At first glance the 2017 Land Rover Discovery looks like a somewhat longer version of the Discovery Sport I drove two years ago in Iceland. They share nothing, however, and have totally diverse tasks. The five-seat Sport replaced the ancient LR2, while the seven-seat Discovery replaces the boxy LR4, or Discovery, as it was known to the rest of the world. Gerry McGovern and his team decided that rather than softening the LR4 up any more, they hit the retune switch. The 2017 Discovery starts over with its original name but with a broad new philosophy: beginning with a solid foundation of on-road competency and adding back enough off-road capability.
The all-new Discovery embodies Land Rover’s drive to go “Above and Beyond”, combining British desirability with an unstoppable spirit of adventure. It’s an authentic, three-row, seven-seat SUV with unbeatable capability and versatility.
Everyday ingenuity has been at the heart of the Discovery for the last 27 years. The all-new Discovery signals the transformation from cogs to code with more than 1.2 million customers on every step of the journey. The fifth-generation model benefits from Land Rover’s strong, safe and light full-size SUV architecture, delivering comfort and adaptability like no other. The all-new Discovery is for the digital age. Ingenious technology keeps your family safe, connected and confident on all surfaces, all terrains and in all weather to ensure your destination is reached.
The all-new Discovery was previewed by the Discovery Vision Concept, which showcased the future direction of the entire Discovery family when it debuted at the New York Auto Show in 2014, and represents a radical departure for Land Rover’s most versatile SUV. The revolutionary design gives Discovery a dynamic appearance with sophisticated surfaces and precisely engineered details designed to resonate with customers on an emotional level.
The Discovery family has always had a spirit of adventure and the new model provides a dramatic reinterpretation of Discovery’s 27 years of heritage and practical DNA with a sophisticated design that pays homage to previous models without being restrained by them.
Trademark design features include the stepped roofline, which has identified each of the four previous generations of Discovery and provides an elegant solution to a practical need. The stepped profile optimizes headroom for passengers traveling in the third row of seats. It also accommodates Discovery’s customary stadium seating configuration, which sees each row of seats positioned higher than the one in front, ensuring every seat is the best seat in the house.
Land Rover’s design and engineering integrity ensures all-new Discovery is able to accommodate seven full-sized adults in an SUV body measuring less than five meters in length (4,970mm). Most similarly sized competitors provide 5+2 seating but the all-new Discovery is designed for 95th percentile adults to sit comfortably in its rearmost seats, providing complete interior flexibility. Both third-row seats incorporate ISOFIX mounting points (five in total), so families have the freedom to put child seats in the most appropriate seat for any journey.
The limited-run ‘First Edition’ model showcases the very best of the all-new Discovery. Only 2,400 examples will be available globally with exclusive features including unique etched map detailing on the aluminum trim for the doors and fascia, unique badges, bold color choices and a comprehensive list of standard equipment.
The optional Dynamic Design Pack gives the all-new Discovery a more purposeful, stealth-like appearance both inside and out, with features including a contrast roof, athletic front and rear bumper designs, luxurious leather upholstery and a sports-inspired steering wheel and pedals setting it apart.
The family hauler with high-tech features
All-new Discovery provides world-first Intelligent Seat Fold technology, allowing customers to reconfigure the second- and third-row seats with minimal effort using controls at the rear of the vehicle, and the central touchscreen. All three rows are available with heated seats – heated and cooled in rows one and two – while massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger to optimize comfort on long journeys.
Enjoying the spacious interior of the all-new Discovery is made easier by another thoughtful Land Rover innovation. Auto Access Height technology reduces the ride-height by up to 40mm as passengers prepare to enter or exit the vehicle.
Alongside the spacious and flexible seating layout, the other key to the all-new Discovery’s superior versatility is Jaguar Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. The intuitive setup features a large 10-inch touchscreen positioned high on the center console, enabling Land Rover’s designers to reduce the number of switches on the center console by a third, delivering a clean and uncluttered appearance.
Crisp graphics and easy-to-navigate menus incorporating the latest navigation and entertainment technologies are combined with a 14-speaker Meridian digital surround system, with an additional subwoofer.
Up to six 12-volt charging points ensure the all-new Discovery is perfectly equipped to cope with the demands of the most connected families, while as many as seven USB sockets (up to nine when the rear seat entertainment is fitted) allow passengers in each row to power their smartphones or tablets simultaneously.
Another technology feature for active families is Land Rover’s state-of-the-art Activity Key wristband, which allows customers to enjoy sports and active hobbies without carrying the standard key fob. Holding the waterproof Activity Key up to the ‘D’ in the Discovery badge on the tailgate simultaneously locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left safely inside. This leaves customers free to run, swim, ride or play without worrying about the security of their vehicle.
At every stage of its development Land Rover has designed the all-new Discovery around the needs of its customers. This is evident when you look around the cabin. Land Rover’s design and engineering teams have an addiction to stowage, which has resulted in a host of convenient interior storage solutions for modern families, including:
Hidden cubby stowage in the central console capable of holding four iPads or a pair of two-liter drinks bottles
A central armrest cubby large enough to house five iPads with a lid that hinges through 180 degrees to function as an armrest even when open
Hidden small-item stowage behind the fold-down Climate Control panel
A flush fitting push-operated ‘curry hook’ in the front passenger footwell capable of securing carrier bags.
The effort put into developing all-new Discovery’s first-rate cabin stowage has been matched by the thought put into its luggage space. The premium SUV provides up to 2,500 liters of load capacity, or up to 1,231 liters behind row two, and the new dual-purpose Powered Inner Tailgate provides all the versatility expected from a vehicle wearing the Discovery badge.
