This may surprise some of our followers, but this is officially the first Land Rover we have had the opportunity to test. And this is great news for our team and our followers, as we can now add this brand into the battle beside the other major SUV and off-road brands we currently review.
The Discovery comes in three levels, the SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. And within each of these spec levels, you have the option of petrol or diesel. What surprised me was that each level, regardless of the engine option, were the same price – petrol or diesel.
The Discovery SE is available from $114,900, the HSE is available from $126,900 and the HSE Luxury is available at $136,900. The range of options seems endless, so if you’re really keen, go and check out the Land Rover website. I will cover the engines, and the spec of the model we are testing.
The two engine specs available for the SE, HSE and HSE Luxury are the 3.0L supercharged V6 petrol and the 3.0L turbo V6 diesel engines. Both are paired with a 4WD drivetrain and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The petrol puts out 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque while the diesel puts out 190kW and 600Nm. The petrol has a combined fuel rating of 10.9 and the diesel 7.5.
The HSE model we tested has an impressive array of standard features. To name a few, 12 Way Grained Leather Memory Seats, 3 Zone Climate Control, Heated Windscreen & Washer Jets, Active Speed Limiter, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Power Assisted Steering, Meridian 380W Sound System, Powered Tailgate, Electronic Air Suspension, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Front Axle Open Differential, Gradient Acceleration Control, Hill Descent Control with Off-Road ABS, Keyless Entry & Keyless Start, Roll Stability Control, Terrain Response 2™, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Trailer Stability Assist which requires an official Land Rover tow bar and 20″ 5 Split-Spoke wheels in Sparkle Silver. Yes, that’s a lot, and we didn’t even cover everything.
For some reason I always thought of the Discovery as one of Land Rover’s smaller SUV’s, maybe this is because of the Range Rover products which always seem to be much larger, in both presence and status. But the Discovery is no small SUV at all, it’s massive when you stand beside it and it gets even bigger when you climb aboard. From the front it’s very modern looking, taking a lot of styling cues from the popular Evoque. The middle has smoother lines than the previous model, and the back is sort of rounded…… and that’s really all I can or want to say about the back.
The change from the second to third generation of the Discovery is quite a big one. You can see the evolution from the first gen first released in 1989, to the second gen in 2004. But the jump from there to gen 3 is a big one. It’s been getting mixed reactions from a lot of people – some really like the new modern look, but others say that it’s going away from the rough tough off-road look the previous models had.
For me, I like the look, the front three-quarters of the car anyway, nice lines and shapes that all complement each other. But once you get to the back, you get the feeling that the designers just lost interest. Maybe their minds were off thinking about the new Velar.
The one thing that I don’t really understand what Land Rover has done, is to create the Discovery Sport and the Discovery. The Discovery is bigger and has the bump in the roof. While the sport is a bit more streamlined and shorter, while not being an Evoque. So it sits somewhere in the middle. Personally, I think they had a chance to change it up a bit, and make something different, instead of shrinking the Discovery to make a 5 seater version. But that’s just me.
I have been inside a lot of cars and to date, only a handful of them have made me OMG when I sat inside them. The last vehicle to do this was the Volvo XC90. The inside of this Discovery is a really nice place to be. Right away you feel the space and notice again how big this vehicle is. The driver’s seat is very nice, really comfy and supportive. It took no time at all to become comfy and ready to trek all over New Zealand. And the same could be said about all the other seats – no complaints from any of the passengers. From up here, you had a great commanding view of the environment around you, which would be a blessing when off-roading.
Most of the controls around the cabin are as described, however, the functions on the steering wheel were not as ergonomic as I would have liked. When you thought the direction on the toggles would do one thing, it did something else. I am sure I would get used to this with time. I think I would have preferred a scroll wheel than the direction toggle setup they have.
