Land Rover Discovery 4 SUV
Price £39,990 - £64,790
- High-quality cabin
- Impressive luxury and comfort
- Go-anywhere ability
- Economy not great
- Motorway wind noise
- Huge – tricky to move and park in town
At a glance
"The Land Rover Discovery 4 is the firm's most luxurious car yet - but it remains extremely able off-road. The latest diesel engine is very quiet, and powerful too."
The Land Rover Discovery was a pioneering machine when it was originally launched in 1989. It was supposed to offer the go-anywhere ability of the Land Rover Defender, but in a road-friendly package that was much more refined at high speed.
Years on, the Discovery 4 SUV is still one of the best in class. In many ways it has expanded on the winning formula first seen on the old car, so the latest model is more luxurious inside, while it's much better to drive on road and, thanks to sophisticated electronics, just as good off it.
In some ways, though, the Discovery 4 is still an old school 4x4. It gets only one engine choice and, while the big diesel does an excellent job of moving the Land Rover, it's not very economical.
All models get decent levels of equipment, starting with the X, XS, HSE and finishing on the top-of-the-range HSE Luxury.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Heavy cars like this are always expensive to run
No matter how you look at it, the Discovery is not a cheap car to run. All models get the same 3.0-litre diesel engine , but it's hindered by the Discovery 4's sizeable bulk, meaning it can return just 35.3mpg. Not great when some rivals get close to 50mpg. No surprises then that C02 emissions are also high - at 213g/km, road tax will set you back £285 a year.
Interior & comfort
Comfortable seats and a spacious interior
Comfort is a Discovery 4 strong point. When cruising down roads the weight, which costs it so badly when it comes to economy, also gives it a comfortable ride even across the bumpiest roads. The Discovery also has a high seating position, which means you get an excellent view of the road.
The interior is of a quality to match some executive saloons, and even the rearmost bench in the seven-seater Discovery offers reasonable space.
Practicality & boot space
There’s loads of luggage space and seven seats
Keep all seven seats up and the Discovery 4 offers 280 litres of boot space, which jumps to 1,192 litres with the third row of seats folded down. Stow away all the back seats and you get a massive 2,558 litres to play with. Loading objects should be easy, too, and the Discovery can drop its height, while the lip-less boot means you can slide bulky items without a fuss. The tailgate also splits, so you can drop small items in quickly.
Space inside for five passengers is excellent, and even the third-row seat isn’t too bad. The Land Rover also gets plenty of cubbyholes including a big compartment between the front seats that is cooled by the car's air conditioning, as well as cup holders for all passengers.
Reliability & safety
Feels good quality but reliability is questionable
Land Rover has got a lot of stick for poor reliability in the past, but they may just have cracked it with the Discovery 4. In our 2013 Driver Power survey, which included 150 models, the Discovery came an excellent eighth. That same year, though, Land Rover finished 25th out of 32 firms in our manufacturers’ ratings.
The car was last tested for safety by Euro NCAP in 2006, when it got four stars. The latest model could well do better than that. One thing's for sure, with one star for pedestrian safety, you certainly don’t want to be run-over by a Discovery.
Engines, drive & performance
The Land Rover Discovery is great on or off the road
The Discovery 4's 3.0-litre diesel has plenty of power and gets the Land Rover from 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds. The lazy power of the engine combines with the Discovery's standard automatic gearbox and comfortable suspension, to make the big SUV a relaxing cruiser. The trade-off is that there is plenty of body lean if you try to take corners briskly.
The Discovery's excellent off-road ability (and poor fuel economy) is partly thanks to its sophisticated four-wheel-drive system, which means the Land Rover has plenty of grip. The car features Land Rover's Terrain Response system, which means the Discovery can be setup to deal with various off-road conditions.
Price, value for money & options
Expensive, but very versatile and luxurious
The Land Rover Discovery 4 is not a cheap car to buy or run but it does come with decent levels of standard equipment, including climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control, and big alloy wheels. Top-of-the-range HSE models get a premium stereo, sat-nav, Land Rover's Surround Camera System (which displays all angles of the car), and a high-grade leather interior.
The Discovery comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, which is starting to seem a little miserly when you consider some, less premium, manufacturers now offer seven-year protection. The warranty can be extended at extra cost.
What the others say
The materials used in the Discovery suggest that attention to detail has been paramount: it feels classy and solid. However, Land Rover's reliability record has been less than illustrious in recent years, and there are still big question marks over how this Disco will fare in the long term.
This Discovery marks a real step forward over the model it replaced. Huge improvements were made to quality and durability and it's packed with off-road technology designed to make it as good off-road as you'd expect of any Land Rover. It remains one of the best 4x4s around.
A recent facelift has done nothing to disguise the rugged Discovery's Tonka toy proportions. The nose gets new headlamps and grille, while at the rear you’ll find revised tail-lights. As ever, the big Brit looks just as at home in a farmer's field as it does outside a posh hotel. Buyers get the choice of three trim levels – GS, XS and HSE.
The Discovery is brilliant on- and off-road. The classy cabin has space for seven, plus superb versatility and excellent levels of refinement.