The name Land Rover Discovery conjures up images of the Camel Trophy and mustachioed men and rugged ladies driving through waist-deep mud. In 2005, Land Rover dropped the name Discovery in the U.S. market in favor of the nondescript LR3 moniker. That vehicle was sold around the world as a Discovery, though, and certainly retained the Discovery DNA with the distinctive boxy shape and bumped roof line to accommodate the third row of passengers.
Land Rover revived the name in the United States for the fifth iteration of the model, now a curvy SUV that matches the lines of the other vehicles in the Rover lineup but is visually unrecognizable from the original Discovery. We recently had the opportunity to find out of there is still some mud from the Camel Trophy stuck under the sheetmetal of the 2017 Land Rover Discovery.
The 2017 Discovery is jam-packed with luxury, sporting dual sunroofs, a 10-inch touchscreen, power rear folding seats, and so much more. The vehicle even has six 12V charging outlets and seven USB ports spread throughout the three rows of seating. We assume you are reading Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road to learn about the vehicle’s capabilities though, and we don’t want to disappoint you. Spoiler: The new Discovery is pretty darn capable.
While the original Discovery used solid axles and coil springs (at a time when Jeeps were still riding on leaf springs), the new model has independent suspension at both ends with air springs at each corner. This allows the suspension nearly 3 inches of user-controlled adjustment, for increased ground clearance off-road but a low step-in height and improved mileage and handling when the vehicle is lower to the ground. The Discovery can be set to automatically lower when the driver takes off his or her seatbelt, and again when the door is opened.
Power from either the 3.0L supercharged V-6 gas engine or the optional 3.0L turbodiesel V-6 engine is light years ahead of the original Discovery’s Buick-sourced aluminum V-8 in terms of power and efficiency. The diesel engine is only available on the HSE and higher trim packages (not the entry SE model) but is only a $2,000 option, making it a no-brainer in our book. With a combined EPA estimate of 23 mpg (versus 18 for the gas engine) and a wide, smooth powerband, we found no downsides to choosing the diesel engine. Given our experience behind the wheel of a 3.0L diesel–equipped Range Rover Sport, expect an easy 30 mpg on the highway.
The previously mentioned air suspension contributes to the surprisingly good fuel economy, as does the aluminum unibody construction that drops a whopping 1,000 pounds compared to the outgoing LR4. Rover has a long history of using aluminum, so the precedent here dates back even earlier than the Camel Trophy. Other efficiencies include electronic steering and a smooth eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that is used behind both engine options to keep them in the optimum power curve.
Behind the transmission, the two-speed transfer case is optional, so don’t accidently order a Discovery without one. The 2.93 low range provides a 51.5:1 crawl ratio when combined with the 4.7 First gear in the ZF tranny, allowing the Discovery to creep along anywhere the vehicle physically fits. The rear locking differential of the optional Terrain Response 2 system, the All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), and the Off-Road Cruise Control combine to allow the Discovery to move forward under nearly any conditions.
If we have a complaint with the new Discovery, it is with the amount of automation. This is more of a criticism of the auto industry as a whole, but adaptive cruise control, lane departure notification, park assist, and even the Discovery’s ability to back a trailer all seem to minimize the connection between the driver and the vehicle. Like the Off-Road Cruise Control, these systems are effective, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate them.
Detractors will undoubtedly claim that the Rover is overpriced and that the majority of them will never leave the pavement. Closer inspection of the pricing reveals that the 2017 Discovery starts at $49,990. Considering that the Chevy Tahoe starts at $47,215, we consider the Rover a bargain. As for a life of soccer fields and mall parking lots, that is out of our hands (and Land Rover’s). We can say with certainty, though, that if the owners of the new Discovery decide to take the road less travelled, they won’t get stuck along the way.
Land Rover Discovery StrengthsAffordable diesel engine
Terrain Response 2 system
Off-Road Cruise Control
Adjustable ride height
Excellent crawl ratio
Land Rover Discovery WeaknessesVulnerable rockers
Independent front and rear suspension
21-inch wheels with low-profile tires
Tech Specs2017 Land Rover Discovery
Base Price: $49,990
Price as Tested (HSE): $33,730
|Type||Supercharged V-6||Turbocharged V-6 Diesel, Optional|
|Bore & Stroke (mm)||84.5x89.0||84.0x90.0|
|Fuel Req. (octane)||Regular/87||ULSD|
|SAE Horsepower||340 @ 6,500 rpm||254 @ 3,750 rpm|
|SAE Torque (lb-ft)||332 @ 3,500-5,000 rpm||443 @ 1,750-2,250 rpm|
Type: 8-speed ZF auto
Ratios: First: 4.714:1; Second: 3.143:1; Third: 2.106:1; Fourth: 1.667:1; Fifth: 1.285:1;
Sixth: 1.00:1; Seventh: 0.839:1; Eight: 0.667:1; Reverse: 3.295:1
Type: 2-speed, full time with locking center differential
Low-Range Ratio: 2.93:1
Front Diff: Open
Rear Diff: Optional locking differential
Ratio: 3.73:1 (3.23:1 diesel)
Front: Independent with twin lower links and coil springs (air springs optional)
Rear: Independent with integrated links and coil springs (air springs optional)
Type: Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) rack and pinion
Turning Circle (ft): 40.4
Tires & Wheels
P275/45R21 Goodyear Eagles on 21-inch aluminum Dyna Vipers
Front: 14.17-inch ventilated disc
Rear: 13.78-inch ventilated disc
Curb Weight: 4,751 (4,916 diesel)
Tow Capacity: 8,201 (7,716 diesel)
Supercharged V-6: EPA est. 16 city, 21 hwy, 18 combined
Turbocharged V-6 Diesel: EPA est. 21 city, 26 hwy, 23 combined
Overall Width: 81.6
Overall Height: 73.5
Front/Rear Track: 66.5/66.3
Front Ground Clearance: 8.6 coil, 11.4 air