Land Rover Discovery SUV review
“The Land Rover Discovery is a premium SUV offering lots of space, ability and surprising fuel-economy, but it doesn’t come cheap”
- Entry-level engine has plenty of poke
- Comfortable and relaxing to drive
- Can seat seven adults in comfort
- Some extras should be standard
- Gets expensive above base trim
- Higher CO2 emissions than rivals
The latest Land Rover Discovery replaced a model that was around for 14 years and proved a big hit with customers. Versatilite, practical and with a luxurious interior, the Discovery was also renowned for its towing and off-roading abilities. Those selling points never faded, but against the newest versions of the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90, its technology and running costs were looking rather outclassed.
The new Discovery incorporates the virtues of the old model but features improved fuel economy, updated technology, and it now weighs less. As a result, it has gone on to feature in several of our Best lists. It’s still a seven-seater, with an unmistakable design and the ability to take you over almost any terrain, but it should use much less fuel and is brimming with the latest safety kit.
Third-row passengers will find their knees no longer rub on the seat in front, unless they're very tall, and there’s more headroom, too. Even when all seven seats are in use, there's still as much boot space as a typical family hatchback, and when the third row is folded out of use, the boot outclasses that of most estate cars.
With a more car-like structure than its predecessor, the latest Discovery is a staggering 450kg lighter. This means a compact 2.0-litre Sd4 turbodiesel engine now offers enough power for the sizeable SUV, and improves its WLTP-rated fuel economy to a competitive 32.4mpg – although CO2 emissions from 229g/km mean it's still liable for the top 37% of Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax.
No Discovery is sluggish – even the 2.0-litre Sd4 diesel version manages a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds thanks to its 237bhp.
In 2018, the 302bhp 3.0-litre Sd6 V6 diesel engine was launched as a replacement for the now discontinued 254bhp Td6 unit. The extra muscle offered by the Sd6 engine is noticeable when you’re towing or fully laden, too, managing 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds.
A single petrol engine is also available for the Discovery, the 2.0-litre Si4 unit. This engine produces 296bhp and is shared with the Jaguar F-Pace propelling the Discovery from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds.
While the latest Discovery is rather more agile than its lumbering predecessor, there’s no escaping its height of nearly two metres, so you’ll experience a fair bit of body lean if you try hustling it through corners. However, this is something you’ll be used to if you’ve driven many large SUVs. Meanwhile, its Terrain Response system and generous ground clearance give it serious off-road credentials.
The entry-level Discovery S includes an eight-inch touchscreen, seven seats, air suspension and a ‘powered inner tailgate’, which gives you somewhere to sit when out and about and largely makes up for the absence of a split-folding tailgate. This entry-level model undercuts most rivals and all Discoveries have seven seats as standard – BMW X5 buyers are charged extra for a third row. You have to upgrade to SE trim if you want leather seats, though, and this bumps the Discovery’s price up by a whopping £6,000.
After Euro NCAP crash-testing, the Discovery was awarded the maximum five stars, while autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning are standard. Land Rover's showing in our annual Driver Power customer satisfaction survey is less encouraging, where its 20th-place finish out of 30 manufacturers can only be seen as a disappointment. Still, the Discovery remains a fairly new model so should be given a fair chance to prove itself before any judgements are made.
Overall, the Discovery is a very desirable family SUV. Only its slightly contentious styling blots the Discovery’s report card – the front three-quarter view has a strong Range Rover resemblance, but the strangely offset number plate and imposing bulk of its rear end isn’t universally admired.