Goodbye LR4, Hello Again, Discovery
After 27 years and four generations, the Land Rover Discovery has undergone an existential transformation.
The changes to the fifth-generation model are myriad, but the greatest happens where you can’t see it: The old truck-based workhorse is out to pasture, and a new unibody SUV has taken up the mantle.
The steel-ladder frame is gone, replaced with Land Rover’s all-aluminum unibody platform. The changes in material and design have cut roughly 1,000 pounds (453.6 kg) off the curb weight, which would put it around 4,700 pounds (2131.9 kg) based on the last LR4 we tested.
With the Discovery having so much less weight to drag around, we expect significantly better performance and fuel economy from the carryover 3.0-liter V-6, which is still supercharged and still pumps out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. New for the Discovery (aka LR4) is Land Rover’s 3.0-liter diesel V-6, which produces 254 horsepower and a stout 443 lb-ft of torque. Both are paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic and, properly equipped, tow up to 8,200 pounds (3719.5 kg), an improvement of nearly 300 pounds (136.1 kg).
Lest you think the Discovery has softened in its evolution, consider that its ground clearance has improved 1.7 inches to 11.1 inches and its fording depth has improved by 7.9 inches to 35.4 inches. Naturally, the Discovery is loaded with all of Land Rover’s latest high-tech off-road features, including the latest Terrain Response 2 multiprogram off-road system and All-Terrain Progress Control (it shares this with the Jaguar F-Pace), which is effectively low-speed cruise control for off-road. The Discovery also features Advanced Tow Assist, which allows you to back a trailer using the Terrain Response rotary controller rather than steering wheel.
The additional capability is matched by improved livability. The Disco itself is 5.5 inches longer, which improves third-row and cargo space. The new Discovery comes loaded with six 12-volt charge points, up to nine USB plugs, a 3G Wi-Fi hot spot, and an optional 10.0-inch infotainment screen with the enormously improved InTouch software. Other handy features include the Activity Key wristband, borrowed from the Jaguar F-Pace; it allows you to lock your key in the car and unlock it later by touching a waterproof wristband to the D in the Discovery tailgate badging. Also available: Intelligent Seat Fold technology, which allows you to fold any of the second- or third-row seats from a smartphone app or the infotainment screen.
You’ll enjoy additional interior space while you play with all the gizmos, too. The stretch has allowed Land Rover to design the third-row seats for 95th-percentile humans while maintaining “theater seating,” which elevates each row above the preceding row for better forward visibility. Getting in and out is a little easier thanks to an automatic kneeling function, which drops the optional air suspension 1.5 inches when parked.
You can enjoy a bit of indoor/outdoor space, as well. Although a boring old liftgate replaces the two-piece tailgate/hatch, Land Rover has engineered a powered flap in the cargo area that can stand straight up to act as a divider or flip out over the bumper to act as an 11-inch bench, like the old lower tailgate.
The all-new Land Rover Discovery will go on sale in mid-2017 starting at $50,985 USD.