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2019 Land Rover 1104 Discovery 31608 401866
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Introduction

The Land Rover Discovery is the flag-carrier for British SUVs not named Range Rover. A descendant of decades of Landies, the 2019 Discovery retains its reputation for incredible off-road capabilities of its forerunners, only with heavy doses of refinement and a more contemporary shape.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has been made standard for the 2019 model year. Infotainment systems get an updated interface and layout. Base SE trim gains LED headlights, a power tailgate, and active lane control. Also new is a wade-sensing system, available for HSE and HSE Luxury versions, which gives water-depth information in real time.

SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury trim levels are offered, each available with either a gasoline or diesel V-6 engine. Most Discoverys get a supercharged, 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 that produces an ample 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough for acceleration to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, weighed against a substantial thirst for fuel.

Fuel efficiency is better from the optional turbodiesel, rated at 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 7.7 seconds, but even diesel models aren’t exactly thrifty.

With either, the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission provides smooth, smart, effortless shifts. It’s finely tuned for nearly-imperceptible performance.

All Discovery SUVs have four-wheel drive. Some come with a locking rear differential and two-speed transfer case.

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the current Discovery.

All Discovery models now come with automatic high beams, parking sensors, and LED headlights. Some versions get blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warnings with full-speed automatic emergency braking. A surround-view camera system is available, and worth the cost for off-road treks. A head-up display also is optional.

Model Lineup

Prices do not include $1,025 destination charge.

SE Supercharged ($52,950) has a 340-horsepower gasoline V-6 and comes with 12-way power front seats, five-passenger seating, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, 19-inch wheels, navigation, 10-speaker audio, and an 8-inch touchscreen. An option group includes automatic emergency braking.

HSE Supercharged ($59,700) adds 20-inch wheels, premium 380-watt Meridian audio, a 10-inch touchscreen, heated steering wheel, two-section sunroof, and three-zone climate control. Safety features include blind-spot monitors, high-speed emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

HSE Luxury Supercharged ($67,200) gets an air suspension, low-range transfer case, three rows of seats, power-folding third row, heated second-row seats, finer leather, memory seating, and 14-speaker, 825-watt audio.

SE Td6 Diesel V-6 ($54,950) is equipped similar to gas SE above, but with turbodiesel engine.

HSE Td6 Diesel V-6 ($61,700) is equipped similar to gas HSE, but with turbodiesel engine.

HSE Luxury Td6 Diesel V-6 ($69,200) is similar to gas HSE Luxury, but with turbodiesel engine.

Walkaround

Land Rover’s Discovery is considerably smoother than rigidly-angled predecessors. It substitutes contemporary sleekness for a traditionally stodgy SUV appearance. A narrow front end leads into comparatively plain bodysides.

Pulling back the relatively small grille helped minimize front-end size. Though less boxy in its current form, the Discovery retains a familiar upright stance, topped by a tall roof.

Interior

Suave and spacious, the well-trimmed cabin appears practical if somewhat spartan. Considering its price and purpose, though, the Discovery is downright lavish.

Inside, the Discovery is more upright and traditional than its body sheetmetal might suggest. Tall, wide windows and a choice of two sunroof types help open the cabin to natural light.

Front passengers can expect all-day comfort from multi-adjustable seats. Unlike predecessors, second-row seats don’t rise higher than the fronts, expanding headroom.

The HSE Luxury trim includes more off-road gear, plus a third-row seat that power-folds, leaving a flat cargo floor. Even so, it’s usable only by small occupants.

Wood and soft leather join to create a club-like atmosphere. Off-road purists, of course, might be disappointed by the level of lushness inside.

Cargo volume behind the third row (if installed) is a mere 9.1 cubic feet. Behind the second row, space expands to 45 cubic feet ΓÇô reaching 82.7 with those seats folded.

Driving Impressions

At 4,900 pounds or so, the Discovery is a heavy vehicle ΓÇô but doesn’t drive like one. On paved surfaces, it becomes a refined crossover that combines decent steering with a quietly composed ride ΓÇô far removed from experiences in its predecessors.

With the gasoline V-6, acceleration is moderate. Peak torque doesn’t emerge until the engine reaches 3,500 rpm. Pushing hard on the gas pedal can prod the Discovery into reasonably brisk action. Fortunately, the 8-speed automatic works impressively.

On the top HSE Luxury model, a batch of off-road equipment is standard, including an air suspension. With that suspension installed, the Discovery can raise itself above the customary 8.1-inch ground clearance, reaching 11.1 inches. An air-sprung model also benefits from better damping, to improve the ride. Able to smother the worst bumps and holes on back roads, it can climb over rocks and branches without tossing passengers around.

Options for more extreme off-roading include a locking rear differential and a drive-mode selector that’s programmed for snow, rocks, sand, and mud.

For better off-road power and greater fuel efficiency, Land Rover offers the turbodiesel. Acceleration isn’t much different from the gas-engine model, as engine torque peaks just above idle speed. Though quiet and admirably torquey, the turbodiesel runs out of breath at higher engine speeds.

Fuel economy varies by engine. The supercharged gasoline V-6 is EPA-rated at 16/21 mpg City/Highway, 18 Combined. With the turbodiesel, estimates climb to 21/26/23 mpg.

Summary

Luxury and technology work together effectively in the latest Land Rover Discovery, which clings to its off-roading roots despite a more modern profile and greater refinements. Prices are steep, but few rivals can match a Land Rover’s off-road prowess. The best bet may be the HSE edition, with better front seats, though the additional off-road gear ΓÇô including a two-speed transfer case ΓÇô packed into HSE Luxury trim may be irresistible.

 

Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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2019 Land Rover Discovery
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