Land Rover built its reputation on superior off-road capabilities and over the decades has added incredible refinement and luxury to its vehicles. In 2015, Land Rover introduced the Discovery Sport, a premium compact SUV that builds on these traditions.
The Discovery Sport is powered by a turbocharged 240-horsepower 2.0L engine, with 250 pound-feet of torque. The all-alloy engine features direct injection and variable valve timing and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, borrowed from the Range Rover Evoque. The second-gear ratio is equivalent to first in other transmissions and is used to start the Discovery Sport from a stop. The ultra-low first gear can be selected manually during maximum acceleration or during difficult off-road instances. The circular gear selector rises from the center console on startup, while steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters provide the ultimate in driver control. Land Rover claims the Discovery Sport will hit 60 mph from a standstill in 7.8 seconds, with a top speed of 124 mph.
Full-time all-wheel drive is standard on the Discovery Sport and long-travel suspension lends itself to increased articulation (13.4 inches) in challenging situations. The all-wheel drive system continuously varies torque between the front and rear wheels for great handling in all conditions, and the electronic Haldex center coupling is far more responsive than a traditional mechanical coupling. Land Rover Terrain Response includes settings for General driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand. Each mode precisely adjusts the Discovery Sport's 4-wheel drive and suspension settings capabilities, with near-instant terrain-directed updates to throttle response, gearbox, center coupling, braking and stability systems. Hill-wise, the Discovery Sport can handle gradients of up to 45 degrees.
The Discovery Sport is a capable on-road performer as well, thanks to an excellent suspension system that utilizes aluminum components for reduced weight. Aluminum is also used in the hood, front fenders, roof, and tailgate -- away from the center of gravity, which helps in the realm of agility.
Three trims are offered: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. Base models include 18-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights, power adjustable heated exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, partial leather seating, cruise control, 2-zone climate control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and audio streaming, an 8-inch color infotainment touchscreen, first- and second-row USB charging ports, a 60/40 folding second-row seat and a rear camera. HSE adds Xenon headlights, front and rear fog lamps, a fixed panoramic roof, grained leather seating, power 10-way front seats, Homelink universal garage door opener and a powered tailgate. Finally, the HSE Luxury includes features like 19-inch alloy wheels, Windsor leather seats, configurable mood lighting, an 11-speaker premium audio system, SiriusXM satellite and HD radio and navigation.
Options on the SE include 19-inch wheels, with a gloss-black choice that must be paired with the Black Design Package, which adds a black roof and grille to the Discovery Sport. A Vision Assist Package on the HSE adds adaptive Xenon headlights, blind spot monitoring with perimeter sensor, and a surround camera system. A 20-inch Black Design wheel package is also available. Optional on all Discovery Sports is a 2-passenger third-row seat.
Safety systems on the Discovery Sport include hill descent control to keep a constant speed on steep inclines, roll stability control, dynamic stability control and traction control. Also standard are driver and passenger front airbags, knee airbags, side curtain airbags and thorax airbags.
One of the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport's greatest assets is its beautiful body. Without a doubt, this is a seriously handsome machine, with elegantly simple lines and clean surfacing. It's nearly as pretty as the breathtaking Designers managed to carry that tastefulness into the interior as well, which is similarly chic. Inside and out, this luxury utility vehicle looks like a winner.
Too bad it falls short just about everywhere else.
Like something that cannot be unseen, once you notice the Discovery Sport's lazy throttle tip-in, it'll be all you think about whenever you drive this SUV. This vehicle is infuriatingly soft off the line, with accelerator-pedal progression that's completely nonlinear. From zero input to about 50% throttle, the Discovery responds the same way, with all the enthusiasm of Eeyore. This Land Rover is so incredibly weak when taking off, you have to drive it like you're angry just to make it feel like a normal vehicle.
The Good ~ Smooth-running engine ~ Attractive interior ~ Elegant styling
The Bad ~ Iffy infotainment system ~ Atrocious throttle tip-in ~ Paucity of features
The Bottom Line It looks nice, and its interior is elegantly designed and roomy, but the Land Rover Discovery Sport is annoying to drive and overpriced for what it delivers.
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