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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For It's superb off-road and a comfortable cruiser on-road

Against It's expensive to fuel and service

Verdict Nice - if you can afford it

Go for… TDV6 S/SE

Avoid… Thirsty V8s

Land Rover Discovery 4x4
  • 1. The cabin is brilliant: classy design, room for seven, versatile and with great all-round visibility
  • 2. Problems can occur with the air suspension, and the air compressor has been known to fail
  • 3. Prices are a bit steep, and they’re expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future
  • 4. Electrical and software problems have caused trouble, especially on early cars
  • 5. Boot space is limited with seven on board, but the third (and second) rows fold to create a huge load area
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Land Rover Discovery 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Discovery is a real do-it-all-in-style vehicle. It devours miles in easy-going, refined comfort and gobbles mountains like they were molehills.

Most models have air springs and independent suspension, which keep them smooth and forgiving over bumps, but sharp and controlled around corners. Permanent four-wheel drive gives good traction in all conditions and clever electronic off-road aids take the sweat out of negotiating the rough stuff.

Both engines - the 4.4 V8 petrol and the 2.7 V6 turbodiesel - need to be worked to get this heavy car moving at first, but they’re quiet and refined once you're up to speed.

The cabin is simply brilliant: classy design, roomy for seven (although cheaper versions have only five seats), versatile, great all-round visibility and decent kit. Boot space is limited with seven on board, but the third (and second) rows fold to create a huge load-carrying potential.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Top image for about-towners. Top-end HSE tangles with Range Rover values

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

This third-generation Discovery was launched in autumn 2004, and is a dramatic improvement on the previous version.

There are two engines, both based on Jaguar units. The 4.4-litre V8 petrol and 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel are smooth, quiet and lively once up to speed, but they do like a drink. We’d go for the diesel, and one with the optional six-speed auto if possible.

The most basic versions are worth avoiding, as they go without air suspension, have a simplified version of the excellent Terrain Response off-road driving aids and make do with five seats. Seven-seaters will be easier and quicker to flog on later, and the air suspension and full five-mode Terrain Response are well worth having.

S trim is decent value, but SE brings leather seats and desirable goodies, while HSE has all the gizmos and chrome-plated whistles.

When you're shopping, you'll find Land Rover dealers have the best ones and most choice, but try supermarkets, too.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Big demand except for V8 unless priced low, TDV6 prices firm

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Don’t expect the Discovery to be cheap to keep or run. Prices are a bit steep, and they’re expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future. That’s good news, however, because once you’ve taken the financial plunge to buy one, the Discovery will hang on to its value, so when you do sell it on, you’ll recoup a fair chunk of your original outlay.

The bad news is that running costs are hefty. The diesel will only nudge just over 30mpg with gentle driving, and the V8 will struggle to better 20mpg. That’s the price you pay for its 2.5-tonne weight and four-wheel drive.

Servicing, too, will be steep if you’re trading from a BMW X5, but it’s about the same as the current-shape Mercedes M-Class. Insurance is easier to swallow, though - groups 13 to 16 - and cheaper than on the X5 or M-Class.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Top image for about-towners. Top-end HSE tangles with Range Rover values

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The previous incarnation of the Discovery had a woeful reliability record, but this one appears to have gone up a league.

Most owners report few, if any, problems, but some have clearly landed themselves a rogue car. Problems occur with the air suspension, and the air compressor has been known to fail, so that’s certainly worth checking.

Electrical and software problems have also caused trouble, especially on early cars. The symptoms can be wide ranging – cruise control failure, glitches with the satellite-navigation/Bluetooth/hi-fi speakers and problems with the pre-heat facility for the engine and cabin. The electronic parking brake can revert to its fail-safe mode, too.

Generally, these faults are teething troubles on isolated cars, and will have been sorted by the first owner. If not, the chances are you’ll have Land Rover’s three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty to fall back on.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Big demand except for V8 unless priced low, TDV6 prices firm

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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