Long-Term Test Second Report: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury

    Second report: Modern problems

    Christian HazelPhotographer, Writer

    In any multipart series the sequel is often darker than the premiere. You probably have a life outside your parents’ basement, so hopefully the parallel isn’t lost on you, but think of Star Wars. The first one ends with the Death Star exploding, a medal ceremony, and hope springing eternal for the Resistance. Then along comes Return of the Jedi, and we’re tossed onto an emotional rollercoaster with Han Solo encased in carbonite, the death of Yoda, and Luke dangling from a space city by his one remaining hand. Bummer, dude. So, it’s in that spirit that we bring you the sequel to our first installment of our time behind the wheel of the ’18 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury.

    To be honest, some problems cropped up during the first test report phase, which we didn’t report because we hadn’t yet given the dealership a chance to address them. The infotainment system would intermittently lock up and wouldn’t allow us to change stations, adjust volume, or access any of the in-vehicle functions accessible through the touchscreen (map, HVAC, and so on). The problem always seemed to present itself while the satellite radio was on. It often took one to three full cold restarts in which the vehicle was shut down, allowed to sit for a period of several minutes to hours, and then restarted and driven before it reset and worked again. During this time of driving with no music masking the sound, we noted an audible creaking from the suspension bushings. The creaking was most noticeable when the vehicle dropped from ride height to entry height upon shutdown, but once we knew what we were listening for it was very evident that the noise was happening during normal in-town driving. Our local dealership attempted to fix the touchscreen glitch, check the suspension creaking, and see if there was a recalibration flash for the throttle tip-in characteristics we mentioned in our first installment. However, while the dealer was recalibrating the IMC module, which controls the touchscreen and all its features, the module failed and required replacing. The part took several weeks to come in, so the vehicle was in our dealership’s hands for a full month. When we got the vehicle back, the new IMC had been reflashed with the latest software, but our satellite radio subscription had expired, so we really can’t try to duplicate the problem as we noted it; however, we haven’t had any touchscreen system glitches for roughly 5,000 miles since the new IMC and software update. Unfortunately, the dealership said it was unable to duplicate the suspension groaning, so we’ve been living with the sound from underneath. Also, the throttle tip-in is still annoying to us—when you start from a stop and the vehicle barely wants to move, gets rolling very slowly, and then the supercharged V-6 hits like a hammer lurching you forward. It’s just hard to drive elegantly in regular stop-and-go traffic.

    Those issues aside, the Discovery has been serving as a family hauler, daily commuter, and weekend warrior, tackling one of its intended functions as a kid-hauler for this author’s four younglings. The ability to control the third-row seat functions from either the rear cargo area or the touchscreen dash is such a bonus. And one of the best features is the ability to drop the headrests of those seats not in use to gain rearward visibility. In terms of hauling cargo, the 50/50-split third-row seating is a lifesaver if you’re hauling six passengers, carrying a decent amount of luggage on long hauls, and taking a family of six on several weekend getaways. With both third-row seats up the cargo capacity is virtually nonexistent, however, so we’ve been wishing the Discovery came standard with some sort of roof rack system on which you could install one of the many rooftop cargo carriers on the market. Roof rails to accommodate them are available from the dealership for just under $600, but for a vehicle like this it would be nice to have them as standard.

    Unfortunately, our testing was cut short once again when the Discovery flatlined at a traffic light. The engine died, the vehicle went completely dark, and no attempt to resuscitate it proved successful. On the tow truck it went for another trip to our dealer’s service department, which checked the battery under a load test, the battery connections, and the battery cables. The battery on the Discovery is in the right rear of the vehicle, and while tracing the leads technicians found that the negative cable to the chassis wasn’t properly torqued from the factory and had come off. So, a simple fix, but one that was not readily apparent in the middle of a four-lane intersection with traffic whizzing by on all sides. Finally, our Discovery took a third trip to the dealership to address an intermittent “Traction Reduced” warning, which began showing up between the speedometer and tachometer with increasing frequency. The owner’s manual didn’t list this particular warning, and internet chatter on several Land Rover forums indicated it often portends transmission failure, so we dutifully brought it back to our dealership, who by now knew us by name. Once again, the solution promised to be a simple software update, which our dealership installed. As of this writing we’ve only had the vehicle back for a couple days, but in that time, we haven’t seen the Traction Reduced warning again.

    So that’s where we’ll leave you. The Discovery has dropped into the awaiting Millennium Falcon and has emerged with its bionic hand ready to meet the challenges of the third installment of our yearlong test series. We’ll put it back to work and will hopefully bring you a rosier report in a few months.

    Report: 2 of 4

    Previous reports: Dec. ’18
    Base price: $65,490
    Price as tested: $74,875
    Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronically controlled, two-speed

    Long-Term Numbers
    Miles to date: 14,082
    Miles since last report: 5,607
    Average mpg (this report): 14.83
    Test best tank (mpg): 18.4 (highway @ 65 mph, no traffic)
    Test worst tank (mpg): 11.41 (in town)

    Maintenance
    This period: Replace windshield, update InControl Touch Pro from 2.5 to 4.0, replace IMC module, check suspension noise, negative battery cable to chassis reinstalled and tightened, update transmission/traction control programming
    Problem areas: Throttle tip-in almost violent, door seals squeaking as chassis flexes, suspension bushings creaking and groaning, electrical system quirks

    What’s Hot, What’s Not
    Hot: Seat configuration and tailgate system very handy
    Not: Reliability disappointing this installment

    Logbook Quotes
    “The suspension is starting to sound like a bed in a cheap motel.”
    “This SUV is smooth. Feels like you’re traveling at a crawl—even at 80 mph.”

    Options as tested
    Vision Assist Package ($1,020): Auto High Beam Assist, Surround Camera System, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirrors. Drive Pro Package ($2,400): Driver Condition Monitor, Intelligent Speed Limiter & TSR, Adaptive Cruise with Queue Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Reverse Traffic Detection. 360 Parking Aid with Visual Display ($285). Advance Tow Assist ($410). Head-Up Display, Gen 2 ($970). Capability Plus Pack ($1,275): Twin-Speed Transfer Case, Terrain Response 2, Electric Air Suspension. Activity Key ($410). Trailer Hitch with Electric Connector ($665). Heated Windshield ($285). Cabin Air Ionization ($105). Loadspace Cover ($155). Black Contrast Roof (NCO). Full Length Black Roof Rails ($410).