2017 Land Rover Discovery review: worthy of the iconic name

Now in its fifth generation, Land Rover’s iconic Discovery shifts further upmarket, but retains its incredible practicality, utility and mighty off-road ability. Few will scratch the surface of what it’s truly capable of, but for families wanting a vastly spacious, easy to live with, full-sized, seven-seat SUV then the Land Rover Discovery is a hugely compelling option. A future-proofed one, too, as Land Rover has loaded its family-hauling favourite with technology, connectivity and enough USB and 12-volt sockets to power any family’s needs.
Did you know? Land Rover claims the new Discovery is the most capable car off-road it has ever built – yes, even better than the legendary Defender.

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Land Rover took its proven seven-seat Discovery formula and brought it bang up to date with an all-new look, masses of space, unrivalled off-road ability, and the sort of connectivity and functionality owners in this marketplace now expect. A fine, comfortable and capable drive, it’s a shame that the downsized, big-selling 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine is bettered on economy and emissions by some rivals’ more powerful V6 alternatives. Ignore that though and the Discovery is difficult to fault as a complete family vehicle, with ability beyond what you could ever conceivably need, and space in reserve. It’s not cheap, though.

Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Sharp looks
Genuine seven-seater
Incredible, unrivalled off-road ability
We Don’t Like
The 2.0-litre turbodiesel isn’t as efficient as you’d hope
Infotainment system fiddly and slow
Premium look inside, though not always premium feeling materials

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Tough gig redesigning the Land Rover Discovery for 2017, as the outgoing Discovery shape was a familiar, much-loved one, with its chiselled, boxy stance emphasising its famous utility and plentiful space. The fifth Discovery takes a slightly different trail, with the designer’s set-square in the bin, allowing the car to present a softer, smoother look to the world.
It’s still vast, though the bonnet, headlights and grille aren’t so upright, the edges curvaceous, all to the benefit of aerodynamics – and hence economy. Land Rover isn’t daft, though, leaving enough Discovery cues in the current car’s style to continue the familial theme: there’s a hint of a stepped roof, as well as similar surfacing to the old car down its expansive flanks and the clamshell bonnet.
Unsurprisingly, there’s more than a nod to its Discovery Sport little brother in terms of appearance, as well as a hint of its Range Rover relations. That is deliberate, as the Discovery is very much in the premium sphere price-wise.
Overall it’s successful, but the need to be able to carry seven adults in comfort does lead to a rather rear-heavy design, and not everyone will like the weirdly offset number plate on the (now single piece) tailgate. Option packs like the Black Pack and privacy glass improve the looks, as do large alloy wheel choices over the standard 19-inch rims, though there’s a trade-off in ride comfort if you do succumb to the temptation of those bigger wheels.

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Space has never been a problem for the Discovery, even if previously it was at the expense of an upmarket driving environment. The new Discovery addresses that, with the cabin now finished to a standard befitting its premium billing and price positioning. It all looks neat, and very similar to the Range Rover in its style, though it’s not all good news, as start prodding the plastics in the lower sections of the cabin and you can see where Land Rover has saved a bit of money. If impeccable, super tactile materials are your thing you’ll be better served in an Audi Q7.

Where the Discovery has traditionally over-delivered is with space and comfort, and that’s certainly true here. The cabin is absolutely gargantuan, featuring Land Rover’s usual ‘Command’ driving position and ‘stadium’ rear seats that give every one of the five pews in the back a view out front, making it a brilliant family car. All passenger seats can be folded (and, indeed, heated), while four rear seats feature ISOFIX, as does the front passenger seat. The middle row seats fold and slide for access, and tumbling all of them to the floor (possible via your smartphone if you option Land Rover’s apps) gives a vast loadspace that’ll better the Audi Q7’s. On top of that, the Land Rover’s boot aperture is a more convenient squared-off shape than the Audi’s – although that sloped rear bootlid shape does mean that the rear window now cuts into overall space, where the old Discovery had a more practical, upright tailgate.

Put people in those seats and they’re accommodating for adults, even the third row, though do so and you’ll struggle to get much more than a golf bag in the boot behind them. Access to that boot is via a single-piece tailgate, and there’s a fold down flap that not only holds your luggage in place, but will take 300kg of weight if you want to sit on it. As air suspension is standard on UK cars it’s possible to lower the rear to aid access to its massive boot, ease sitting on that tailgate flap, or simply give your Labrador a less challenging leap into the back.
Elsewhere around the interior clever storage abounds, with plentiful cubby stowage; the centre console can swallow iPads and the like, there’s the option for a refrigerated box between the front seats to cool drinks, and the Discovery can have as many as nine USB ports and four 12v sockets littered about its expansive cabin depending on how you specify it.

