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2018 Land Rover Discovery: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2017

Fresh from it rebirth last year, the 2018 Land Rover Discovery continues to win over converts who swore they'd never give up a body-on-frame SUV for one with a unit body. But, where this transition has terminated the off-road abilities of so many Lexus, Audi and BMW SUVs, the new Discovery suffers from no such affliction. The lightweight aluminum body retains all the traditional gear needed take this 3-row, 7-passenger vehicle anywhere a larger Range Rover can go. The design improves performance both on and off road, yet towing remains a respectable 8,200 pounds (7,716 with the diesel engine). Offered this year with a choice of diesel or gasoline engines, the Discovery expands its ability to attract new buyers, although there's no hybrid version as of yet.

The Discovery's styling is more in line with the Discovery Sport rather than the boxy Range Rover, but it works in this case, creating a sleek modern luxury SUV that stacks up well against competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.

What's New for 2018?

For 2018, the Land Rover Discovery's diesel engine option is now offered on all trims. New standard equipment includes a 10-inch InControl Touch Pro navigation system and automatic emergency braking. The HSE and HSE Luxury models offer an improved head-up display and come standard with a larger 12.3-in driver information display.

What We Like

Lightweight design improves safety and fuel economy; powerful gasoline engine; excellent off-road ability; roomy interior; lots of luxury features; competitively priced

What We Don't

Lower tow rating with diesel engine; infotainment interface can be confusing at times; bottom seat cushions could use more support and length

How Much?

$53,085-$87,000

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Discovery offers a choice of two engines. First up is the standard supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine good for 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic is standard, as is a 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system offered with a choice of two different transfer cases. Fuel economy figures are a rather dismal 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

Optional on the Discovery is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 good for a slightly lower 254 hp, but significantly greater 443 lb-ft of torque. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy figures for this engine are a respectable 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. Oddly, although it has more torque, the diesel engine's tow rating is about 500 pounds less than what the gasoline engine can tow.

Standard Features & Options

The Land Rover Discovery for 2018 is offered in three trims: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury.

The Discovery SE ($53,085) includes the 3.0-liter supercharged V6, 8-speed automatic transmission, 4WD with single speed transfer case, Hill Descent Control, start/stop technology, acoustic laminated windshield, slide and recline second-row seats, 10-in InControl Touch Pro navigation system and 10-speaker 250-watt sound system, 4G Wi-Fi, a hands-free power lift gate, 19-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, panoramic glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, a rear backup camera and leather seating with 12-way power front seats.

The Discovery HSE ($59,485) adds power-folding heated side mirrors, automatic LED headlights, 3-zone climate control, 10-inch touchscreen, power sunroof, InControl Pro navigation, 20-in alloy wheels, 10-speaker 380-watt Meridian sound system, keyless entry, powered inner tailgate, power adjustable steering column and memory for the power driver's seat.

The Discovery HSE Luxury ($66,485) a more advanced 4WD system with 2-speed transfer case, electronic air suspension, panoramic electric sunroof, Windsor leather seating, 16-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, power third-row seat with intelligent seat fold feature, 825-watt 14-speaker Meridian sound system, a heated steering wheel and configurable ambient lighting.

The diesel engine adds $2,000 to the bottom line. Options vary by trim and include the Drive Pro Package (Intelligent Emergency Braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, driver monitor and blind spot assist) the Cold Climate Package (heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel and heated washer nozzles) and the Remote Intelligent Seat Fold package. Other optional features bundled into packages include Terrain Response 2, electronic air suspension with 11 inches of possible ground clearance, surround camera, heated third-row seat, head-up display and a rear seat entertainment system. Notable standalone options include a 380-watt Meridian audio system (SE), power sunroof with fixed panoramic rear glass panel and 22-in wheels.

Safety

As one would expect, the Land Rover Discovery comes equipped with a healthy roster of standard safety features, including ABS, electronic traction and stability control, emergency braking with pedestrian detection plus a full set of airbags including front-side impact and side-curtain airbags. Optional safety equipment includes blind spot monitor, lane-keep assist and departure warning, driver monitor, speed limiter, park assist and a surround view monitor.

To date, neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2018 Land Rover Discovery.

Behind the Wheel

We drove hundreds of miles across southern Utah and northern Arizona in the Discovery, touring stunning Zion National Park and coming within miles of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Weather varied from dry and warm to cold and foggy, and our altitude changed by thousands of feet during the trek -- we thoroughly wrung the crossover out.

A double-wishbone suspension in the front is supplemented by an advanced multilink suspension design in the rear, which work as a cohesive team to deliver an impressively smooth ride. Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional air springs, which further enhance the ride quality. (They also allow the chassis to be raised and lowered to suit the terrain.)

Aerodynamics play an important role at highway speeds, both in terms of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort -- vehicles that don't cheat the wind are loud and susceptible to buffeting in crosswinds. The shape of the Discovery Series 5 blows its predecessor out of the water in terms of sleekness. Where the previous-gen Series 4 had a terrible coefficient of drag (its Cd was about .40), the new model boasts a Cd of .33 -- that's sedan territory. Occupants will note a near lack of wind noise and smoothness in heavy winds.

Luxurious on-road performance usually means compromised off-road capabilities, but not this time. In fact, we'd argue the new crossover is even better off road than on -- that's a distinguished accolade. In addition to impressive ground clearance (11.1 inches) and approach, departure and breakover angles (34, 30 and 27.5 degrees, respectively), the Discovery will wade through water nearly 3 ft deep -- which even humans have difficulty doing.

Terrain Response 2, a Land Rover technology accessed via a dial on the center console, configures the vehicle's systems for a variety of surfaces (grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl) with the twist of a wrist. And the automaker's All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) will automatically crawl over each obstacle, which allows the driver to focus on the path ahead.

We climbed the Land Rover Discovery over rocks so large that we shook our head in disbelief, we clawed over sand dunes that were several stories tall without slowing, and we traversed long dusty roads while pampered within its luxurious cabin. The Land Rover never bottomed out, never got stuck and it never allowed any natural impediment to stop its forward progress -- and, most impressively, it accomplished every task on stock all-season tires.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Volvo XC90 -- The XC90 isn't as expensive as the Discovery and it has a more dynamic appearance. The Volvo also offers more luxury features, like the second-row captain's chair seating with center console refrigerator. While the performance with the turbocharged 4-cylinder isn't as robust at the Discovery's V6, you can get a plug-in hybrid model that's both quick and efficient.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS -- The Mercedes-Benz GLS offers a bit more room inside and a lot more in the areas of engine options and performance, including a high-output AMG model. But the GLS can't tackle the same tough off-road obstacles as the Discovery, and it costs a lot more.

2018 Audi Q7 -- The Q7 3.0T costs a bit more than the Discovery, but what it lacks in off-road ability it makes up for with a decidedly more comfortable ride. The Q7 also affords you a more luxurious interior and excellent crash test scores.

Used Land Rover Range Rover Sport -- A 2012-2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport will give you more power and luxury features with the traditional look and build many Land Rover owners expect from this legendary British make.

Autotrader's Advice

For the money, we'd go with the HSE or HSE Luxury trims. Both trims come well-equipped and can be had with the diesel engine option, plus they allow you to pick and choose additional equipment. If you plan on doing serious off-roading, however, go with the optional Terrain Response 2 and electronic air suspension, both part of the Capability Plus Package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Land Rover Discovery: New Car Review - Autotrader