input, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio streaming, and at least six speakers, controllable from a colour touchscreen.

Leather wrap on the steering wheel, which carries buttons for operating the cruise control, the multimedia system and your phone. Paddle shifters for the auto gearbox.

A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors. Automatic transmission.

Dual-zone air-conditioning, which lets the driver and front passenger control ventilation independently.

Twelve-volt power outlets in the centre console, the second seat row and the boot area.

Aluminium alloy wheels, and a full-sized spare. (You can substitute a space-saver spare at no cost.)

Traction control, which resists wheelspin in slippery conditions and is a great help off road.

Hill Descent control, which can automatically hold down your speed on rough or slippery downhills.

Terrain Response, which lets you optimise the traction control, accelerator response, and several other mechanical functions, in concert, for different conditions on-road and off – with the turn of a dial.

Trailer Stability Assist, which helps prevent an oscillation developing when you are towing.

Auto emergency braking, and lane departure warning.

Six airbags. Stability control, which helps you avoid and control skids. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Discovery safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

Five seats are standard, but in any Discovery you can pay more for seven.

If the list of standard features looks skimpy for such an expensive vehicle, that’s because it is. Just about everything else is an extra-cost option, or is standard only with the more expensive Discoveries.

Land Rover warranties the Discovery for three years or 100,00km, whichever comes first. There is also a six-year warranty that covers the body against corrosion.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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Three engines are available in a Discovery, all of them turbocharged diesels. Two are 2.0-litre four-cylinders, and the third is a 3.0 litre V6.

The 2.0-litre fours use less fuel than the V6, and there is little between them: both use less than 6.5 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined), which is an extraordinarily good figure for such a big 4WD vehicle.

Choosing your four-cylinder diesel therefore comes down to how much you want to spend, how hard you want your Discovery to go, and how far off the beaten track you want to get.

The less costly of the fours is also the less powerful, relying on a single turbocharger. This is the Td4 engine, and it is not available with dual-range gearing.

The more powerful four-cylinder uses two turbochargers and is designated the Sd4. It makes about 30 per cent more power than the Td4.

Both four-cylinders are newly developed by Land Rover, using its latest Ingenium technology. With a Td4 engine, this much lighter new car will accelerate about as well as the less powerful of the previous Discoveries, the six-cylinder TDV6. With an Sd4 engine, the new car performs much like the more powerful, SDV6, versions of the previous Discovery.

Indeed, a Discovery with the Sd4 engine gives little away to a Discovery fitted with the third engine available, the Td6. This V6 is a revised version of the SDV6 from the previous generation. While it offers more power on paper than the Sd4, performance feels about the same in general driving. You might notice the strength of the Td6 more with a significant load on board or when towing, however.

The Td6 uses 7.2 litres/100km on the official test. That figure is a lot lower than its predecessor recorded in the superseded Discovery, in part because the new car is much lighter.

You can have dual-range gearing with any Discovery Sd4 or Td6.

Every Discovery uses an eight-speed auto gearbox from German maker ZF.

(Power outputs and all other Land Rover Discovery specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Land Rover offers the new Discovery at four increasingly lavish equipment levels, each available with any engine. In addition, most equipment can be added at extra cost to less expensive Discoveries.

Spending as little as possible on a Discovery will get you a Discovery S, with cloth seats, an 8.0-inch central touchscreen, 19-inch wheels, the least powerful (Td4) engine, single-range 4WD, and the features of every Discovery. You can spend more for an Sd4 or Td6 engine, which allows you to choose dual-range gearing.

Having chosen your engine and drivetrain, you can pay more again for a Discovery SE. That will get you leather-trimmed seats, with power-adjustment up front, and headlights and windscreen wipers that switch themselves on when required. There is satellite navigation, and the dual-zone ventilation will maintain a set temperature. The sound system has more power, and the cabin can be illuminated softly at night.

There is also a very significant mechanical change: the SE introduces Land Rover’s air suspension, which replaces steel springs with pneumatic support for the car. This allows you to adjust how high the car rides. It can lower the Discovery when you want to get in or out, and it can add under-car clearance when required on rough ground.

Spending more for a Discovery HSE gets you a memory for driver’s-seat adjustments, and three-zone climate control (rear passengers too can set their own temperature). The central touchscreen is bigger at 10 inches, the satellite navigation is better, the tailgate power-opens, and a smart key can be left in your pocket or bag while you unlock the car. The sound system is Meridian-branded and louder again. Headlamps switch automatically to low beam when necessary, and the wheel size grows an inch to 20 inches.

The HSE also brings you an inner tailgate that can be power-lowered to form a picnic seat or table. And it introduces power-folding rear seats as an extra-cost option. You can also order rear seats with remote-control, so that you can fold them from your phone to prepare the car for big loads. (This extends to third-row seats if you have them.)

