The most obvious difference between the all-new 2017 Land Rover Discovery and thethat it replaces is the new body. Yes, it looks a heck of a lot like a Ford Explorer now, but beneath the more curvaceous sheet metal (or rather, within it) is a unibody chassis that is lighter and stiffer than the model that this one replaces -- about 1,000 pounds lighter, to be specific-ish.
That much weight reduction (or, more specifically, moment of inertia reduction) should bring big improvements to nearly all aspects of a vehicle's performance from acceleration and braking to handling and dynamics to fuel economy and efficiency.
Overall, Land Rover has placed a bigger emphasis on building a Discovery that's easier to live with, boasting better on road handling and a more refined ride than before. No, it obviously doesn't want to sacrifice the off-road capability that is the brand's hallmark -- be sure to check out our first-hand experience-- but the reality is that the average luxury SUV logs the vast majority of its miles on-road.
For that reason, the Discovery's air suspension and tighter chassis have been tuned for the tarmac. More refined Electronic Power Assisted Steering and Brake Control stability assistance contribute to better cornering and handling. The ride is still very truckish when the road gets really twisty, but the Disco feels planted and confident on the freeway.
That's partially because it is literally more planted at freeway speeds. The air suspension lowers itself into a more aerodynamic ride height that both lowers the center of mass, which improves stability at high speeds, and reduces air turbulence beneath the SUV, which reduces aerodynamic lift and drag, further contributing to the feeling of a more planted ride.
Riders plant their rear ends in one of the standard five seating positions. Check the right option box when spec'ing your Disco and the capacity for passengers increases to seven seats. Our example was equipped with the optional Intelligent Fold seating package, which adds power folding motors to the second and third row seats that can lower or raise the benches with either the touch of physical buttons in the cabin, virtual buttons in the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system's interface or a connected smartphone running Land Rover's InControl app.
I was able to squeeze my 5-foot-9-inch adult body into the third row without too much trouble, though I'd probably not want to hang out back there for an extended period of time. About the only disadvantage I could find of the power folding rear seats is that they do cut into the rear stowage area a bit (even in their flat folded configuration) so those who do more cargo hauling than people moving may want to think twice before checking this particular box.
In addition to the power seats, we've also equipped a power liftgate that can be activated with a touch or touchlessly by kicking a foot past a sensor located beneath the rear bumper. Within the main tailgate is a second inner tailgate that lowers like a drawbridge to create a small ledge for loading items (or having a sit) without scuffing the rear bumper. This, combined with the air suspension's ability to lower the vehicle's rear end at the touch of a button, makes the Discovery fairly convenient for loading and unloading bulky items.
Supercharged V6 with Terrain Response 2
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that makes 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. If those numbers sound familiar, it's because that power train can be found all throughout Jaguar Land Rover's modern line of vehicles, from theto the .
Though lighter than its predecessor, the Disco is still one of the largest vehicles in JLR's stable and a massive mode of transport. The V6 engine rises to this challenge with a strong feeling of acceleration and smooth, quiet highway cruising.
The V6 is mated to a standard four-wheel drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission -- also standard. Shifts are smoothly executed; the program behind that execution is tuned for driving comfort and fuel economy. There is a Sport program accessible via the rotary drive select knob -- another hallmark of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles that replaces the more conventional shift lever -- triggering more aggressive shift points and improved acceleration.
In this configuration, the Discovery is good for an EPA estimated 16 mpg city, 21 mpg highway or 18 mpg combined. My tested estimate of 16.8 mpg -- over mostly rural highways and fire trails -- falls in line with the EPA's reckoning.
The separation between the Discovery's 3.0L V6 supercharged power train and that of a mere Jaguar XE AWD is the plethora of 4x4 equipment on the business end of the eight-speed gearbox. The Disco features an optional two-speed transfer case with a 4WD low-gearing mode for increased traction and torque multiplication for during low-speed crawling and climbing. The SUV also boasts an optional more robust active rear differential that can be locked depending on the needs of the terrain.
In addition to the standard Sport and Normal on-road driving modes accessible via the shifter knob, the Discovery driver also has an entire second "Terrain Response 2" option that toggles between presets for rock crawling, mud and ruts, sand and snow. Choosing one of these modes adjusts the differential locks, air suspension ride height, throttle response and traction control for maximum grip in each situation. However, this new generation of Terrain Response should, when left in its Auto mode, be smarter and more proactive at sensing the driving surface and adjusting its settings than previous systems. So, in theory, most drivers will never need to fiddle with this system until facing fairly extreme conditions.