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2021 Land Rover Discovery: First Look


The 2021 Land Rover Discovery continues the SUV tradition of Land Rover, but now with new design elements, features, and technology, plus the luxury and off-road capability of the upscale Range Rover line. A modern chassis, revised gasoline hybrid engines join the mix for this new 2021 model year, while the diesel engine offered last year is discontinued. The Discovery still offers seating for seven people, though the third row is tighter than the second. While there’s no shortage of competitors, the 2021 Land Rover Discovery blends luxury and practicality with outstanding off-roading ability.

What’s New 2021?

The new Discovery receives a bit of a facelift with new bodywork, headlights, grille and lower valance up front, and new taillights and rear bumper out back. Inside, a new center console and dash house a new standard “Pivi Pro” infotainment system with greater processing speed and power, and a larger, brighter 11.4-inch HD touchscreen, and can also be updated with new software over the air. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were made standard last year, but the Discovery now has nine USB chargepoints and 4G Wi-Fi that can support up to eight devices. The old rotary shift selector is gone, replaced by a more conventional shift lever, and second-row seats have been redesigned for thigh support, cushion thickness and cushion angle.

Mechanically, the two engine choices are completely new, including a newly-standard turbocharged 296 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and an optional mild-hybrid 355 hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six. A diesel engine option has been discontinued. New Discovery models equipped with the optional 355 hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 can also tow a respectable 8,200 pounds, while the newly-standard turbocharged 296 hp four-cylinder engine is rated for 6,613 pounds of towing capacity.

This 3-row, 7-passenger luxury SUV isn’t the largest or roomiest in its class, but it’s certainly one of the most capable SUVs on the planet. Unlike most rival SUVs from Audi, BMW and Volvo, the Land Rover Discovery is a true off-roader capable of tackling rugged terrain, muddy fields and traversing deep water. See the 2021 Land Rover Discovery models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Freshened design
  • Powerful six-cylinder engine
  • Excellent off-road ability with standard 4-wheel drive
  • Roomy, high-end interior
  • Flexible seating configurations

What We Don’t

  • Lower tow rating with 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Spotty reliability record

How Much?

$53,900 – $68,900

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy ratings are not yet available.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery comes in four trims: 2.0-liter S, 2.0-liter S R-Dynamic, 3.0-liter S R-Dynamic and 3.0-liter HSE R-Dynamic. Externally, the S models wear the standard bodywork with updated lights and bumpers. Meanwhile, all R-Dynamic models receive gloss black treatment for the lower door trim, fender openings, wheels, roof and front grille.

The design updates make the Discovery’s styling a bit more sporty, with new headlights, taillights and bumpers front and rear, plus more subtle updates to the side trim on the front fenders. It isn’t as brash or defining as the larger Range Rover or Range Rover Sport, but it makes for a very sleek, handsome modern luxury SUV that stacks up well against competitors such as the Audi Q7, Lincoln Aviator and Volvo XC90, though the Lexus GX460 competes well in off-roading ability and also performs smoothly in town, even if it’s no sporty driver.

Starting with the Discovery 2.0 S ($53,900) powered by the 296 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, it comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission, 4WD, automatic LED headlights, automated high beams, Hill Descent Control when off-roading, engine start/stop function when stationary, a new 11.4-in. infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, an 8-speaker 180-watt sound system with satellite radio, leather seating with 14-way power front seats, 4G Wi-Fi, 20-in. silver alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, and a full suite of driver-assistance aids including and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree parking aid.

The Discovery 2.0 S R-Dynamic ($56,400) comes equipped with 20-in. gloss black wheels, two-tone leather front seats with contrasted stitching and aluminum interior trim.

Centered around the bigger engine, the Discovery 3.0 S R-Dynamic ($61,900) adds the 355 hp turbocharged inline-6, plus a 2-speed transfer case for better low-speed off-roading to that feature and package set.

The Discovery 3.0 HSE R-Dynamic ($68,900) also adds a 2-speed transfer case for better low-speed off-roading, plus 22-in. alloy wheels, premium LED headlights, power raising and lowering for the third-row seats, electrically reclining second-row seats, two-tone Windsor leather seating, 20-way power front seats with heating and cooling, a 700-watt Meridian sound system with 15 speakers, a gesture-controlled power tailgate and configurable ambient interior lighting.

Safety

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

To date, neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2021 Land Rover Discovery.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Volvo XC90
The XC90 isn’t as expensive as the Discovery, and it has a more dynamic appearance. The Volvo also offers a couple more luxury features, like the second-row captain’s chairs seating. While the performance with Volvo’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine isn’t as robust as the Discovery’s optional six-cylinder, Volvo offers a plug-in hybrid version.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS – The Mercedes-Benz GLS is roomier and offers more 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.

2021 Audi Q7 – The Q7 costs a bit more than the Discovery, but what it lacks in off-road capability it makes up for with a more car-like ride when on-road. The Q7 also affords you a more luxurious interior and excellent crash-test scores.

2017-2020 Land Rover Discovery – The current Discovery generation debuted in 2017 with a name change from Land Rover “LR4” to “Discovery.” It also debuted lighter aluminum construction, a more fluid looking overall design and V6 engines replacing V8s.

Autotrader’s Advice

Autotrader has not yet road-tested the 2021 Land Rover Discovery. But if the 2020 model on which it is largely based is a good judge, all versions will drive quite similarly, though the new 3.0 R-Dynamic and 3.0 HSE R-Dynamic editions with their six-cylinder engines will likely feel quicker, thanks to their improved power and torque. The higher cost Discovery models come with finer trim and more equipment, but the basic goodness of the Discovery should come through regardless of trim level. Find a Land Rover Discovery for sale

Jim Resnick
Jim Resnick is an author specializing in automobiles and transportation over the past 25 years with thousands of articles to his credit in more than 30 publications including Wired, The New York Times, Kelley Blue Book, Car and Driver, the BBC, Forbes and Ars Technica. Jim's won several awards and has lectured at universities on the auto industry's relationship with government legislation. Jim... Read More about Jim Resnick

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