2017 Land Rover Discovery First Drive

Mar. 10, 2017 By Jaime Hernandez, Photos Courtesy of Land Rover and Jaime Hernandez

If there ever was a premium SUV that strikes a balance between comfort and versatility, the all-new 2017 Land Rover Discovery makes a strong case for the title.  The fifth generation Discovery comes from a long lineage of four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles made for adventure.  Originally developed to fit between the Defender and Range Rover models, the Discovery could offer more seating and versatility matched with Land Rover’s off-road capability.  The basic principles are still there today, but Land Rover has decided to take the Discovery family in a new direction in order to appeal to a wider audience.

We recently had the opportunity to test drive the New Discovery during its global launch in North America. The two-day adventure included long stretches of highway between Utah and Arizona that allowed us to experience the comfort and performance of the New Discovery. Scenic and curvy roads through Zion and the Grand Canyon made for exhilarating road carving and seat time behind the wheel of the premium full size SUV.  Staying true to its roots, our Land Rover adventure also included off-road sections that allowed us to test the New Discovery’s capabilities in dirt, sand, and even rock crawling.

Let’s go for a ride.

Land Rover showcased 27 years of heritage with a collection of vehicles starting with the Discovery 1 up to the latest model--the new Discovery.

The 2017 Land Rover Discovery
The new Discovery takes a different approach to the old boxy design many of us are accustomed to seeing in earlier Land Rover Discovery models. From the Discovery 1 introduced in 1989 to the LR4, the versatility and distinct design features like a stepped roof and alpine windows have helped set it apart from other SUVs on the market.  Although Land Rover is now moving in a new direction with the New Discovery, it didn’t want to leave its rich 27-year heritage behind.  This includes its off-road capability.

The new Discovery feels as confident driving through the city as it does off-road.  It offers seating for up to 7 adults, a towing capacity of up to 8,201 lbs, and optimized suspension with unique Land Rover technologies that ensure it delivers excellent all-terrain capability.

The new Discovery ties in elements from previous generations into its radically modern design. The patented stepped roof and highly visible C-pillar found on past Discovery models makes the cut. The asymmetric tailgate is also there, but now moves focus to the license plate holder area. Moving away from the boxy construct of previous generations, the new Discovery instead features smooth, rounded curvature and a lower stance—similar to the Range Rover. Some similarities are also visible in the headlights, front bumper and grill.

The LED rear tail lights on the new Discovery have a horizontal emphasis to give it a sporty look. The asymmetric tailgate design found on earlier Discovery models is also there, but now moves focus to the license plate holder area.

Using state-of-the-art aluminum unibody construction, the new Discovery delivers greater levels of performance and strength than previous generations. Land Rover was able to leverage technologies from its flagship Range Rover SUV when developing the new Discovery. They used the latest materials and build technologies to make it stronger and lighter.  The New Discovery is actually 1,000 lbs. lighter than the previous generation Discovery LR4.  It’s also important to note that Land Rover cares about sustainability. Fifty percent of the sheet aluminum used in the new Discovery comes from recycled aluminum.

The interior takes classic Discovery elements and incorporates them with strong horizontal and vertical lines that connect through the dashboard.  Premium leather, wood and metal finishes blend with craftsmanship and precision to create a modern design.  The infotainment features a 10-inch high-resolution touchscreen that is easy to use and takes connectivity to a new level.
The designers and engineers at Land Rover went to great lengths to make the new Discovery the ultimate family SUV. A great amount of time was spent researching what active families want in a vehicle. The New Discovery delivers on those findings with a number of features and first-in-class technologies that will pique the interest of the modern family.

The new Discovery offers refined seating for seven adults with the optional third row seats. A Panoramic Roof enhances the sense of space in the vehicle’s interior and floods it with natural light.

The new Discovery offers seating for up to seven adults and has an optional third-row seat. Built into the second- and third-row seats are a total of four child safety seat latch points for the growing family. The versatility of the cabin comes to light with the easily configurable seating and plentiful storage available. The optional Intelligent Seat Fold allows users to configure the second- and third-row seating using switches located in the cargo area, on the main touchscreen or even remotely via smartphone.

The new Discovery has ample room for cargo, up to 82.7 cubic feet. The second- and third-row seats can be laid flat for transporting large items, and is suitable for car camping if you’re feeling adventurous.

The new Discovery also helps keep the family connected with 9 USB ports, Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, six 12V charging ports, and storage for up to four iPads in the center console. After spending two days in the new Discovery and driving over 350 miles in comfort, we can see how having all these amenities built into the vehicle can make life easier—especially with kids. I can’t guarantee the “Are we there yet?” questions will disappear, but it should make for a much more pleasant travel experience for the entire family.