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Technology & Connectivity
All those charging points might come in useful as the Discovery is loaded with technology. There’s the option of a 3G WIFI hotspot inside, allowing up to eight devices to connect, while Land Rover’s optional InControl Touch Pro services connects to your smartphone via apps and allows you to pre-heat the cabin, beep and flash the lights in a car park, send destinations to the satnav and even configure those five rear seats remotely. That remote seat folding is currently a party trick no rival can match, and the seats contain sensors to avoid them inadvertently crushing anything you might have mistakenly left on them.
The touch-screen system covers everything from audio equipment to seat operation, Bluetooth phone connection, heating and ventilation, navigation and more besides. Its control is a bit clunky compared to the best of its competition, though , as it lacks the cool, iPad-like operation and screen orientation of Volvo’s XC90, for example, and needs patience to learn its quirks. All models have DAB as standard, though the Meridian audio (from HSE upwards) lacks the punch or crispness of Volvo’s upmarket stereo, or Audi’s optional, premium audio.
Choose the clever, and cool, optional Activity Key wristband if you like outdoor pursuits. It allows you to leave the actual key locked (and disabled) in the car itself, opening (and locking) the car simply requiring you to touch the wristband to the D of ‘Discovery’ on the rear hatch.

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Performance & Handling
Land Rover sensibly focuses on comfort and refinement in the Discovery rather than any sporting pretentions on road. It’s agile enough to ensure it’s an easy drive, rather than an engaging, involving one, but that’s rather the point. There’s a bit of roll in the bends, but it’s not unwelcome, and the standard air suspension manages to achieve, for the most part, a fine balance between comfort and control. Only sharp ridges are felt in the interior, which is exacerbated if you’ve opted for the larger wheel and tyre options available. Our test car had 21in wheels fitted and suffered a notably restless ride comfort over typical UK town roads, so we’d definitely suggest you avoid those, good as they look.
Off-road it’s absolutely unstoppable, and its complex off-road hardware is easily operated with the simple push button, twist knob Terrain Response system; no buyer is ever likely to even get near its capability off the tarmac.
Extensive use of aluminium in the Discovery’s structure has allowed Land Rover to shift as much as 450kg over the previous model, though it is still weighty, being comfortably over two tonnes. Even so, the entry-level, and likely best-selling engine is now a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbodiesel badged SD4, with 240hp and 368lb ft of torque. If that doesn’t sound like enough then there’s a 3.0-litre V6 TD6 turbodiesel with 258hp and 442lb ft and a supercharged V6 petrol with 340hp and 331lb ft.
The real world gains on the road with the V6 TD6 aren’t so noticeable to make it essential, it only shaving 0.3 seconds from the SD4’s eight-second 0-62mph time, while its low-rev refinement actually isn’t as impressive as the four-cylinder’s.
The 2.0-litre SD4 is quick enough to satisfy even in faster motorway stuff, and it’s also reasonably quiet, although if you rev it hard to deliver everything then refinement suffers. Much of the smoothness and ease of this relatively low power unit is attributable to the slick-shifting, standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.0-litre supercharged petrol version won’t sell in big numbers in the UK, thanks largely to its punishing fuel consumption, but neither does it sound good, which, given it’s the same engine effectively that sister company Jaguar uses in its performance models, is rather surprising. A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol will join the Discovery range next year, as will a hardcore, V8 ‘SVX’ model that’s a product of the company’s SVR special division and looks it’s come straight off an action-adventure film set. We’ll update this review with more info when we’ve driven these models.
Recommended engine: 2.0 SD4
0-62 MPH
8.0 seconds
Fuel economy
43.5 mpg

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Four ISOFIX mounts underline the Discovery’s family friendliness in S guise, while SE and above gain a further one on the front passenger seat, so if you’ve a lot of small children to ferry around, the Discovery is well worth a look. All models come with safety kit like Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning, and Euro NCAP awarded it the full five stars in its crash tests.
There are front, side and curtain airbags in all and a Driver Monitoring system is included from HSE upwards – or available as part of an option pack that includes Lane Keeping Assist and a Blind Spot Monitor. Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard equipment across the entire range. The only glaring omission is that there’s no driver’s knee airbag, which seems particularly strange given that it’s standard fit on plenty of cheaper cars these days, including family hatches such as the VW Golf.

