2018 Land Rover Discovery is a Junior Range Rover

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In old Land Rover world, the Range Rover was the brand’s ultra-luxury ride while the Discovery was its down-market, all-capable sibling. While the Range Rover has moved even further upscale, the Discovery is now more of a junior Range Rover than a hard-core off-roader, though its off-road capability is still formidable. Stoke it with a diesel engine and it’s an innately capable luxury goat.

Compared to the LR4 the Discovery replaced, it looks less like a boulder-busting box and more like the very upscale all-roader it is. Up front, hood lettering over a mesh grille creates a familiar face accented by LED headlights. But, come around to the side. Look at the photos. See those little wheels? Yeah – they’re 21” alloys! That shows you the proportion of this thing in full flank. But, looks are deceiving because a new aluminum body structure is up to 1,000 pounds lighter than LR4, enabling more spirited performance and improved fuel economy.

Open those big doors and step inside to discover a cabin nearly equal to the full-luxe Range Rover. It starts with natural Shadow Oak veneer and rises from there. Intoxicating soft Windsor leather seats look suave in saddle leather. Front seats and the steering wheel are heated; second and third row seats can be power-deployed from the cargo compartment. Spoil yourself silly with the front massagers. Of course, the hatch is also powered. Quad-zone automatic climate control and dual pane sunroof keep everybody comfy.

There’s also a mountain of technology within. Up front, drivers enjoy a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, rear camera, front/rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers. The infotainment touchscreen could be easier to navigate, but 825 watts of sweet-sounding Meridian audio is not difficult to understand. Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist enhance safety.

To make the Discovery more interesting, we tried it with a diesel engine: A 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel making 254 horsepower and a stout 443 lb.-ft. of torque. Shifted through a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain delivers 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds and 21/26-MPG city/hwy. when driven gently. Choose our vehicle’s towing package to pull over 8,000 lbs.

Throttling the Discovery is about more than stomping power. Off road, the articulation of the air suspension, able to be raised for off-roading or lowered for entering, demonstrates purpose. A two-speed transfer case with locking center differential gets power to all four wheels without waste. Advanced hill descent control keeps it at a steady speed while a knob in the console adjusts the Terrain Response System for varying conditions like snow, mud, and hills. Driven deftly, there’s almost nowhere the Discovery can’t go.

A Land Rover is first and foremost a seriously-capable off-road machine. But, it is also luxurious. And, the new Discovery is definitely that – from its adjustable air suspension to its powerful diesel engine. But, this Land Rover is also beautiful, sleek, and loaded to the roof with luxury and technology. A base price of $52.090, or $81,395 as tested, puts it against the Audi Q7, BMW X5, GMC Yukon Denali, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

 

Storm Forward!

 

Watch Casey’s video review of the Land Rover Discovery; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.

 

2018 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Seven-passenger, 4WD SUV

Powertrain: 254hp 3.0-liter Turbo-diesel,

       8-speed auto trans

Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind

Wheels f/r: 21”/21” alloy

Brakes f/r: disc/disc

Must-have features: Luxury, Capability

0-60 mph: 7.7s

Fuel economy: 21/26 mpg city/hwy

Assembly: Solihull, U.K.

Base/as-tested price: $52,090/81,395

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