Safety is paramount, and the New Discovery makes it its mission to get your family to its destination safely. The Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) includes a host of new features, including Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Driver Condition Monitor, and Surround Camera System for peace of mind when approaching a blind intersection or tight spaces. The Lane Keep Assist will gently counter steer if it notices the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of the lane. 

The Powered Inner Tailgate features a clever fold-down panel that can support up to three adults and is rated for 660 lbs.

The New Discovery can even park itself in parallel or perpendicular spaces, only requiring pedal input from the driver. When towing, the Advanced Tow Assist system takes the stress out of reversing a trailer. The New Discovery will actually do it for you.  All you have to do is tell it where you want the trailer to go by rotating a controller knob and controlling the pedals. It will even alert you if there’s a chance for jackknife. 

Using state-of-the-art aluminum unibody construction, the New Discovery delivers greater levels of performance, improved strength and sustainability.  50% of the sheet aluminum used comes from recycled aluminum.

Additional safety features include Autonomous Braking, which will stop the car if it notices pedestrians or a stopped car in the road.

The New Discovery uses an innovative suspension architecture that is mounted on steel front and rear subframes.  This helps provide high levels of stiffness for improved steering response and chassis performance.  The fully independent suspension uses a wide-spaced double-wishbone layout up front, while a multi-link layout with integral link is used for the rear.  This set-up allows the New Discovery to have superior body control without compromising comfort or dampening.

For the U.S. market, the new Discovery is offered with a supercharged 3.0L 340 HP V-6 gasoline engine or a 3.0L turbocharged 254 HP V-6 diesel engine that is rated to produce 443 lb.-ft. of torque. Both the gas and diesel are equipped with the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, which has been tuned by Land Rover engineers for each specific model. We had seat time in both the diesel- and gas-powered vehicles. What surprised us the most about the TdV6 diesel is how quiet the engine is; in fact, when we first jumped in we weren’t sure if it was a diesel.

For North America, the New Discovery will be offered with Supercharged 340HP V-6 Gas engine or Turbocharged 254HP V-6 Diesel engine with 443 lb-ft of torque  (shown above).

The diesel-powered Discovery climbed effortlessly up the winding road through Zion National Park.  On the open road, it cruised comfortably and had plenty of power for acceleration. Off-road the diesel delivered great power and torque when climbing. If you’re looking for fuel economy and towing power, the TdV6 24 valve, common rail diesel makes a good choice. It has an EPA rating of 21 mpg city and 26 mph for the highway.

The New Discovery has numerous all-terrain features that make traversing difficult terrain easy.  From the Terrain Response system to the Hill Descent Control (HDC), it’s all in arms reach and ready to be engaged or dialed in for take off.

The 3.0L Si6 gasoline-powered Discovery is what we spent most of our time in, and we loved it. The extra horsepower made it fun to drive and it was much more responsive. The additional 80+ HP over the diesel made a difference when we tackled the sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes. There’s just something about having a vehicle that can run at higher RPM and has power on tap whenever you hit the accelerator. If you’re more of a performance driver, the 3.0L Si6 24 valve, Quad cam DIVCT (Dual Independent Variable Cam Timing) gas engine is a good choice.  It has an EPA rating of 16 mpg city, 21 mpg highway.

Although the new Discovery may seem like it’s made for the city, don’t let those looks deceive you. The new Discovery feels surefooted in most any terrain thanks to its full-time four-wheel drive system, low range with 2.93:1 ratio, and a standard locking center differential (an optional locking rear differential is also available).  It has a 115-inch wheelbase with a respectable approach angle of 34 degrees, and departure angle of 30 degrees. We didn’t cross any ponds, but it’s reassuring to know that the new Discovery can handle a wading depth of up to 35.4 inches.

The new Discovery can also be lifted for the trail thanks to 4-Wheel Independent Electronic Air Suspension. It gives it 11 inches of ground clearance and almost 20 inches of wheel articulation at full height. There’s also a great deal of all-terrain technology embedded into the new Discovery, like the Terrain Response 2 system. It’s designed to automatically monitor the driving conditions to ensure the vehicle is performing optimally off-road while in “Auto” mode. The Terrain Response 2 also allows the driver to select the mode manually from a dial on the center console. It includes Grass, Gravel and Snow, Mud and Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawling mode. We kept ours in Auto most of the time but did get to use Rock Crawling mode when going up a series of rock ledges, and the Sand mode while driving in the dunes.

