Land Rover Discovery Sport

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.

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Editors' First Take

In the two years that have progressed since Land Rover launched the Discovery Sport line in the US (replacing the aging LR2), plenty of advancements have been made in terms of in-car technology. Thus, in updating its midsize utility vehicle for 2017, Land Rover's focused nearly entirely on technology.

That isn't to say that it's left other parts to languish. In HSE or HSE Lux trims, the Disco Sport can be optioned to include the new Dynamic Design Pack, which amounts to more aggressive bumpers, blacked-out exterior trim, black wheels and contrast-stitched interior pieces. There are four new colors on offer, as well -- silver, black, gray and "Aruba Metallic," which is a gold-grey hybrid.

The real gem in this update, though, is the introduction of Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro touchscreen infotainment system. Packing a 10.2-inch screen, a quad-core processor and a speedy solid-state hard drive, it's loaded to the gills with features and has a design meant to mimic a smartphone experience. You can check local weather reports, peruse high-definition maps, and do many other things that the "back in my day" crowd used to do before leaving the house.

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