Long-Term Test Final Report: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury
Final report: Roving off into the sunset
We can't recall a time when we had a more love/hate relationship with a long-term test vehicle. Let's address the elephant in the room. This particular '18 Land Rover Discovery was not without problems. In fact, it spent several weeks of our evaluation time at the dealership for various issues.
But when it was working, it was working well. The Land Rover Discovery combined luxury amenities like comfortable front seats with built-in heat/air/massage, a very well-tuned sound system, and a panoramic roof, which brings the outdoor feeling inside, with zippy engine acceleration and superb off-road handling that was in direct contradiction to the on-road handling, which could at times feel wallowy and cumbersome. But put it on a dirt road, and it just stuck like glue, providing a level confidence that's hard to match in the world of seven-passenger SUVs these days. Bombing down desert washes or twisty mountain dirt roads, there was almost never any harsh bottoming or topping out of the suspension. It seems like an anachronistic compliment, but the Discovery's air suspension behaves more like a good ol' steel spring than a super-modern airbag system, which is almost always harsh and jarring.
The Discovery was equally at home on open highways, where its sleek aerodynamics, low-profile Goodyear tires, and super-smooth engine just loved to eat up the miles. Even on stretches of I-15 in Utah where the posted speed limit is 80 mph, it's easy to look down while cruising and discover (pun intended) you're inadvertently exceeding the legal limit. And with a best tank of 18.9 mpg (and with several other 18-plus mpg freeway tanks), it's nice to see all that footloose and fancy-free freeway velocity doesn't come at a huge fuel penalty. The one exception to the freeway economy was when we hitched a 2,500-pound trailer to the rear and towed it from Phoenix to SoCal, earning a pair of back-to-back worst mpg runs of 12.5 and 12.8 mpg.
The Discovery has seating for seven, but if you're planning on hauling anything larger than a couple boxes of Kleenex behind the third row, it's much easier to fold down one of the rear-most seats and pile in the suitcases. A standard airline carry-on suitcase does technically fit between the tailgate and third-row seat, but as Austin Power's nemesis in Goldmember would say, it's toight. We looked into putting our old Yakima roof rails on the Disco for an impromptu trip, but discovered (there's that pun again) the super low-profile, partially submerged roof rails require a clamp-type rail mount that, at the time of our testing, wasn't fully supported by most aftermarket rack companies. The dealer had them, but they were back-ordered, so we never played with rooftop toys.
One of the questions we always ask ourselves at the end of these yearlong evals is: Would we buy this for ourselves? And in recent years, the answer hasn't been quite so cloudy. On the one hand, the Discovery definitely delivers on a few fronts that are most important to us, namely off-road performance, spirited acceleration, ample power, and acceptable fuel economy. On the other hand, this particular test vehicle has had a host of issues you really shouldn't have to deal with if you've plunked down almost $75,000. At the end of the day, the '18 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury with the Si6 supercharged V-6 won our 2018 Four Wheeler of the Year award cleanly and fairly. However, it lost by only a slim margin in empirical numbers to the 3.0L Td6 diesel Discovery, which was also in our test that year. And sitting here now, we can't help but wonder if we would have had fewer gripes with the Td6 diesel Discovery despite it losing several points to the Si6. But, we test what wins. And even taking the low points into consideration, if you're looking for a luxury seven-seat SUV that can honestly tackle any on-road weather condition with poise and confidence, and that won't leave you disappointed off-road, then it's hard to do better than the 2018 Four Wheeler of the Year, the Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury Si6.
Report: 4 of 4
Previous reports: Dec. '18, Mar. '19, June '19
Base price: $65,490
Price as tested: $74,875
Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronically controlled, two-speed
Miles to date: 30,088
Miles since last report: 9,820
Average mpg (this report): 16.7
Test best tank (mpg): 18.9 (highway @ 65 mph, no traffic)
Test worst tank (mpg): 12.5 (highway @ 65 mph towing 2,500 lb)
This period: N/A
Problem areas: (unchanged from last installment) Throttle tip-in still inelegant—lags then hits hard; door seals squeaking as chassis flexes; continued infotainment freezing and interface quirks; coolant low warning lamp
What's Hot, What's Not
Hot: Super-stable dirt-road grip
Not: Squeaking, glitching, and quirking intensifying
"Rear seat ingress is borderline medieval torture for a fullsize adult. "
"Why does the infotainment system freeze up so much?"
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).