The new Discovery is equipped with the ZF 8-speed Automatic Transmission in both gas and diesel models. The electronically controlled transmission is tuned by Land Rover engineers to combine silky-smooth shifting with exceptionally rapid response (each shift is completed in just 200 milliseconds).
The New Discovery also includes Hill Descent Control (HDC), which helps the driver negotiate difficult slopes by keeping a constant speed and applying braking separately to each wheel. This makes going downhill easy. Then there’s Land Rover’s All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC). This took a little getting used to. The ATPC is designed to make off-road driving easier and safer by allowing the driver to set a crawl speed and only focus on the steering. We tried it going up a rocky dirt hill—it works! The vehicle slowly ascended up the hill and all we did was steer (no brake or gas pedal input needed).  When we hit a larger obstacle, the vehicle stopped, held its place while it configured our next move, and then it began to crawl again. It was amazing! Before we know it Land Rover will have an autonomous 4WD.

The 2017 Discovery has the potential to build some excitement in the aftermarket. Land Rover enthusiasts looking to further enhance their off-road capability can take some cues from this modified Discovery one of our Land Rover Experience guides was driving. The Warn Zeon 10.5 Winch with integrated cradle looked at home under the factory front bumper.  The Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires mounted on the factory wheels also gave it a distinguishing look while adding more traction off-road.

The all-new 2017 Land Rover new Discovery starts from $49,990 and is available in three trims levels: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury.  There will also be a limited “First Edition” with only 500 made.  You can choose from 18 exterior colors and three wheels sizes ranging from 19- to 21-inch diameter.

2017 Discovery Models for the U.S. Market
FROM $49,990
340HP Petrol V-6 Only
Coil Spring Suspension Standard (Air Suspension Optional)
Seating for Five (Seven Passenger Optional)
Single Speed Transfer Case (Two-Speed Optional)
Halogen Lights
Manual Steering Column
–19” Wheels – Style 5021
–250 Watt Land Rover Audio System with InControl™ Touch (Opt. Navigation)
–Fixed Panoramic Glass Sunroof
–Rear Parking Sensors
–Rain Sensing Wipers
–Infrared Reflective Windshield
–12 Way Grained Leather Seats
–Powerfold Door Mirrors with Approach lights
–Two Zone Auto AC
–Keyless Entry
–Gesture Power Tailgate
–InControl™ Protect

FROM $56,950
–Supercharged 340HP Petrol V-6 or Turbocharged 254HP Diesel V-6
–Coil Spring Suspension Standard (Air Suspension Optional)
–Seating for Five (Seven Passenger Optional)
–Single Speed Transfer Case (Two-Speed Optional)
–LED Headlights and Front Fog Lights
–Power Steering Column
#20” Wheels – Style 5011
#380 Watt Meridian® Audio System and Sirius XM and HD Radio
#InControl™ Touch Pro Navigation
#Three Zone Climate Control
#Memory 12 Way Grained Leather Seats
#Power Sliding Panoramic Glass Sunroof
#InControl™ Remote
#InControl™ Pro Services
#Wood Dashboard Veneers
#High Line Taillights
#Front and Rear Parking Sensors
#Power Inner Tailgate
#Bright Metal Treadplates
#In Dash Storage Behind Climate Controls
#Upgraded Center Console with Sliding Cover For Cupholders
#Front Shopping Bag Hook

FROM $63,950
–Supercharged 340HP Petrol V-6 or Turbocharged 254HP Diesel V-6
–Standard Air Suspension
–Seating for Seven - Power Folding Third Row Seats with Remote
–Standard Two-Speed Transfer Case
–LED Headlights and Front Fog Lights
–Power Steering Column
#20” Wheels – Style 1011
#825 Watt Meridian® Audio System
#Intelligent Seat Fold
#16 way Windsor Leather Seats
#Extended Leather
#Front & Rear Heated Seats
#Heated Steering Wheel
#Heated Washer Jets
#Chrome Door Handles
#Configurable Interior Mood Lighting

*only 500 units made
FROM $73,950
#Special First Edition Badging and Cartography Interior Trim
#21” Wheels Style 1012
#Premium Metallic Paint
#Front Center Console Cooler Compartment
#Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control
#Black Exterior Trim
#Autonomous Emergency Braking
#Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
#Park Assist and 360 Parking Aid and Surround Camera
#Blind Spot Monitor with Reverse Traffic Detection
#Driver Condition Monitor
#Intelligent Speed Limiter with Traffic Sign Recognition
#Activity Key
#Heated Windshield
#Auto Dimming Exterior Mirrors and Auto High Beam Assist
#Loadspace Cover

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