2018 Land Rover Discovery review: Off-road cred, on-road demeanor
Off-road chops, on-road pleasantries
If you don't go diesel, your Discovery will come with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 like the one in my test car. This engine produces a stout 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Land Rover says this powertrain will get your 4,800-pound Discovery to 60 miles per hour in 6.9 seconds, though if you want to achieve the EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 16 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, you'll have to be more conservative with your right foot.
Land Rovers tend to be fashion accessories for the Beverly Hills set these days, but make no mistake, they still have serious off-road cred. This fully loaded HSE Luxury tester comes standard with a two-speed transfer case, but select the $1,275 Capability Plus Package, and you get Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system, as well as an active locking rear differential. Terrain Response 2 offers different modes for various types of off-roading: Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl.
An available air suspension can raise the Disco for a maximum of 11 inches of ground clearance, giving the SUV approach, departure and breakover angles of 29.5, 28.0 and 25.5 degrees, respectively. For even more hardcore off-roading, Land Rover offers optional All-Terrain Progress Control, which is sort of like low-speed cruise control for dirt, as well as hill-descent control.
That said, I cannot stress enough the importance of proper off-road tires should you actually want to hit some tough trails. Climbing the notoriously tricky Truck Hill at California's Hollister Hills off-road park, the Discovery seems like it'll handle the grade without issue. But when the all-season tires start slipping in shallow ruts, making it so I can't make it to the top, I'm reminded that beefier shoes are highly recommended.
Of course, most Disco owners will largely stick to paved roads, and there, it's wonderful. Sport mode offers more chutzpah, with quicker throttle response and revised shift mapping, but most of the time, you're better off leaving the car in its default Auto setting.
When it comes to tackling the back roads, the Discovery handles the twisties better than expected, especially considering its size and weight. Sure, you'll experience some body roll, but it's far from a ponderous elephant. Instead, think brown bear. Mostly it's happy to just cruise along the trail.
Adaptive cruise control is included in the Drive Pro Package and it works great in the Discovery, bringing me to a complete stop behind a lead car in heavy traffic and pausing before taking off again. I like the traffic sign recognition in the head up display, but find that the forward collision warning alert was way too sensitive. Unfortunately, it can't be reconfigured, so I just found it best to turn it off completely.
Lots of space
The Discovery has a ton of space inside, and not just for people. There are two glove boxes, a hidden cubby in the center stack and a center armrest storage compartment that can accommodate laptops or tablets. If it's cargo space you seek, the Disco can accommodate 9.1 cubic feet of goodies behind its third row of seats, which expands to 43.5 cubic feet with the way-back stowed, or as much as 88.3 cubic feet with all rear seats folded. One trick feature: You can fold the seats right from the InControl home screen, or from switches in the cargo bay compartment.
The second-row seats can be moved forward and aft over a range of 6.3 inches. And with the Disco's upright shape offering a wealth of headroom, video producer Marc Ganley -- Roadshow's 6-foot, 6-inch giant -- has no trouble sitting back there.
Up in front, passengers are pampered in this HSE Luxury trim, including heated, cooling and massaging seats. And while the massage function can be directed to work on individual areas, I have to say, these are some of the loudest in-seat motors I've ever heard.
Midrange HSE and fully loaded HSE Luxury trims get a 10-inch display running Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. The HSE also adds a 12.3-inch driver-configurable digital gauge cluster, which isn't as slick as the Virtual Cockpit found in Audi models, but still allows me to put navigation or other important information front and center.
Unfortunately, it's mostly downhill from there. InControl Touch Pro is super slow to respond to inputs, and sometimes doesn't respond to touch altogether. Fellow Roadshow staffers have experienced this with other Jaguar Land Rover products, and it really just feels like a faster processor is in order. If you'd rather use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, well, too bad. The Discovery doesn't support either.
It's not all bad news, however. A Wi-Fi hotspot can support up to eight devices and while my tester only comes with four USB ports, two each for the first and second rows, the Discovery can be configured with six 12-volt sockets and nine USB ports across all three rows.
How I'd spec it
While a base Discovery SE starts at $52,090, my fully loaded tester stickers for a much more expensive $82,694, including the $995 destination charge.
I'd definitely be getting my Disco dirty, so I'll surely spend less money than that. To be honest, I'd likely stick with the base SE, and order the sweet diesel engine. Adding the Capability Package gets me the two-speed transfer case, air suspension and Terrain Response 2. Finally, I'd take the aforementioned Drive Pro Package to get some adaptive driving systems, and spend $665 on a tow hitch in order to take advantage of the diesel Disco's 8,200-pound tow rating. Oh, and give me the cooled center storage compartment so I can keep my Diet Dr. Pepper cans cold. All in, I won't get as much in the way of luxury, but I'll only spend just over $60,000. Plenty of money left over for some rugged tires.
Looking at the competition, you really have to decide what you want out of an SUV. Those interested in better on-road performance will likely prefer the high-tech, super comfy Audi Q7 or nicely balanced BMW X5. If off-road performance is your jam, however, you're looking at the old-as-bones Lexus GX or significantly more expensive Mercedes G-Class.
With its rugged aura, great style and useful and luxurious interior, there's plenty to like about Land Rover's latest Discovery. Its infotainment system may be a big disappointment, but in every other regard, the 2018 Disco is as enjoyable as it ever was.
