2017 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury Review

A masterful replacement for the LR4 finally arrives


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Strong supercharged V6 power, more than manageable handling abilities, a head-turning body, handsome and easily configurable interior, capacious storage room, properly optioned it can tow 8,201 pounds.
Negatives: Steeply angled front door frame edge can hit you if you're not paying attention, no ventilated seats, can get painfully expensive when optioned out.
Bottom Line: Land Rover has built a luxury SUV that's perhaps its biggest departure from tradition in a long time. It's not only stylish and luxurious. It's also crafted to be even better on road than any of its predecessors, while still keeping with Land Rover's tradition of being like a wheeled mountain goat when you go way off pavement.
It looks like Land Rover got serious about building an LR4 replacement that's truly 21st century. Though the LR4 was seriously impressive as an off-road vehicle, it didn't exactly wow when it came to everyday practicality and style. The Discovery aims to change all that with the first true workover in a while, adding totally fresh styling, more robust technology and what's promised to be substantially improved on-road manners. We drove the new Discovery in HSE Luxury trim to see if Land Rover hit the nail on the head with this new vehicle.
 

Driving Experience

8.7

 

In HSE Luxury trim, the Discovery gets a potent supercharged V6 good for 340 horsepower that moves the big SUV pretty quickly but not overwhelmingly. Its on road manners are excellent, and the Terrain Response 2 system provides far more serious off-road chops than most of the Discovery's owners will ever capitalize on.

Ride Quality: We found that the Discovery does an excellent job of balancing firmness with comfort, and it absorbed bumps without being mushy on the road. The Electronic Air Suspension changes ride height as needed, too.

Acceleration: The Discovery's 340 horses move the vehicle well, hitting 60 mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds. It's not blazing fast, but it feels quicker than it is, and it doesn't appear to let up.. We liked the smoothness of the 8-speed automatic's shifting, and throttle response was good in the gas model.

Braking: The Discovery is a heavy car (4,916 lbs), but the brakes work well. The pedal is progressive, and there are no dead spots or mushiness.

Steering: For a vehicle in this segment, the Discovery's Electronic Power Assisted Steering is pretty sharp and on center. It's a good vehicle for long trips since you don't have to adjust much to stay in your lane.

Handling: The height of the Discovery is noticeable in turns, but it manages to keep things in check well. It's not for nailing apexes, but it holds its own by not feeling like you're getting tossed around.

Technology

8.2

 

Land Rover has come a long way with the look, feel and operation of their tech, especially the infotainment system. What's more, the supporting connectivity and power actually feel well thought out for all occupants since it has nine USB and six 12-volt power outlets to make everyone in the family device happy. Our model also came with the Activity Key, a wristband you can use to open the vehicle instead of using the key fob. Is it necessary? No. Is it cool? Absolutely.

Infotainment System: The 10” HD touchscreen found in HSE and HSE Luxury models is visually attractive, pretty easy to use, and way better than its predecssor. It stayed visible in bright sunlight and responded to touch fairly quickly.

Controls: We wouldn't say the execution is perfect, but it's way better than before. Some touchscreen controls are buried too deep, but the system is still very easy to use. We had some issues with the seat heater controls staying in "on" mode. The climate control knob/display combo is excellent.

Bluetooth Pairing: No issues when pairing our iPhone, and the pairing never broke throughout our review.

Voice Call Quality: Solid call quality with no transmission issues to speak of.

Styling

9.4

 

The LR3 and LR4 certainly captured the rugged Land Rover ethos well, but they were boxy, anything but modern, and the styling was getting a bit long-in-the-tooth. The new Discovery ushers in not only a better on-road driving experience but also a truly modern design that stands out in the luxury SUV crowd.

Front: The fascia looks menacing thanks to the Complete Dynamic Design Package that comes with black mesh grille that sports the outline of the Land Rover logo and plenty of matching black trim in the lower grille and intakes. Even the Discovery lettering on the hood is black, as are the side mirrors. It's a good look that beats even the Range Rover Sport in terms of slickness.

Rear: We're not quite sure why Land Rover went with an asymmetric rear, with an offset license plate holder, but it's interesting. The overall treatment of the back end makes the Discovery look overly thick, unfortunately.

