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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For Superb off-road; well equipped; spacious

Against Unrefined on the road; dreadful cabin layout

Verdict There are much better alternatives

Go for… Td5 GS

Avoid… V8

Land Rover Discovery 4x4
  • 1. There's plenty of space in the back and it’s extremely impressive off-road
  • 2. Getting into the back is awkward and the ergonomics in the cabin are dreadful
  • 3. Suspension counted for a huge proportion of warranty claims
  • 4. Transmission also accounts for a large amount of warranty claims
  • 5. Five- or seven-seat versions are available; in seven-seat form, the seats face forward
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Land Rover Discovery 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The series II Discovery aged very quickly. When it was launched, it immediately trounced opposition such as the Toyota Landcruiser and Mitsubishi Shogun, but it soon became outdated, its limitations shown up only too clearly by the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class.

That’s not to say it was without its strengths. The Discovery driver has a fantastic view out, there’s plenty of space in the back and it’s extremely impressive off-road.

Equipment levels were also very good, particularly towards the end of its life, and some models had seven seats, making it an alternative to an MPV.

On the other hand, however, getting into the back is awkward, the ergonomics in the cabin are dreadful, and the whole car is sluggish and not particularly enjoyable on the road. A BMW X5 is far better to drive, more refined and simply more comfortable.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Any Td5 model will sell very easily ideally with seven-seat option

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The engine choice is simple – petrol or diesel – but which is best is tricky. We just about favour the diesel for its better fuel economy. However, it's so sluggish that many will prefer the V8 petrol, which is much more up to the job of hauling round such a big, heavy car.

There’s very little difference – and none at all on some models – in price between the five- and seven-seater models, and the extra seats fold neatly out of the way when not needed.

Otherwise, we favour GS trim, one step up from the basic S. This is so well equipped it’s not worth spending any more on the XS or ES (which bring leather trim and a CD ’changer). However, it is worth looking out for a model from after the June 2002 face-lift, when the car was remodelled to look more like the larger Range Rover.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Best of all Land Rovers for reliability - watch suspension and electrics

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Buying a used Discovery is not too painful an experience. It costs pretty much the same as a Jeep Grand Cherokee and much less than a Mercedes M-Class of the same age.

Look at servicing, too, and it’s much the same story: the Discovery looks pretty good next to the likes of the M-Class and Mitsubishi Shogun. It’s a couple of insurance groups lower than the Grand Cherokee, which further helps to keep running costs down. The diesel’s 30mpg also looks perfectly respectable by the standards of big 4x4s, but the V8 petrol returns just 17mpg on the combined cycle, which is well behind rivals from Mitsubishi and Mercedes.

To cap it all, Warranty Direct tells us that, when you need to have repairs done, average Land Rover dealer labour rates are among the highest.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Any Td5 model will sell very easily ideally with seven-seat option

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The good news is that the series II Discovery is much more reliable than most other Land Rovers. However, it’s still below average for its class, although only by a little.

On the positive side, the engines have proven very reliable, but the weak points are the suspension, transmission and electrics, together responsible for over 60% of all claims.

Also worrying for potential Disco drivers is the car’s poor performance in JD Power surveys. Only once has it managed to get into the top 100. Worst of all, the car has consistently scored badly in certain important areas – below par for mechanical reliability and poor for exterior build quality in recent years.

There have been no fewer than 15 recalls on this model, concerning everything from the airbags to the brakes, engine and transmission, so there's plenty to check in the logbook before you buy.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Best of all Land Rovers for reliability - watch suspension and electrics

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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