Land Rover Discovery SUV
Price £47,505 - £56,005
- Luxurious and comfortable
- Spacious interior
- Go-anywhere ability
- Noisy at high speeds
- Expensive to run
- Feels large manoeuvring in town
At a glance
“While it’s due for imminent replacement, the Land Rover Discovery continues to appeal thanks to the space, luxury and off-road ability it offers.”
While most manufacturers completely redesign and replace their cars every seven years or so, the Land Rover Discovery SUV has been in production since 2004. The current Discovery 4 was billed as a new model when it was launched in 2009, with a host of mechanical, reliability and interior improvements made over the model it replaced. Underneath though, the Discovery 4 used the same mechanical underpinnings as the Discovery 3.
Normally, a development process like that would raise alarm bells, but the Discovery is such a competent and capable car with such a wide range of abilities that after all these years it continues to have unique appeal. It's fair to say that the Discovery is no spring chicken and choosing one over a Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 is an unusual decision – but by no means an unjustifiable one.
True, the BMW and Porsche are better to drive and the Volvo and Audi have vastly superior interiors, yet none of these cars can match the Discovery when it comes to off-roading ability, thanks to its excellent four-wheel-drive and Terrain Response systems. The Discovery is able to transport a driver and six passengers in luxury over rougher ground than the competition can manage, so we still rate it highly, even as it nears the end of its time on sale.
You’ll have to put up with a high list price and running costs if you want one, though: as production of the Discovery 4 gears down, the only engine available is a 252bhp 3.0-litre diesel that returns just 36.7mpg and costs £295 a year to tax. Economy aside, it's an impressive performer: despite the car weighing over two-and-a-half tonnes, this engine is powerful enough to get it from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and makes it an excellent cruiser.
On normal roads, the Discovery's air suspension soaks up potholes and broken tarmac with ease. There's a fair amount of body lean in corners, but accurate steering makes it easy to position confidently. Driving in town takes a bit of getting used to due to the car's sheer size, but this is eased somewhat by excellent visibility.
There are two high-spec trim levels available: Graphite and Landmark. Both come with air suspension, a full leather interior, cruise control, climate control, parking sensors and a premium stereo by Meridian. The Landmark model gets upgraded leather, six extra speakers for the stereo, sat nav and a sunroof, although the £8,500 extra Land Rover asks for this seems excessive.
Inside, the dashboard looks a little old-fashioned when compared to those in the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, but it's well made and retains a sense of luxury. Five adults can sit comfortably, with generous leg and headroom, while the third-row seats can also accommodate adults in relative comfort.
With the rear seats in place, the 280-litre boot capacity is good for a seven-seater; fold them down and this grows to an enormous 1,124 litres. A split-folding tailgate and a low load lip mean access to the Discovery's boot is excellent.
As an overall ownership prospect, the Land Rover Discovery has a lot going for it. A 26th-place finish out of 150 cars in our 2016 Driver power customer satisfaction survey is impressive, with a second-place ranking for practicality being particularly noteworthy. A 108th-place rating for reliability is less impressive, however.
With regards to safety, the previous-generation Discovery 3 scored four out of five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP way back on 2006. Since then, Euro NCAP has toughened up its testing regime somewhat, but Land Rover has responded by adding extra safety equipment – such as a blind-spot monitoring system – to the Discovery.
The Land Rover Discovery has a powerful diesel engine, but it uses a lot of fuel
Extremely accomplished off-road, the Land Rover Discovery is also very comfortable on it
The Land Rover Discovery is a supremely comfortable cruiser
Loved by families, the Land Rover Discovery has seven seats, a big boot and excellent towing ability
Owners love the Land Rover Discovery, but question marks remain over its reliability