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2018 Land Rover Discovery Road Test and Review

Scott Oldham
by Scott Oldham
September 22, 2017
5 min. Reading Time
2018 Land Rover Discovery profile hero ・  Photo by Land Rover

2018 Land Rover Discovery profile hero ・ Photo by Land Rover

Building some of the most beautiful, capable and luxurious SUVs on the planet has made Britain’s Land Rover one of the hottest automotive brands in the United States. Why mess with success? Land Rover remains the only automotive luxury brand that sells SUVs exclusively, and it continues to expand its family-friendly lineup.

This is the 2018 Land Rover Discovery, or the Disco as the brand’s aficionados call it. All-new just last year, it’s a seven-passenger SUV that slots in the center of the Land Rover lineup just above the also all-new 2018 Range Rover Velar and below the Range Rover Sport. Now in its fifth generation, the Discovery competes against a long list of attractive, high-quality luxury SUVs such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Different Than the Discovery Sport

Although it’s easy to do so, don’t confuse the new Land Rover Discovery with the Discovery Sport. The two SUVs look alike and share the Discovery name, but that’s where the similarities end. The Discovery Sport is much smaller, has smaller engines and costs about $12,000 less than the Discovery.

Shoppers should also realize that the new Discovery has replaced the LR4 in the Land Rover lineup. The LR4’s predecessors wore the Discovery name, but Land Rover, for reasons long forgotten, renamed it LR3 and then LR4 along the way. However, the name change was limited to North America; in every other market around the globe, including the United Kingdom, the model remained the Discovery throughout its generations.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Available in Three Trim Levels

Built in Britain, the 2018 Land Rover Discovery is offered in three trim levels: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. Each is equipped with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is no hybrid or electric model, but a thrifty diesel engine is available.

Prices start at $50,990, including $995 for the destination fee, for the SE model, while the HSE costs about $6,000 more. An HSE Luxury like our test vehicle starts around $65,000. All Discovery trims come standard with a 340-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine and such luxuries as Bluetooth, navigation and a power tailgate. A more efficient 254-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 costs $2,000 more on the HSE and HSE Luxury, but it's not offered on the SE. 

The Discovery’s list of options and available packages is long and diverse, and the numbers add up fast. Our HSE Luxury test vehicle was packed with extras including a head-up display, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist, lane keep assist, a tow package and a rear seat entertainment system with two screens. All in, the truck cost $82,500.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Family-Friendly Interior

Sharing the same all-aluminum chassis of the full-size Range Rover and Range Rover Sport has its advantages. The 2018 Discovery gets the same generous 115-inch wheelbase as those models, and it provides plenty of interior space. The SE and HSE trim levels come standard with seating for five, but a third row is an available option; seven-passenger seating is standard on the HSE Luxury. There’s more rear seat space than you’ll find in many of the Discovery’s competitors and the third row is spacious enough for adults if the ride is short. Rear air conditioning vents are standard and onboard Wi-Fi is available.

Storage inside the Rover’s interior is plentiful. The center console bin is deep and air-conditioned to keep beverages cold; there’s a cleverly hidden felt-lined cubby behind the climate controls, and large bins on each door hold small items. The well-placed front seat cupholders are large and accommodate cups with handles.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Big Cargo Volume

Cargo space behind the Discovery’s third-row seat is extremely limited. Anything more than a few bags of groceries or a few school backpacks will reach its limits. However, cargo space behind the Land Rover’s second row is incredibly generous. The third row is split 50/50 and with it folded flat the Land Rover Discovery offers 45 cubic feet of space, considerably more than the 27.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat of the pricier Range Rover Sport. The second row is split 60/40, and it also folds flat opening up an impressive 82.7 cubic feet of space, which is also considerably more than the Range Rover Sport.