If all this seems insufficiently pampering, you can pay a lot more for an HSE Luxury. A good chunk of that extra change will go on a finer grade of leather for the interior trim. The front seats are heated and cooled, and have more dimensions of adjustment, and you can power raise or lower the headrests. The mood lighting inside is more extensive and you can select from a palette of colours. The centre-console contains a cooled compartment, the sound system is yet more highly specified, the tailgate opens to a gesture from your foot, and the reversing camera can provide views in any direction. There is a two-panel glass sunroof, whose front panel power-opens, and a digital television receiver.

Among off-road specific features available at extra cost on most Discoveries are All Terrain Progress Control and Terrain Response 2. The former is an off-road cruise control, which will maintain very slow speeds – allowing you to set your speed in difficult going and just steer the vehicle. The second adds automation to the standard Terrain Response system: it seeks to gauge the driving conditions and automatically adjust the traction control and suspension (among other elements) to optimise progress.

In addition, you can specify a locking rear differential on almost any Discovery that has dual-range gearing.

Among other luxury and cosmetic options are heated rear seats (including the third row), four-zone climate control, additional 12V and USB power sockets, and (on the HSE Luxury) massaging front seats. On all versions but the Discovery S you can have an Activity key, which is a waterproof wristband that can unlock the vehicle, allowing you to secrete the usual key somewhere inside.

Among driver-assistance options are adaptive cruise control (which also extends the auto-braking to high speeds), lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. You can also order Advanced Tow Assist, which is an automatic parking system designed to work with a trailer.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Larger wheels have lower-profile tyres, which diminish ride quality on bumpy roads. Lower-profile tyres are also more vulnerable to damage and less effective off road. And generally, they cost more to replace.

Adding features like third-row seats or a sunroof adds weight, which reduces the load you can carry. The extra weight also diminishes performance and handling.

Third-row seats reduce the available luggage space.

Solid white is the only colour that doesn’t attract an additional cost.

How comfortable is the Discovery?

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It is a tall step up into a coil-sprung Discovery S, but less so if you option the height-adjustable air suspension that’s standard on every other Discovery. Once on board you’ll find a large and spacious cabin that offers a very comfortable and commanding driving position.

Compared with the previous generation Discovery the cabin isn’t as tall or as airy, however, and you feel more closed in. On the plus side, the lower roof reduces drag and improves fuel economy.

The general presentation is of subdued luxury, with lots of black interspersed with polished metal highlights. Simple, logically grouped switchgear and intuitive touchscreen controls make it easy to feel at home.

Where the previous Discovery was built on a heavy truck-style chassis, this new vehicle is based on the current Range Rover, using a much lighter one-piece body and chassis made mainly from aluminium. It is not a great deal heavier than most big luxury sedans, and you feel the reduced bulk immediately from behind the wheel.

All three diesel engines are very quiet, so much so that you may well mistake them for petrol engines. Even the least powerful engine provides effortless performance for city and urban driving, and has enough power for relaxed highway driving. The eight-speed automatic provides exceptionally smooth – indeed, all but undetectable – gear changes.

On most road surfaces the Discovery’s ride feels supple and absorbent, and there’s very little wind and road noise to detract from a very serene driving experience. Very little steering effort is needed, even at parking speeds.

What about safety in a Land Rover Discovery?

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Every Discovery has anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, seatbelt warnings for all seven seats, auto emergency braking, and lane departure warning. It is a comprehensive package aimed at helping you control the car, avoid a crash, and survive a crash, while reducing the risk that you will endanger bystanders when manoeuvring at low speeds.

The airbags are placed in front of, and alongside, the front occupants, and at head level down each side of the car. The side-curtain airbags extend far enough to protect passengers in the third seat-row from side impacts.

The Autonomous emergency braking uses a camera-type sensor to scan the roadway ahead, and can detect pedestrians as well as bigger obstacles. It warns you of hazards (typically a sharply slowing car), and will initiate an emergency stop if you do not react - at speeds up to about 80km/h.

The Discovery also monitors your position on the highway in relation to lane markings, and if you show signs of drifting into an adjacent lane – possibly from distraction – it will vibrate the steering wheel to attract your attention.

At extra cost you can add to any Discovery Adaptive cruise control and Lane keeping assistance. The Adaptive cruise brings an additional radar-based auto-braking system called Advanced Emergency Brake Assist, which works at highway speeds. The Lane keeping assistance augments the standard lane departure warning, attempting gently to steer the car out of trouble.

On any Discovery but the S you can add a suite of rear-facing driver aids also, namely a Blind spot monitor (with Closing vehicle sensing), and a rear cross-traffic alert. The former alerts you to adjacent vehicles near your rear corner that might not appear in your mirrors (also warning you if a car is closing fast from behind, perhaps in an overtaking attempt). The latter helps when you are reversing from a car park, telling you if another car is about to cross behind you.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Discovery five stars for safety, its maximum, in June 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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The Discovery is a very enjoyable car to drive, even if the least powerful engine, the Td4, does not provide spirited highway performance. A Discovery Td4 will get you effortlessly from A to B, but overtaking is more workmanlike than entertaining.