Profile: It's the Discovery's best angle, eschewing the disproportionately tall greenhouse of its Range Rover family and the old LRs. The stepped roof keeps with Discovery tradition, and the blackened treatment of the side glass matches nicely with the bottom trim pieces.

Cabin: The white contrasting trim on the beautiful ribbed seats adds an air of sophistication, and the dash and doors are clean and handsome. The Complete Dynamic Design Package adds some nice touches like dark brushed metal, ebony headliner, sport pedals, and bright finish paddle shifters. It's a very nice cabin that's right for the feel of this vehicle.

Comfort

9.3

 

The Discovery is more than just a pretty face. It can actually hold seven adults, and the second row can move 6.3 inches forward for easy access to the third row. You can even use the Intelligent Seat Fold function from inside or by using your smartphone via the InControl app, a nifty trick, as well as fold the headrests from the front touchscreen for improved visibility. The air suspension drops 1.6 inches for easier ingress/egress and loading/unloading.

Front Seats: Excellent adjustability and comfort with solid bolstering and the right amount of cushioning. Not only do these seats look better than any Land Rover has made, they're perfect for long trips.

Rear Seats: There's plenty of legroom and headroom, and the seats themselves are far better than most other SUVs,

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Discovery feels vault solid, and we didn't notice any errant noises or vibration in the cabin.

Visibility: Seating position is good, but the rear visibility is compromised by thick pillars. The 360 degree camera comes in handy.

Climate: The system is easy to use and works well, but were were a bit miffed that a vehicle of this price and caliber doesn't even have cooled seats as options.

Safety

6.5

 

The Discovery hasn't been crash tested yet by either the IIHS or the NHTSA, but it does house a host of good standard and optional safety features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control with Off-Road ABS Hill Launch Assist, Roll Stability Control, emergency brake assist, Trailer Stability Assist

Optional Tech: Our test vehicle didn't come with a Monroney sticker to outline the details, but we're pretty sure our tester came with all the goods, including the Vision Assist package (adaptive headlights, LED running lights, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system and auto-dimming exterior mirrors); the Drive package (blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a drowsy driver warning system, a speed limiter and a traffic sign reader); and the Drive Pro package (includes the Drive package plus adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and lane departure intervention).

Storage/Cargo

9

 

Land Rover didn't sacrifice practicality for style. It has both in spades, and the interior of the Discovery is very well thought out. There are plenty of spaces for your gear, and the rear of the vehicle can swallow more than you'd imagine. This thing is ready for whatever you can toss inside. Just don't mark up the stunning digs.

Storage Space: Storage solutions are well executed here, including a deep center armrest with a cooler, nifty sliding cupholder door and a hideaway storage compartment behidn the HVAC controls.

Cargo Room: The Discovery is truly huge inside, and the load floor is very flat. With the seats in place, there's a capable 45 cubic feet of storage. When folded flat, it nets a whopping 82.7, more than enough for all your material goods.

Fuel Economy

8.5

 

We expected much worse gas mileage from the Discovery, frankly. It's heavy, has significant power, and encourages a heavy foot based on its engine note. We did far better than we thought we would, and our driving occurred mostly at lower speeds of under 50 mph.

Observed: 24.1 mpg

Distance Driven: 210 miles

Driving Factors: We drove the Discovery mostly in suburban settings with some time on the highway.

Audio

9.2

 

The HSE Luxury gets a 14-speaker Meridian premium surround-sound system standard, and it's an excellent one. We cranked up the tunes streaming from our smartphone, and the sound was crisp, clear and full. It's a great system that befits this level of Land Rover.



Final Thoughts

The Discovery is a masterful execution of the Land Rover brand because it infuses the vehicle with fresh style, power, class-leading room, improved technology and some nifty operational toys that appeal to the younger set. We didn't get a chance to drive it off road, but we've had seat time in bad conditions with their other models, and we expect the Discovery to be just as good, if not better when it comes to off-road prowess. Inside, the Discovery will suit a large family and keep them comfortable and connected wherever you go, and the driving dynamics won't put the driver to sleep, unlike so many crossovers and SUVs these days. This model gives us hope that Land Rover is more than ready to take their vehicles to the next level.
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