For storage space, this vehicle is king. I have never been in an SUV that has achieved so much with the same space every other vehicle already seems to have. My main every day live-with bugbear is that most vehicles these days choose to have a fancy centre console over a practical one. Most have a hatch for one or two cups and maybe another area where your phone or wallet won’t fit. Not this Discovery; it sits high above all of these inferior vehicles, mainly due to the 4×4 system that got it to the top of the hill. And it just laughs at their efforts. The Discovery has bucket loads of space, which you can see here in a quick video I posted on Facebook – Video Link. But for those who can’t check that out, let me run through what options you have from the driver’s seat. You have the normal centre console armrest and storage under it, it’s huge, about the depth of my wrist to my elbow. On front of that and besides the gear selector and terrain modes you have a sliding cover the reveals two cup holders. Nice I thought, but not as nice as the storage space under the cup holder as you slide them away, another huge space. You then have the glove box, decent size, and there is a second glove box, above the trim level for even more stuff.
And that’s not all, there is more, and this one is my favourite. In the centre console, under the display, there are the control dials for aircon, fan speeds and heated seats. Click the open button on the side and this folds down to reveal yet another space to hold stuff. So cool, and all of these spaces were huge, letting you fit all sort of things, phones, sunnies, etc in there. The other nice thing about the storage space behind the control dials was that when it was open, the controls were available on the touch screen display. Nice touch Land Rover.
In the back is spacious too, and even in the very back row, the seats are great. They look just like the other seats, which is great. They are heated too; each and every seat in the Discovery is heated. Once you move from the front to the second or third row or even the boot, you notice that everything is electric. Moving rear seats forward and back, or tilting them up or down, all electric. To raise the third row of seats, electric, and to lower the second row of seats, you guessed it, electric as well. About the only thing that wasn’t controlled by a button was the operation required to get in and out of the third row, where you had to pull the seat forward. This is not an issue, but unexpected considering every other system seemed to be powered.
The boot is pretty epic too when the third row is down you have 1137 litres of space, and with the second row down, this more than doubles to 2406 litres. It’s so much space, that it makes you wonder how it even fits on the road. The tailgate (also electric) has a tailgate plinth, unsurprisingly electric. It’s a handy feature, to stop stuff falling out the back and something which was used to sit on from time to time during the time we had it.
The last thing you can do from back here is raising and lower the air suspension of the rear of the vehicle. Making it easier to get stuff in and out of it, depending on the gradient of the ground you’re on. One final thing with the rear door; if you’re tall like me you will notice how the corners of the door curve down into a very sharp point. I was lucky enough not to hit my head on this during the test, as it was just below head height for me. But if you do, you will be left with a bit of an injury, as those corners are very sharp.
Where to start; once inside and after starting the engine, you notice the vehicle begin to rise. The air suspension is moving into one of its three different height settings. When off, it sits at its lowest, which is 40mm lower than normal driving height. And if you want to switch to off-road, the vehicle will lift 40mm above the normal drive height giving you increased ground clearance and approach angles. The two weeks we had the Land Rover had been filled with torrential rain and slips all around Wellington. So we made a judgement call and said we would come back and test its off-road capability another time. Even though Land Rover has the reputation for dealing with some of the toughest situations, it’s not worth the risk this time around due to dangerous conditions. We were just as disappointed about this as you are.
When you are in the normal driving mode, you can’t help but feel like you are king of the world, sitting up here on your throne. It’s a really great and somewhat commanding position, which gives you impressive visibility all around the vehicle. This gives you great confidence around the city, as the Discovery is a big unit. But I never found myself concerned about its size, even in tight car parks, finding it very easy to navigate around in. On the open road, the Discovery is like a cloud. And to be honest, it’s a lot smoother than I expected it to be. This will be due to the air suspension and 2-ton weight of the vehicle, which helps to smooth and dampen out any upset in the road ahead. Steering is very light at all speeds and makes you quickly forget how big the Discovery is. Sometimes I would forget, and then when seated the same height with a light truck driver, it would hit me again. This thing is a beast.
Power was also a welcome surprise. The 3.0L twin turbo V6 diesel creates 190kw of power and 600Nm of torque. And you can’t help but love all that torque, as it really lifts this vehicle up and pushes it so well down the road. And the sounds from the engine is great too, much more like a smooth V6 petrol from inside of the cabin. The market has plenty of SUV’s, many have engines that are too small, and some have engines that are too impractical, but awesome. The Discovery had a really great balance, of the right amount of power for the vehicle’s character. Enough to get you going without any lag, but not enough for you to ruin the luxury experience of driving a Discovery. The efficiency of the engine was higher than expected, this diesel was advertised at 7.5L per 100km. But no matter how reserved I drove, I was unable to get it under 10L per 100km.