Emme's Comparable Picks
Clean Retail Price
The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.
|5-Year Cost to Own / Rating|
|$52,090||$41,665||$59,346 / Poor|
|$52,090||$41,665||$59,346 / Poor|
|$54,090||$43,415||$58,625 / Mediocre|
|$58,490||$49,415||$67,429 / Poor|
|$60,490||$50,615||$66,471 / Poor|
|$65,490||$52,590||$70,880 / Poor|
|$67,490||$54,365||$70,021 / Mediocre|
5-Year Cost to Own
- Well-appointed interior
- Capable off-road
- Usable third row for adults
- Diesel engine needs more power
- Gas engine isn't very fuel efficient
- Handling isn't very confidence-inspiring.
Land Rover Discovery Expert Review
A 10.0-inch touchscreen is now standard on all 2018 Discovery models and comes with Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Pro infotainment system. Automatic emergency braking is standard on all models, and both gas and diesel engine options are now available on all trims.
The 2018 Land Rover Discovery is a large luxury SUV that's capable off-road and can seat up to seven passengers with its optional two-seat third row. Three trims are offered.
Discovery SE: The base SE trim comes with a fixed panoramic glass roof, automatic headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 10-speaker audio system, 12-way adjustable front seats, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, navigation, a 10.0-inch touchscreen, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, keyless start and a gesture-operated tailgate.
Discovery HSE: Moving up to the HSE trim adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, full LED headlights, fog lights, keyless entry, a 10-speaker Meridian premium audio system, and front parking sensors.
Discovery HSE Luxury: The HSE Luxury trim adds a two-speed transfer case, air suspension, 16-way power front seats with driver's side memory, Windsor leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, configurable ambient lighting, a power-folding third row, and a 14-speaker Meridian premium audio system.
Notable options include heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a 360-degree view camera system, Land Rover's All Terrain Progress Control system, heated third row seats, massaging front seats, and an active locking rear differential.
The 2018 Discovery is powered by either a gas 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque or a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 254 hp and 443 lb-ft for the SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury models. SVX models come powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 518 hp and 461 lb-ft. All variants come exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy ratings haven't been released for the 2018 Discovery but the 2017 model was rated at 16/21 mpg city/highway for the gas engine and 21/26 mpg for the diesel.
Automatic emergency braking comes standard on all 2018 Discovery SUVs. Driver condition monitor, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition are available on all models as part of the Drive and Drive Pro packages. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane keeping assist are added to the Drive and Drive Pro packages on the HSE and HSE Luxury trims.
Seven-seat variants of the 2018 Discovery have 9.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and that can be expanded to 40.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 85 cubic feet behind the front seats. Five-seat models have 43.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 88.3 cubic feet behind the front seats. When properly equipped, the gas-powered Discovery can tow up to 8,201 pounds of payload while the diesel is rated at 7,716 pounds.
In a 2017 review, we said that the Discovery offers excellent off-road performance despite moving to a unibody platform. On pavement, the Discovery drives smaller than it looks thanks to its good steering and independent suspension. Due to its size, the Discovery's handling isn't as confidence inspiring and the SUV can feel sloppy.
Inside, we noted that the Discovery's third row is usable for adults and that the second row can slide forward and back, giving it better flexibility. We did note, however, that the diesel engine is lacking and needs more grunt to improve its passing power. When it comes to smoothness, on the other hand, the diesel engine is more linear and doesn't lurch from a stop like the gas engine does. In a 2017 First Test review, we said that the interior is well-appointed, feels premium, and has plenty of storage spaces.
The Land Rover Discovery SVX is a nearly-production-ready concept that's powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with more than 500 horsepower.
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Few crossover SUVs are as capable as the Land Rover Discovery—and that refers both to its off-road potential and its people-hauling competence. From all three rows of seats, occupants are treated to spacious accommodations with a clear view of the road ahead. Getting off-road, the Disco is a star, with a maximum 11.1 inches of ground clearance—more than some jacked-up four-wheel-drive pickup trucks. And for on-road duty, the Discovery has an upscale cabin and plenty of infotainment and active-safety tech.
What's New for 2018?
After a complete overhaul for 2017, Land Rover has made only minor changes for 2018. All models now come with the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning are now standard on all trims, and diesel power is also now available throughout the range.
- SE: $53,085
- HSE: $59,485
- HSE Luxury: $66,485
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Two engines are offered with the Discovery: a standard 340-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and an available 254-hp diesel 3.0-liter V-6. Both are mated to an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. Although neither engine serves up hyper-refined, vibration-free operation, the gas-powered engine, although thirsty, is much more powerful with pleasingly quick acceleration. A host of available off-road-oriented mechanicals provide go-anywhere capability that few rivals can match. But while it’s among the most capable off-roaders of its kind, that skill doesn’t necessarily translate to paved-road performance. The Discovery’s handling feels clumsy and top-heavy when changing direction. Still, overall ride quality is good, and even harsh bumps are dealt with easily.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Discovery's cabin materials are decidedly upscale. Luxury features abound throughout the interior, and the level of comfort increases as you climb through the available trims. Power-adjustable, heated leather seating with optional massage for the driver and front passenger offer good support and cushioning; second-row seats aren’t as generously padded but provide fore-and-aft and recline adjustments. Third-row passengers have less space than those in other rows but can expect reasonable comfort. The Discovery only provides ample room for cargo with its seats folded, and while its cabin is dotted with many useful cubbies and bins, their capacities aren’t class-leading.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Discovery's InControl Touch Pro infotainment system comes with a 10.2-inch display, navigation, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. The system is is beautifully designed and looks fantastic, but it operates more slowly than some rivals, and the interface is not as intuitive as it should be. A Meridian 10-speaker audio system is standard on HSE models, but HSE Luxury trims get a premium 14-speaker setup. As many as nine USB ports dot the cabin, and a rear-seat entertainment system is optional. But what you won’t find on any Discovery trim is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Land Rover Discovery’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.
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