TFL was fortunate enough to be at the global press launch for the all-new Discovery held in southern Utah last February, but it wasn’t until now that we got ahold of a Disco here in Colorado. Of course, this means we took it straight to Gold Mine Hill.
The all-new Land Rover Discovery, which finally went on sale in June, looks a lot different from its harder-edged predecessor, the Discovery LR4. This model has softer, rounded edges taken from the Range Rover Sport and global bestseller Discovery Sport. There’s also leather seating for seven adults and a bevy of creature comforts inside. But don’t be fooled by the new, easy-going design: once this Disco hits dirt, or sand, or snow, or mud…it’s still an off-road beast, just likes its predecessors.
Land Rover loaded the Discovery with their entire toolbox of off-road equipment and tech, but there are three key tools that make this Disco and off-roading beast. First, its all-aluminum frame and aluminum body panels dropped 1,000 pounds in weight over last year’s model and a 50/50 fore/aft weight distribution. The diet and balance equals a more nimble rig.
Then Land Rover spec’d its adjustable air-suspension, which can jack the Discovery’s ground-clearance to a max of 11 inches and a wading depth of almost 3 feet. Last, dropping the transmission into 4WD Low and switching on All-Terrain Progress Control leaves the driver with no need to modulate speed or braking up, over, and through the sphincter-tightening terrain. It’s like cruise control for rock crawling: the computer-controlled center differential lock constantly calculates tire speeds and traction works and modulates the SUV’s torque bias function to route up to 100 percent of the power between the front and rear axles and can direct most of it to either the right or left tire as needed (nice if one wheel is buried in sand, snow, or somehow airborne).
Buyers in the U.S. can choose between a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 or a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6. Both are connected to an 8-speed transmission. The gasoline option pumps out 340-horsepower and 332-lb. ft of torque. For a full-size SUV, it’s plenty fast, clocking 0-60 in less than 7 seconds. Fuel economy is, well, just okay compared to other SUV’s in the category: 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.
Anyone who tows boats, Airstreams, horse trailers or puts tens of thousands of miles on a vehicle each year , should consider the diesel. Its 443-lb. feet of torque can pull slightly more than 8,200 pounds. By comparison, a 25-foot long Airstream weighs roughly 5,500 pounds. And when not pulling anything, the diesel Disco’ can notch around 23 mpg combined (21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy).
And about towing: Land Rover’s long heritage among the horsey set means that towing capability and features are always baked into any vehicle. The new Discovery ups Land Rover’s game with the ability to use the rear camera to guide the hitch to the trailer. Then you can use the air suspension to drop the rear of the vehicle by 2.4 inches so the hitch ball can easily slide under a coupling. Then raise it up and you’re done. Backing into a campsite or put-in? A reverse trailering system on the dash screen lets you identify and set the spot you want to back into, using the rear camera. Once set, you let go of the steering wheel and let the vehicle do the work of guiding you in.
Comfort & Convenience
The 2017 Discovery is actually shorter than the outgoing model, but you wouldn’t know it from the inside. That’s because the switch to aluminum frame materials allowed Land Rover to shrink the size of the frame and lighten weight, which allowed them to use a smaller engine (there’s no longer a V8 offered). That means the inside is cavernous (and means the Discovery carries a full-size spare tire). The heated 2nd and 3rd row seats can be configured 21 different ways at the push of several buttons in the rear cargo area, on the dash screen, or even a smartphone app. Folding the rear two rows of seats flat opens up almost 82.7 cu. feet of unobstructed cargo space six feet deep.
The power rear lift hatch can be activated with a wave of your foot under the rear bumper—no need to drop your gear. And if you’re surfing or doing something else water-based, you can grab the waterproof activity key out of the hidden storage compartment behind the dash, strap it to your wrist (it looks like a fitness tracker), and lock your valuables inside the vehicle. When you want to get back in, all you need to do is wave the key outside the rear hatch and it’ll pop open.
The Discovery features 9 USB ports and 6 12-volt charging ports scattered throughout the cabin. Buyers who opt for the WiFi hotspot service that turns the Land Rover into a giant cellular antenna that puts any smartphone’s range to shame. That way, users can stream video from their phones or tablets into the optional HD video screens on the seat backs.
TFLCAR’s TAKE: Even with its all aluminum frame and body, more powerful and efficient engines, and more space inside, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery’s base model, the gas-powered SE comes in $910 less than last year’s base model LR4 at $49,990. The mighty turbo diesel is only $2,000 more and worth it. Going diesel opens up a bigger world of opportunity to, ahem, discover.