The two noticeably disappointing features were the radar cruise control and the auto high beam headlights. Let’s start with the lights, as it’s quick to explain. At this level or vehicle grade, Mercedes and BMW have set the bar when it comes to fancy auto high beam lights. They come on, at night, full high beam, and they are able to adjust when vehicles are oncoming so as not to blind those drivers. Well, Land Rover obviously have not tested any of these, because their lights just go high beam when there is no other traffic, and normal when there is. And based on the rest of the vehicles, I expected more from them than that. Thankfully this seems to have been addressed with the new Range Rover Velar, so it will filter down to the Land Rover range soon enough.
Now onto the cruise control; if I was disappointed with the lights, I was distraught with this feature. It does not stand up beside the Germans at all. Back in 2013, I tested the Honda Accord V6 NT Sport, and it had the same problems this Discovery seems to have now. If you’re driving in a straight line, it’s great, it does what you expect of it. But it all falls apart when you come to a curve in the road. One of two things happens, either the vehicle thinks the cars on the other side of the road are about to get in your way, and it starts to slow. Or if you’re on a dual carriageway, and there are cars in the lane next to you, it thinks they are in front of you and it will match their speed, even if the road ahead is clear. It was very annoying, and I and Fred both found that it was just not worth using on long trips.
We did not get a chance to test the towing features of the vehicle due to the missing tow bar. But never the less, this vehicle would have hauled most things in its stride. I recently towed a race car from Tauranga to Wellington, and if I had the Discovery, I imagine it would have been bliss.
What it’s up against
The luxury end of the SUV market does not have the multiple choice that mid range market does, but it’s not an easy field to be in either. In terms of its off-road ability, there is nothing else out there that can match it like for like, apart from another Land Rover, or maybe a Jeep. However, as a luxury SUV, I would say Volvo puts up a pretty good battle and has many global awards to back that reputation.
Luxury Diesel 7 Seater SUV’s
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power Kw/Nm||Fuel L/100km Combined||Boot Capacity Litres||Price Highest to Lowest|
|BMW X5 xDrive30d||TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder in-line diesel||190 / 560||5.9||650 / 1870||$132,350|
|Audi Q7 200kw Quattro||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||200 / 600||5.9||770 / 1995||$131,400|
|Land Rover Discovery HSE||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||190 / 600||7.5||1137 / 2406||$126,900|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||184 / 570||7.5||782 / 1554||$106,990|
|Volvo XC90||2.0 I4 common-rail twin-turbodiesel||177 / 480||5.7||1102 / 1951||$104,900|
What do we think?
We have driven most of the competition, except the Audi, as we can’t seem to get one. And in my mind, the only vehicle that comes close to holding a candle to the Discovery is the Volvo XC90. And the only reason I put it above the Discovery, is that you get a true off road SUV with the Land Rover, the Volvo is still very much a soft roader.
Overall I really liked driving it around, you felt big, tough and safe in it. And it’s as practical as an SUV can get, more storage than you know what to do with, and that’s great. There are a lot of toys, some might even say too many. But the quality and the value is totally visible, which is not something you can always say.
It’s got a 3.5 ton towing capacity too, and the ability to take it almost anywhere. Even though it has a few quirks, the Land Rover Discovery has visible value and extreme practicality, making it a tough contender to beat.
I can’t help be left with the thought of that rear end, and how unfinished it was, really lets the overall design down.
Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5
2017 Land Rover Discovery HSE TDV6
|Vehicle Type||4WD large 7-seat SUV|
|Engine||3.0L V6 turbo diesel|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic transmission|
|Kerb Weight||2298 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4970 x 2220 x 1893 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||1137 litres/2406 litres|
|Fuel Tank||54 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.5 L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 10.5 L / 100km
|Warranty||New Vehicle Limited Warranty of 3 years|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Stars|