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Spec & Trim Levels

Seventeen standard colours are offered, though solid Fuji White is the only no-cost option. Scotia Grey, Kaikoura Stone, Montalcino Red, Yulong White, Santorini Black, Corris Grey, Indus Silver, Loire Blue, Aintree Green, and Firenze Red make up the metallic paint selection. You can double the paint cost by going for Premium Metallic, with the choices being Namib Orange, Waitomo Grey, Farallon Black, Carpathian Grey, Silicon Silver, and Aruba. That’s before you even consider having a contrasting roof panel, though, should you wish, Land Rover will be able to paint it any colour you want if you’re prepared to pay for it.
Trim Levels
Land Rover’s familiar S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury trim walk is offered in the Discovery, with the addition at launch of 600 examples of the Launch Edition. That Launch Edition is only offered with the TD6 engine and it adds 22-inch wheels, premium metallic paint, climate controlled rear seats, and some otherwise individually optional styling enhancements, as well as All Terrain Progress Control to the already extensive standard equipment of the HSE Luxury. S is only available with the 2.0 SD4 engine.
All come with air suspension and seven seats, a powered tailgate, cruise control, and heated mirrors. S features cloth seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, InControl Touch touchscreen with DAB radio, a heated, acoustic laminated windscreen, and door puddle lights. To that SE adds LED headlights, front fog lights, leather, interior mood lighting, and an additional ISOFIX child seat mount to the front passenger seat. SE cars also benefit from satellite navigation, heated front seats, automatic headlamps, and front and rear parking sensors.
HSE takes the wheel size up from 19- to 20-inches, adds improved leather on 16-way electrically powered seats, a fixed panoramic roof, heated rear seats, keyless entry, blind spot monitoring and InControl Touch Pro with app services, a rear view camera, improved SSD satellite navigation, and Meridian premium audio.
To that, HSE Luxury brings even bigger alloy wheels of 21-inch diameter, more leather trim, an opening sunroof, climate front seats, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, rear seat entertainment, and a surround camera system. SE will be enough for most buyers unless you’re sold on the connectivity and style upgrades that HSE brings as standard. Pick SE and you’ll have enough in the pot to cherry pick a few options like keyless entry to add to convenience, without having to stretch to the HSE pricing.

Size and Dimensions
It’s big, but then you know that, as it’s the reason you’ll buy it. Nearly five metres long, it’s worth investing in parking sensors.
4,970 mm
2,000 mm
1,846 mm
Max towing weight without brake
Up to 3,500kg (braked)

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Fuel Economy
This is a premium, large SUV, with running costs to match. The best economy comes with the SD4 engine, though its quoted 43.5mpg figure is unlikely in real-world driving – expect 35mpg on a good day. Likewise, the 171g/km of the four-cylinder isn’t as impressive as some rivals’ more powerful V6 alternatives, including the Audi Q7 that’ll likely be the other car on the Discovery buyer’s shortlist.
Avoid the petrol option unless you want to pour your money into your local petrol-station’s till, and while the V6 TD6 might promise a combined economy figure just shy of 40mpg, in reality it’ll be late 20s unless you’re extremely sensible.
Reliability and servicing
No data as yet as the Discovery is so new, but its predecessor actually topped reliability ratings in JD Power surveys despite there being a lingering reputation for bad electric glitches and air suspension issues in a lot of JLR products. We’ll have to wait and see how the Discovery 5 does, but of course it gets a three year, 60,000 mile warranty for peace of mind.
Petrol models
Every 21,000 miles
Diesel models
Every 16,000 miles

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You’ll not pay less than lb43,500 for a Discovery, and in reality you’ll likely be adding at least lb10,000 to that for the one you really want. Go the whole hog and be one of the 600 First Edition buyers and you’ll drop just shy of lb70,000. This is a Land Rover, remember, not a Range Rover. It’s not particularly cheap then, even by comparison to rivals like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 but neither will you find any vehicle at any price point that offers the huge breadth of ability it comes with.

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Large Families
SD4 SE upwards has five ISOFIX mounting points among its seven seats
Tech Junky
SD4 HSE Lux has connectivity aplenty, as well as app-controlled seats.
Luxury Seeker
First Edition adds even more luxury over the already decadent HSE Lux.
Audi Q7
Smarter interior, but not as spacious or capable, though engines stronger and cleaner.
On road it’ll trump the Discovery, off it the Land Rover will romp away.
Mercedes-Benz GLS
Has seven seats; Range Rover rather than Discovery money, though.
Volkswagen Tiguan
Understated, fine family SUV, but nowhere near as spacious or capable.
Volvo XC90
The Discovery’s closest real rival is classier inside, yet not as spacious
Check out:
2017 Volvo XC90 Review
2017 Audi Q7 Review
2017 BMW X5 Review


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