Land Rover Discovery SUV review
“The Land Rover Discovery is great to drive and really spacious but it’s quite expensive”
- 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 Land Rover Discovery is a large SUV that offers an incredible mix of ability; it’s a serious off-road vehicle when you need it to be, yet it’s also good to drive on-road, luxurious inside and very comfortable. All of that means it doesn’t come cheap but the Discovery is still a very versatile and appealing car.
Rivals include the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90, though none of these can match the Land Rover for off-road ability. Those models do have their own benefits, particularly when it comes to electrification (the XC90 and X5 plug-in hybrids are excellent).
The current Discovery has lost the recognisable, boxy looks of the previous version but the improvements to fuel economy, technology and handling mean it’s better than ever. In 2021, the Discovery was updated with some new lights and bumpers, plus a new ‘Pivi Pro’ infotainment system that was a pretty big improvement over the previous infotainment system.
There’s plenty of safety kit in the Discovery and a luxurious interior that includes seven seats. The sixth and seventh seats aren’t just an afterthought, like they are in some seven-seat SUVs, because you can actually fit adults in there, although tall people might find it slightly cramped.
The boot is big even with all seven seats in use and with the third row folded down there’s a huge amount of space for luggage. Despite its large size, the Discovery is also good to drive - it handles well on a twisty road but is also really comfortable and smooth on the motorway and over rough country roads.
The 3.0-litre D250 turbodiesel engine now offers enough power for the sizeable SUV, and improves its WLTP-rated fuel economy to a competitive 33.5mpg – although CO2 emissions from 220g/km mean it's still liable for the top 37% of Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax.
There isn’t a Discovery that’s sluggish; even the D250 diesel version manages a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds thanks to 246bhp.
Older V6 diesel engines have now been replaced with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder featuring mild-hybrid tech to help save fuel and reduce emissions. The D300 gets 297bhp and 650Nm of torque, and every Discovery is equipped with four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Two petrol engines are also available for the Discovery: the 2.0-litre P300 and the P360. The P300 produces 296bhp and is shared with the Jaguar F-Pace, propelling the Discovery from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. The P360 is a 3.0-litre engine with 355bhp, cutting its 0-62mph time to 6.5 seconds. These engines are quite thirsty, however, with official figures of just over 25mpg. It's unlikely a plug-in hybrid will arrive either because the space taken up by the battery would spell the end for the third row of seats.
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. It has been made firmer and more direct as part of the facelift, and while handling is sharper, there's been a reduction in comfort too. Meanwhile, its Terrain Response system and generous ground clearance give it serious off-road credentials.
The entry-level Discovery S includes an 11.4-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.
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 22nd-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.