Land Rover: Re-Discovering the Discovery

By Sue Mead, April 22nd, 2017

Re-engineered and re-designed, the 2017 Discovery brings more capability and technology to Land Rover's full-size SUV family.

The premium SUV gets the aluminum body and steel underframe of its bigger stablemates, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Like them, the Discovery is penned with more curvaceous lines and keeps a softened version of the clamshell hood, slightly stepped rooftop, and back end and, yet, still bears a strong resemblance to its original iconic looks.

It can seat five or up to seven; its seats can even be raised and lowered by using an app on your phone. Longer and wider, it has optimized headroom for rear riders with the slightly raised roofline, while good visibility for all is enhanced by the cabin's stadium-seating design.

Joining the distinctive sculpted surfaces and raked windshield are jewel-like headlamps and new daytime running lights that create a striking light signature. At the back, new horizontal LED rear lamps add a sportier appearance, along with the one-piece tailgate that has a larger opening for loading/unloading. The full hatch provides shelter from the elements when open and a new rear spoiler brings improved aerodynamics.

An InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen is positioned high on the center console with easy-to-navigate menus for NAV and entertainment technologies including door-to-door navigation that can share directions to a paired smartphone to help owners complete a journey on foot.

The 2017 Land Rover Discovery starts at $49,990, has two engine choices, and comes in three trims (SE, HSE and HSE Luxury); a First Edition up-level version is available for the first 527 hand raisers for $73,950.

A 3.0L supercharged V-6 gas engine gets 340 horsepower with 332 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.0L turbocharged V-6 diesel produces 254-horsepower and 443 lb.-ft.; both are matched to an eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters. Fuel economy is 16/21 mpg city/highway and 18 mpg combined for the gasoline and 21/26/23 for the diesel. It has a towing capacity of 8,201 pounds (gas) and 7,716 lbs. (diesel) with a number of advanced towing technologies.

A two-speed transfer case brings high and low range gears; the "intelligent" system allows a standard 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels. A full-time 4WD system automatically sends torque to the axle with the most grip. An All-Terrain Progress Control system can be programmed to maintain a crawl speed selected by the driver and enhances starting from a standstill on slippery or low traction terrain. Other on/off-road technologies include Hill Descent Control, Electronic Traction Control, Roll Stability Control, and Gradient Release Control.

We drove the 2017 Discovery over a course of approximately 450 miles in southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona on a wide assortment of roads and backcountry tracks ranging from dirt trails and sand washes to highly technical four-wheeling. The new model drives lighter and tighter -- and it should. Discovery's diet of 85 percent high-strength aluminum and other light-weighting tricks have reduced its weight by more than 1,000 pounds. It is also stronger with an improved crash structure and structural integrity.

We enjoyed the peppiness of the gas engine and the quietness of the diesel, the smooth-shifting transmission, and the "sport" mode for more spirited driving. The Discovery's urbanized looks belie its exceptional off-road competency that carried us over hill and dale, and across extreme terrain. Laudable are the 11.14 inches of ground clearance; a 34-degree approach, 30-degree departure, and 27.5 degrees break-over angles; 19.7 inches of wheel articulation; and 35.4 inches of wading depth.

Land Rover says the new Discovery is the most all-terrain-capable ever, thanks to a combination of excellent off-road drivetrain mechanics, available air suspension, vehicle geometry, and advanced driver assistance technologies. We agree.

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