When raised, the fold-down panel at the leading edge of the load area operates as a practical load restraint, but when lowered the 285mm overhanging section doubles as a useful bench for event seating or changing muddy footwear – all under the shelter provided by the new one-piece tailgate. This simple device replicates the functionality of the horizontally split tailgate fitted to previous generations of Discovery.
The all-new Discovery retains renowned Land Rover all-terrain capability thanks to its combination of excellent off-road geometry and advanced technology, while improving its everyday usability.
Ground clearance is rated at 283mm (up 43mm) while a maximum wading depth of 900mm (an increase of 200mm) puts Discovery in a class of its own, providing unrivalled confidence when tackling both waterlogged tracks and flooded roads.
A comprehensive suite of off-road driving technologies ensures the all-new Discovery’s supreme all-terrain capability is easy to access for even inexperienced drivers. Land Rover’s multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system optimizes a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics, to suit the driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller – and can even select the optimum setting automatically if drivers are unsure of the best choice.
When tackling particularly challenging terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programmed to autonomously maintain a suitable crawl speed chosen by the driver. The clever technology allows the driver to concentrate solely on steering the vehicle as they negotiate obstacles, without the distraction of operating the throttle or brake pedals, and can also be used from a standstill to help when pulling away on slippery surfaces.
On-road performance is enhanced by Land Rover’s proven lightweight and durable aluminum monocoque architecture, which contributes to a 480 kg weight savings compared to steel ladder construction. Land Rover’s advanced integral link rear suspension delivers superior handling characteristics without compromising the superb ride comfort that has defined successive generations of the Discovery family.
Land Rover’s trademark Command Driving Position also allows customers to enjoy the all-new Discovery’s enhanced breadth of capability in complete confidence, irrespective of the road and weather conditions, by providing excellent visibility.
This confidence extends to towing capability, which has been a hallmark of every generation of Discovery since it was used to tow a train at its original launch in 1989. With a maximum towing capacity at a class-leading 3,500 kg (3,720 kg in USA), Land Rover has developed clever technology to make the Discovery’s towing ability more accessible than ever.
Advanced Tow Assist is an ingenious development, which allows drivers to complete potentially difficult reversing maneuvers when towing trailers, caravans and horseboxes with ease.
Even absolute novices will be able to park using the clever system as it takes care of the tricky counter-steering required to position trailers accurately when reversing. The driver can simply guide the trailer into the desired space using the rotary controller for the Terrain Response 2 system. To make the job even easier, responsive guidance lines overlaid on the feed from the rear-facing camera are displayed on the central touchscreen, taking the stress out of an otherwise tricky task.
All-new Discoveries are powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s efficient range of six-cylinder petrol engines, paired with a smooth and responsive ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
For petrol customers, Land Rover’s advanced 340-hp supercharged petrol 3.0-liter V6, the Si6, provides 450 Nm of torque to deliver relaxed performance and capability.
We hit the ground in the state of Utah on board a lavish private jet, branded Discovery. Can we wish for more to start a first drive test? No, I don’t think so. I got off the plane and went into St.George Airport for a quick brief before I grabbed my Disco for an 800-kilometer plus journey for two days.
The same aluminum architecture used by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport has been used on the new Disco. It is 480 kg lighter, taking the Disco to just over 2.1 tonnes – 20% less than before. It’s a monocoque design, so it feels much tighter and sharper on road, but Land Rover insisted on the off-road ability, which has been enhanced somehow. What basically is missing versus the Range Rovers is the posh anti-roll and dynamic handling tech of a Range Rover.
How did it drive? Well, anything the old Discovery 4 (LR4) could do off-road, the new Discovery can do even better. Climbing across rocks, drifting through sand, monster hills, snow drive, muddy terrain, rocky surfaces; it’s astonishingly skilled – but is more refined, easier to drive and less effort than before as well.
Seven principles describe the essence of Discovery and have guided its creation:
1. The Magnificent Seven: every seat is the best seat in the house
• Flexible interior provides seven full-sized adult seats
2. A much loved member of the family: keeping you safe for the last 26 years
• Semi-autonomous safety technology provides the family peace of mind
• Premium interior combines leading design with durable, high-quality materials and space for the whole family
3. King of the hill: unstoppable on all surfaces, all terrains and in all weathers
• Land Rover’s full-sized SUV architecture delivers world-beating all-terrain capability
• Lightweight aluminum construction saves 480 kg
• Towing king: best-in-class 3,500 kg towing capacity and semi-autonomous Advanced Tow Assist take the stress out of difficult reversing maneuvers
4. British creativity: designed with charm and sophistication, loved by the world
• Design retains key Discovery family cues, adding optimized proportions and sophisticated surfaces
5. Storage addiction: discover the space for everything
• Up to 2,500 liters of luggage space and clever storage for 21st century family essentials
6. Connects every generation: ingenious features that make life easier
• Digital Discovery equipped with up to nine USB ports, and six 12-volt charging points
7. After the roads end: reaching threatened habitats and vulnerable people
• All-new Discovery will continue Land Rover’s work in humanitarian aid and conservation projects around the world.
The new Land Rover Discovery is surely brilliant enough to seduce you away from other luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. As it was known in its previous generation, LR4, the all-new Discovery should appeal to families who are more concerned about space, practicality and go-anywhere ability than the finer nuances of luxury and performance. (Although we should not forget to mention that the interior has been fully revamped!)
Pros: Gorgeous front styling, interior quality and high-tech features, superb driving experience, quiet and comfortable cabin, remarkable off-road experience
Cons: Rear end design
Rivals: Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5
one word: authentic
3.0L V6 supercharged, 340 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 450 Nm @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
4WD, 8-speed ZF auto
0-100 km/h: 7.1 sec, top speed: 215 km/h, fuel consumption: 10.9 L/100 km
Weight: 2,148 kg