The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Discovery
£45,810 – £68,590
2018 Land Rover Discovery Review
Impressive 8-speed automatics
Contemporary shape on a classic name
Tangled options that add up
Lagging infotainment system
No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support
The 2018 Land Rover Discovery is a spacious three-row crossover with more capability than anything that doesn’t ride on tank tracks.
The 2018 Land Rover Discovery is a full-size luxury SUV that’s an old name on new ideas.
It’s better at cheating the wind and carrying families.
It carries over essentially unchanged from last year’s new model, and earns an impressive 7.4 overall. Fuel economy is always going to hold back a 5,000-pound SUV, but it excels in comfort and performance.
The Discovery’s profile will be foreign to people familiar with the nameplate. Land Rover ditched the brick-in-the-wind shape of earlier generations for a smoother shape that cuts a cleaner hole through the air. It reads nearly bulbous in photos, but in person, nose-to-nose, the Disco is still as big as it’s ever been. We bemoan the lost “alpine” windows and tail-mounted spares of yesteryear, but will willingly trade both for this vehicle’s impressive off-road prowess.
One historical note: The Discovery name disappeared here in the U.S. after the 2004 model year, when it was replaced by the LR3 and subsequently the LR4. But those two boxy ‘utes were badged as Discoverys elsewhere, so the name only took a vacation from us.
Under the hoods of most new Discovery models will be a capable and powerful 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that asks for premium unleaded. It smoothly delivers 340 horsepower, which is enough for highway passing, but requires more attention and a little heavier feet off-road than we were expecting.
An optional turbodiesel V-6 solves that dilemma for us. It’s prolific 443 pound-feet of pull comes on song much earlier in the rev range, and it returns marginally better fuel economy. It’s $2,000 dearer than the gas engine, but we’d recommend most buyers consider the oil-burner: it’s quieter, stronger, and smarter.
Like anything with a Land Rover badge, the new Discovery comes at a premium. Base models start at around $51,000, but HSE Luxury-trimmed Discovery SUVs can summit $80,000 almost as easily as they can ascend the nearest mountain.
Set course for the grocery store via Mount Denali. The Discovery almost demands it.
There are no bad picks for powertrain in the Land Rover Discovery, but for our money, the diesel and air suspension setup unlock a world of terrain to explore.
The Land Rover Discovery has refined its on-road behavior in ways that belie the SUV’s prowess off road.
The standard gas V-6 and optional turbodiesel V-6 are both impressive. Same goes for its 8-speed automatic and ride, which is improved by an optional air suspension that we don’t think should be optional at all—it’s bundled with the Discovery’s third row and low-speed transfer case that make the Discovery a formidable off-roader. We give the Disco an 8 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that makes 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic that’s effortless and smart, one of the better transmissions that we’re appreciating in every application.
The gas engine makes good use of its power, and can propel the Discovery to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, but outright speed isn’t its forte. The gas engine makes most of its torque between 3,500 and 4,000 rpm—unusually high for a turbocharged engine—and needs more revs to lug the lumbering 4,900-pound SUV up boulders and trails. It’s just as capable as ever, but with a little more attention to the throttle than you might expect.
The optional turbodiesel V-6 makes its power much lower in the rev range (1,750 rpm), runs up to 60 mph faster (6.9 seconds), sips less fuel, and is quieter than the gas version. We admit that some might hesitate opting for the diesel engine, which costs roughly $2,000 more, but we consider it to be a worthwhile investment.
The diesel engine is mated to the same 8-speed automatic and powers all four wheels. We haven’t yet driven a Discovery with a base suspension, which is a traditional coil-spring setup. So far, our experiences have been with the air suspension that’s bundled with the third-row seats and off-roading gear.
The air suspension douses fussy roads and adds adjustability to add 1.7 inches to the Disco’s impressive 11 inches of ground clearance. The adjustable suspension also improves the Discovery’s approach, departure, and breakover angles and its wading depth, wheel articulation, you get the point. It’s worth serious consideration.