Driving appeal starts with the Discovery’s responsive, even agile, steering and handing. Compared with most other vehicles that offer as much off-road ability, it is as though you have got into a sports car.

The Discovery builds on this surprisingly sporty feel with luxury-car refinement. It is extremely quiet and extremely comfortable, even on poor roads.

Those wishing to enhance the experience will find the Discovery Sd4 and Td6 go much harder. These are brisk cars, even if they won’t match explicit – and more road-oriented – high performers such as Jeep’s V8 Grand Cherokee SRT or Land Rover’s own Range Rover Sport SVR.

The Discovery’s on-road finesse does not come at the expense of its formidable off-road ability. It is the complete package, very capable on road and off.

There are some prerequisites for rough off-road use, however. These start with dual-range gearing (implying an Sd4 or Td6 engine) and the height-adjustable air suspension.

On top of that you’ll need the optional self-locking rear differential, and wheels no bigger than the 19s that are standard on the Discovery S and SE (and can be fitted to other models). The 19s aren’t ideal for off-road use (18s or 17s would be better), but they are as good as you can get from Land Rover on a Discovery.

If you’re not after extreme off-road ability then even a Td4 Discovery S, with standard coil-spring suspension and single-range gearing, will cope with general 4WD use – unsealed roads, farm tracks, easy fire trails and even most beach and sand driving.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Second-row passengers, even tall adults, will be happy in the Discovery. There’s good headroom and plenty of leg room, thanks in part to the seat having 160mm of fore-aft adjustment. Three adults can fit quite comfortably, too.

The third-row seats are also very spacious. They can accommodate average-sized adults and are surprisingly easy to get into and out of.

Four ISOfix child-seat anchor points are also provided, two in outside positions of the second-row seat and two in the third row. The lower Access mode provided by the air suspension helps when lifting small children in and out.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Discovery is very good at carrying stuff. It is rated to carry very heavy payloads – not much short of popular dual-cab utes. Most Discoveries are also rated to tow 3500kg – a very big boat or caravan, or a loaded three-horse float.

Surprisingly, the Discovery is rated to carry and tow a bigger combined load than the best of the popular dual-cab utes.

Its body also has plenty of cargo room. With the second and third row seats folded it has more than 2400 litres of luggage capacity and a load length exceeding 1.9 meters – as long as a standard mattress. Even with the second row upright you get 1100 litres of space when the third-row is folded.

With all seven seats upright the luggage capacity is reduced to 258 litres, however – a fairly typical figure for big seven-seaters, and about the size of the boots in city hatchbacks.

The second-row seat folds 60-40 and the fore and aft adjustment can give more luggage space if second-row leg-space is not a priority.

Discovery HSEs have an interior tailgate to stop stuff falling out when you open the top-hinged single rear door. And if you option power-folding rear seats, there’s even a smartphone app available to pre-fold them if you have something big to carry in the car.

Where does Land Rover make the Discovery?

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All Discovery models are made in the UK.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A longer range for touring remote areas, from a much bigger fuel tank – as fitted to the Toyota LandCruiser 200 and Toyota Prado, for example.

A wide choice of tyres suitable for Outback touring and off-road driving, which you can get for most other 4WDs.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. This is standard on the Ford Everest and even the cheaper Holden Trailblazer, for example.

A CD player, as fitted to LandCruiser and Prado.

Other cars you might consider include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Nissan Patrol, and the Range Rover Sport.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The Discovery comes in a mind-boggling array of engine, trim and option configurations, but as an all-rounder the Discovery SE Sd4 looks the pick. The SE Sd4 comes standard with air suspension and dual-range gearing, which make it easier to live with and transform its off-road ability. It goes nearly as hard as the more expensive Td6, and brings significantly more equipment than the bare-bones S.

The SE Sd4 won’t suit everyone, especially those looking for the extra equipment of the HSE or HSE Luxury, or the heavy-duty towing power of the Td6 engine. At the bottom end of the price range, the Discovery S Td4 offers a lot of core vehicle for the money, even if it’s light on equipment.

Are there plans to update the Discovery soon?

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Going on the life cycles of previous Discoveries, don’t expect a new-generation car before 2023.

What will arrive before that – at a date to be confirmed – is a new generation six-cylinder diesel, which will be an inline engine rather than the V6 now available.

The new diesel straight-six will likely be offered in two variants, one with roughly the same power as the current Td6 and one with considerably more power and tagged Sd6.

In September 2017 at the Frankfurt motor show, Land Rover showed for the first time a supercharged V8 petrol Discovery named the Discovery SVX. Claiming extreme all-terrain capability for the SVX, Land Rover said the high-performance Discovery would arrive in Australia in the second half of 2018.