What's the used Land Rover Discovery like?
Is there a name more synonymous with large, family-friendly SUVs that really can do it all than the Land Rover Discovery? It’s hard to think of one. Ever since it was introduced, way back in 1989, the Discovery has been a mainstay of middle England, loved in equal measure for its vast amounts of space, go-anywhere ability and useful seven-seat layout.
While those extra seats were an optional extra on early cars, by the time this fifth-generation model came along in 2017, they had become a standard feature – just one way in which the Discovery has had to modernise and adapt through the years in the face of strong competition from cars that it inspired, such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.
The fifth-generation Discovery came with a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines – the SD4 and TD4, with 237bhp and 254bhp respectively – and two petrols, a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo badged Si4 and a 335bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6.
Four equipment levels make up the range, starting with the cheapest S, which gets air conditioning, alloy wheels and a 10in touchscreen; SE comes next, adding electric leather seats (heated in the front), sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. HSE features a panoramic glass roof, heated second-row seats and keyless entry, while top-of-the-range HSE Luxury adds an electric sunroof, heated and cooled seats and four-zone climate control.
So what’s the secret of the Discovery’s success? Well, it all becomes clear the moment you step behind the wheel, from where there’s a terrific sense of impregnability and security. Pull away and the smooth, responsive engines make it feel as though nothing will stop the Discovery, while the tall driving position and excellent visibility give a commanding view of the road.
The standard air suspension gives a delightfully wafty ride; true, on the odd occasion a particularly large divot might make its presence felt via a vague vibration through the car, but the vast majority of the time, progress is serene – an effect amplified by the smooth engines. And while wind and road noise are audible, they aren’t intrusive.
In corners, the Discovery isn’t quite so impressive; while it can be driven briskly along a back road, it doesn’t feel happy about it while you’re doing so. The body flops over if you try to carry too much speed and the slow steering means there’s lots of arm flailing involved. That said, it never feels uncontrolled and there’s always plenty of grip; but this is clearly a car built for comfort rather than speed.
Mind you, it’s one built for practicality. Inside, there’s room for seven adults to sit in comfort – a rare feat even in large SUVs, which often suffer from cramped rearmost seats. Fold those seats down and there’s a cavernous boot to play with, although with them in place you’ll only be able to fit in a few carrier bags of shopping.
What’s more, the Discovery feels terrifically upmarket inside. Granted, the infotainment system is a bit of a letdown because it can be fiddly to use, and there's some cheaper bits of plastic here and there, but most of the materials are smart and there are neat touches everywhere you look, meaning the Discovery’s interior feels more special than most.