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2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2017

Not as large as the Range Rover Sport, the 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport expands the storied British SUV builder's line by creating a smaller luxury SUV on par with the Mercedes GLE, BMW X5 and Lexus RX. Though not as roomy as the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60, the Discovery Sport is still a capable compact luxury crossover, offering impressive levels of sophistication wrapped in a ruggedly handsome shell steeped in Land Rover DNA. Land Rover's Terrain Response system ensures that the Discovery Sport can keep up with its better-known siblings, granting it accesses to places where many luxury competitors dare not tread. Then again, Land Rover knows that the majority of Discovery Sport owners will rarely venture far from the paved path, which is why the British automaker has endowed the Discovery Sport with a smooth ride, two powerful yet fuel-efficient engine choices and impressive cornering and handling abilities.

What's New for 2018?

For 2018, the Discovery Sport gains two new 4-cylinder turbocharged engine options. Rated at 237 and 286 horsepower respectively, the two 2.0-liter gasoline engines improve the Discovery Sport's performance and fuel economy. New features for the Discovery Sport include standard 4-way power lumbar support, an available 12-way power driver's seat and the addition of adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring as standalone options.

What We Like

Rugged styling; reasonable base price; excellent off-roading ability; more passenger-friendly interior than the Evoque

What We Don't

Interior lacks the elegance of some competitors; tiny third-row seat option; no diesel, hybrid or V6 engine option

How Much?

$38,790-$55,000

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Discovery Sport offers a choice of two turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines. The standard engine is good for 237 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The optional version also displaces two liters but pumps up output to a robust 286 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a 9-speed automatic transmission. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates are yet to be determined for these new engines.

Standard Features & Options

In keeping with the rest of the Land Rover line, the 2018 Discovery Sport is offered in three distinct trims: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. The HSE and HSE Luxury offer the option of a high-output engine.

The SE ($38,790) includes the Terrain Response all-wheel-drive system, Terrain Progress Control, partial-leather seating, 8-way power driver's and passenger seats with 4-way power lumbar support, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off headlights, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a rear-parking aid, keyless entry with push-button starting, hill-descent control, a 10-speaker audio system with an 8-in touchscreen, InControl Remote & Protect and four USB charging ports (two in the front and two in the rear).

Some of the more noteworthy optional packages for the SE include the Cold Climate pack (heated front and rear seats, heated washer nozzles and a heated steering wheel), the Vision Assist pack (front fog lights and HID headlights), the Convenience pack (passive keyless access, a power-gesture tailgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror) and the Third-Row Seating package (5+2 seating with a rear-seat pass-through). Navigation, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and Wi-Fi are all standalone options.

The HSE ($43,390) adds a fixed panoramic glass moonroof, front and rear fog lights, HID headlights with LED surrounds, passive entry, front- and rear-parking sensors, a power-gesture rear lift gate, full-leather seating, 10-way power front seats and 19-in wheels.

An optional Audio Upgrade pack adds a 10-speaker Meridian audio system and HD Radio.

The HSE Luxury ($47,790) brings premium Windsor leather seating, adjustable cabin mood lighting, a 10-speaker, 380-watt Meridian audio system and InControl Touch navigation.

HSE trims offer upgraded versions of the Vision Assist and the Cold Climate packs, adding climate-controlled front and rear seats, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera, automatic high beams and adaptive headlights. The Driver Assist Plus packs adds autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning, while the Head-up Display and Park Assist package adds a color head-up display and parallel- and perpendicular-park assist.

Safety

The 2018 Discovery Sport is loaded with many advanced safety technologies, including front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, a driver's-knee airbag, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake lights and emergency-brake assist, corner brake control, dynamic stability control, roll-stability control, trailer-stability assist and Land Rover's hill-start assist and hill-descent control systems.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Behind the Wheel

We sent Editor-in-Chief Brian Moody to test the Discovery Sport in Iceland's most rugged and isolated terrain, and we summarized his thoughts after his first encounter with the Discovery Sport: Driving through the Icelandic countryside impressed upon Brian that the off-road ability of the new baby Discovery is something the company got exactly right. The Sport conquered deep snow, frozen roads and icy rivers with ease.

This newest Land Rover also includes the company's Terrain Response system, a driver-selectable program that monitors and adjusts such functions as wheel speed and vehicle position. Basically, you select the terrain setting, and the onboard systems do the rest, keeping you moving forward, straight and right side up. We've sampled this system before on a variety of vehicles in the California desert, the deep mud of the North Carolina woods and the snowdrifts of eastern Canada, and in each instance, the Terrain Response system did its job perfectly.

In fairness, we should add that the Discovery Sport was equipped with studded tires during the whole trip -- as are most cars on the road during wintertime in Iceland. Studded tires won't keep you from getting stuck, but they do provide an extra bit of traction that a Discovery Sport wouldn't be able to manage with traditional street tires.

The Discovery Sport's power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. While that may not sound too impressive, the engine makes 237 hp and has more than enough spunk to get you through an Icelandic winter and provide a little fun when the weather and roads dry out.

Our only complaint is that the engine can be noisy at times. However, the cabin remains fairly quiet, and the ride is very smooth, which is surprising considering that we were running on those metal-spiked tires the whole time. If this is how good the vehicle sounds on studded tires on ice, the average American driver will be very pleased.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Audi Q5 -- The Q5 offers a more luxurious interior and more-powerful engine options, but it also costs a few thousand dollars more than a comparably equipped Discovery Sport and doesn't offer a third-row seat option.

2018 Lexus NX -- The NX has a more distinctive exterior, better handling and more advanced audio and infotainment systems. We like its interior better, too. However, the NX cannot venture to the off-road destinations attainable in the Discovery Sport.

2018 Lincoln MKC -- The MKC offers a sleek exterior and a more elegant interior than the Discovery Sport, plus its standard engine bests the Discovery Sport's hp and fuel economy (with optional all-wheel drive). Like the Lexus NX, the MKC doesn't offer a third-row seat, but its front-drive layout permits a lower base price.

Used BMW X5 -- A 2012-2016 BMW X5 offers more room, more power and better handling, as well as better resale figures. You can find more upscale options on the X5, as well as a number of performance upgrades.

Autotrader's Advice

For the money, the SE with a few option packages will give you all the luxury you need in an off-road-capable luxury SUV. The HSE's fixed moonroof isn't a must-have, but the available driver-assist upgrades may be worth spending the extra cash for the upper-end trims.

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2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport: New Car Review - Autotrader