Land Rover Discovery review
The fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery isn't cheap, but it's one of the best all-round family cars money can buy
The latest Land Rover Discovery is the most capable yet. It manages to blend the unrivalled off-road ability and toughness of the company's previous 4x4s with a considerably better on-road driving experience and greater efficiency.
The Disco is impressively refined, too, while its lighter weight and the addition of Land Rover’s twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine at the lower end of the range have made the seven-seat SUV available to a wider group of buyers looking for all its practicality and luxury with lower running costs.
Better still, the Discovery combines all this with the versatility you’d expect from an upmarket seven-seat 4x4. In fact, the Land Rover is almost unsurpassed when it comes to coping with everything from the school run to a fully loaded excursion up a mountain.
Granted, the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 are more adept in the bends, and the Land Rover's looks will divide opinion, but the Discovery is extremely comfortable. If you factor in some of the smart new technology on-board, the Discovery is a very capable package indeed.
The current Land Rover Discovery is the first to sport a rounded look. Buyers used to the square shape of the Discovery 3 and 4 were in for a shock when it was first revealed, but what remained intact was the spacious 7 seater interior that made those two models so popular.
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A hike in price has also failed to lessen the Discovery's appeal, although now that it starts at prices in excess of £47,000, it has moved will beyond the realms of the family SUV into the world of luxury 4x4s. It challenges other upmarket seven-seat 4x4s, such as the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, while some buyers might even consider the Range Rover Sport as an alternative if the Discovery's looks aren't appealing. The RRS has smaller third-row seats, while cars like the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE also offer this kind of seven-seat option, too.
A radical diet has helped the latest Discovery shed 480kg when compared to the last model. Extensive use of aluminium has helped this, and the weight reduction means that it's now viable for the Discovery to be powered by Land Rover's 2.0 Ingenium four-cylinder engines. It's still a heavy car, but at least these engines help keep fuel economy in check.
The engine line-up comprises a 296bhp 2.0 Si4 petrol, 237bhp 2.0 SD4 diesel and a 302bhp 3.0 SD6 V6 diesel. All cars are four-wheel drive with a transfer case and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Every model also features electronically controlled air-suspension and Land Rover's Terrain Response system that allows you to adjust the diffs, ride height and traction control to suit different grip conditions.
There are S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury models on offer. But while the S model has a £47,000 starting price, it's pretty poorly equipped when compared to the rest of the range. Unfortunately, that means you'll need to spend much more to get a decent spec. SE is around £6,500 more than S trim, while HSE is another £8,000 extra. At the top of the range, the high spec HSE Luxury with 3.0 SD6 diesel power is over £70,000.
Still, there aren't many full-size 4x4s that offer the kind of space the Discovery has to offer. The 7-seat layout has room for adults in every seat, while the car's off-road ability is second to none in the class, making this a practical and versatile family car that has the added appeal of being able to go anywhere.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery isn't cheap, but it's one of the best all-round family cars money can buy
- 2Engines, performance and driveFour-cylinder diesel offers a more efficient entry point to the Discovery line-up
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsFour-cylinder diesel gives Disco more competitive economy, but it still lags behind rivals
- 4Interior, design and technologyRange Rover levels of quality and refinement plus even more tech and practicality give the Discovery a winning edge
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceDisco’s interior is luxurious and cavernous, offering exactly what you want from a large, upmarket seven-seat SUV
- 6Reliability and SafetyA decent level of safety kit means all Discos should offer lots of protection for the family