Our Costco runs were made even easier by our test vehicle’s power tailgate and its power folding second- and third-row seats. Plus the Discovery’s air suspension can lower the SUV to make loading heavy items easier on your back, and there’s a cool power-folding bench that provides a seat when the hatch is open. Clever.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Opulent Interior

Land Rover’s interiors have been a high selling point of the brand’s SUVs for years, and the new Land Rover Discovery is one of its best. Similar to the designs found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, the Discovery’s interior is simple, well-appointed and exceptionally modern. It’s also extremely comfortable with large, well-shaped seats with strong heaters and adjustable armrests. Nothing feels cheap or second-rate. Soft-touch materials are abundant, and all the knobs and switches function precisely. The large leather-wrapped steering wheel and knurled rotary shifter feel good in your hands, and the Rover’s muted aluminum trim looks rich.

Last year Land Rover improved its infotainment system, making it quicker to respond and easier to navigate. Thankfully it still uses an intuitive touchscreen, which remains ergonomically superior to other interfaces, and our test car had a conveniently large 10.2-inch unit.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Athletic and Easy to Drive

You sit tall in the 2018 Land Rover Discovery. Visibility is excellent thanks to the SUV’s slim pillars and large mirrors, and the view out over its leather-covered dashboard and long hood is not only commanding but also empowering. It makes you feel like you could drive this luxury suv through a horde of zombies and hardly even notice. For such a large, heavy SUV, the Land Rover is surprisingly athletic. Unlike its LR4 predecessor, the Discovery is agile and doesn’t feel overly tall or tipsy. And it’s easy to navigate around town, thanks to light steering and a tight turning circle, which also makes parking easier.

Since the two share their chassis and suspension, it’s no surprise the Discovery drives very much like a Range Rover Sport. The ride is pleasant but firm. You feel the road's surface through the large-diameter steering wheel, but larger road imperfections are soaked up nicely by the Rover’s off-road-ready long-travel air suspension. Our test vehicle wore optional 21-inch wheels, which looked cool but certainly didn’t help the SUV’s ride quality.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Good Power and Fuel Economy for the Class

There’s plenty of power from the Rover’s 340-hp supercharged V6 — which is also used in the Jaguar F-TYPE sports car — and the 8-speed automatic transmission is well geared and pleasingly responsive. It also has a sport setting for more immediate performance. 0-60 mph takes just 6.3 seconds.

The Discovery’s fuel economy is about average for this class. With the supercharged V6, it’s rated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. I averaged 20 mpg during a week of mixed driving. I continuously used the Rover’s start/stop feature, which shuts off the engine at red lights to save fuel. As expected, the optional 3.0-liter diesel is the more efficient choice, with ratings of 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. For comparison, BMW’s diesel-powered X5 is rated 23 mpg city and 30 mpg on the highway.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Serious Off-Road Skills

Should that zombie apocalypse come, the Land Rover Discovery is well equipped to get you through the chaos, trumping any of its rivals. With its height-adjustable air suspension in its highest setting to increase ground clearance, the Discovery can tackle obstacles you’d steer around altogether in other luxury suvs. Land Rover says the SUV can even ford though 3 feet of water.

Although we didn’t traverse any raging rivers or bushwhack through the jungles of Borneo, I did spend a few hours challenging the SUV at the local off-road park. The adjustable all-wheel-drive system offers four settings for different surfaces, and its traction control system got us through some deep sand and up and over some steep hills. To test the Rover’s generous wheel travel, steep approach and departure angles and 11.1-inches of ground clearance, I drove it up some rutted and rocky trail sections. The SUV didn’t break a sweat.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover

Unique Style

Although it looks similar to the smaller and less expensive Discovery Sport, Land Rover’s new Discovery is striking and distinctive within its class. Its black roof, sweeping C-pillar, and asymmetrical tailgate design are unique, and its shape not only fits well in the Land Rover lineup, but it also won’t look dated in a few years.

In the Land Rover tradition, the 2018 Discovery is far more capable off-road than its competitors from BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes. Plus, it’s larger and more family-friendly than the Range Rover Sport and just as luxurious. If you’re looking for a competent large luxury suv, the new Discovery is a solid overall choice.

 Photo by Land Rover

Photo by Land Rover


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