Auto review: Land Roverís 5th-generation Discovery excels either on or off the beaten track

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 25, 2018

       

The Discovery 2018 is a full-size SUV with an endless sense of adventure, capable of seating five or seven.

Land Rover introduced its fifth generation Discovery model for 2017, neatly filling a gap between utility and refinement with luxurious versatility since 1989.

The Discovery 2018 is a full-size SUV with an endless sense of adventure, capable of seating five or seven.

Discovery brings the latest connectivity technologies, innovative storage solutions, on/off-road capability, new design options, expanded powertrain availability, new technology features and enhancements to driver-assistance systems.

The strong, light Land Rover SUV architecture delivers comfort and adaptability, while passengers stay connected and confident with smart technology features. Up to eight mobile devices can now be connected to the onboard 4G Wi-Fi to enhance passengersí digital connectivity.

For 2018, Discovery brings InControl Touch Pro with a 10-inch touch screen, the most advanced multimedia system Land Rover has ever offered, now standard on all models.

The touch screen supports swipe and pinch gestures and is fully customizable. Natural voice control is also supported. With 10GB of solid-state drive dedicated to music storage and enabling Gracenote album art, InControl Touch Pro delivers a rich audio-visual experience.

InControl services and applications connect the driver to the vehicle and the outside world through features such as Protect, Navigation Pro, Remote Premium, Pro Services and Wi-Fi Hotspot, InControl Apps, InControl Touch, InControl Touch Pro and InControl Secure. Services include vehicle location, SOS Emergency Call, cutting-edge navigation with 2-D and 3-D maps, smartphone integration and much more.

The second-generation optional Head-Up display is all new with more functionality and a new full-color display, and is available on HSE and HSE Luxury models for $970.

HSE and HSE Luxury models now have as standard a 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display with high-resolution, which can be personalized (in conjunction with the Touch Pro system), in the instrument cluster with exceptionally clear 3-D graphics.

Previously optional Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection in now standard on all models. The feature detects pedestrians as well as vehicles and provides braking assistance up to 37 mph, while alerting the driver with visual and audible warnings. Full emergency braking will be applied in the case of an unavoidable collision at speeds as low as 3 mph and up to 50 mph.

Three models are available: SE, $52,090; HSE, $58,490; and HSE Luxury, $65,490 for models with a 340-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline V-6.

A powerful and efficient Td6 diesel engine is now available for all models, delivering 254 horsepower from a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6. Paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission (with rotary shifter and paddle shifters), the Td6 offers strong performance and increased fuel efficiency over gas models. The Td6 engine adds $2,000 to the base price.

EPA estimates for 2017 were 16 mpg city/21 highway for 3.0-liter gas models, and 21/26 for diesel models. EPA estimates for 2018 are unavailable at this time.

Discovery has lots of features to assist in towing, off-roading and everyday driving on hilly terrain and/or in inclement weather. Rear Height Assist allows the driver to raise or lower the rear of the vehicle to make hitching a trailer simple, while Hitch Assist uses trajectory lines on the touch screen to aid in precise backing. Trailer Stability Assist detects trailer sway and reduces the speed of the vehicle to restore control.

Gradient Acceleration Control monitors speed during steep climbs for a controlled ascent; Hill Descent Control maintains a constant speed downhill, applying braking separately to each wheel; Hill Launch Assist/Hill Start Assist aids the driver in pulling away on hills by holding the brake long enough for the driverís foot to move from brake to throttle.

Roll Stability Control senses and counteracts lateral G forces during quick turns or evasive maneuvers by reducing engine power and braking the front wheels, forcing them to lose traction and slide forward. Cornering Brake Control helps maintain control in curves at high speeds by selectively braking to help reduce understeer, keeping the vehicle in the lane. Dynamic Stability Control helps the driver regain control if a lack of grip or stability is detected, braking the appropriate wheel or wheels and modulating engine output.

My Discovery HSE Td6 was Loire Blue (dark metallic, $710), one of six metallic exteriors including Corris Gray and new Byron Blue (light icy). Twelve exterior colors are available ó standard Fuji White and Narvik Black; and four Premium Metallic hues for $1,525, including Namib Orange (burnt) and Carpathian (dark gray). Narvik Black trimmed the silver two-bar grille, front vents, headlight housing, fender badging, mirror caps, window surround, pillars, rear spoiler, liftgate and liftgate badging. Silver Painted Roof Rails added $410 and thin LED fog lights added $105

Eight wheel choices are available, 20 and 21 inches, priced to $1,735, with five, nine or 10 spokes, Silver Painted, Gloss Black, Diamond Turned and Satin Dark Gray. My wheels were 20-inch Silver split 10-spokes for $510.

A panoramic electric sunroof with tilt/slide front glass and fixed rear glass had power blinds. A powered gesture tailgate and powered inner tailgate operated with the kick of a foot under the corner of the bumper when the smart key was within range.

The interior was Vintage Tan Windsor leather with Ebony piping, door panels, pillars, dash, carpet and headliner, which added $360. The interior group included 14-way power front seat, driver seat memory, front seat lumbar support, driverís seat-mounted armrest and second-row center armrest with two cupholders.

Four interior trim choices are offered, some with caveats and restrictions on available options ó one aluminum and three wood. My trim was Natural Shadow Oak with Gloss Black and Brushed Metal accents on the center stack/console, door handles, shifter, air vents, speaker surrounds and steering wheel. High Gloss Charcoal Oak adds $615.

Seven seats, included in a $2,195 package along with a two-speed transfer case (high/low range, "shift on the move," for challenging off-road driving and extreme towing), and electronic air suspension, allows seven adults to travel in comfort in full-sized seats.

The third row had a head air bag, map lights and a 12-volt power outlet. The second-row passenger side seat (60/40 split) folded and slid forward for access to the third row. A smallish, nimble adult or a child could easily enter. Placing a child seat, however, might be a challenge.

Remote Intelligent Seat Fold ($1,095) included power-fold seatbacks in all positions and a 60/40 split second row with manual slide and power recline. Seatbacks folded using switches in the cargo area, the main touch screen, or a smartphone app. If a seat is occupied or blocked in some way, the system senses and makes necessary adjustments. Folding the third row takes as little as 12 seconds, the second row as little as 15 seconds.

Electronic air suspension keeps Discovery stable, even in the toughest situations, and even switches heights seamlessly when necessary.

The Seven Seat Luxury Climate Comfort Package ($3,900) brought heated washer jets, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front and rear seats, heated third-row seats, heated windshield and four-zone climate control ó separate climate controls for driver, front passenger and each side of the rear cabin, with multiple outlets at face, foot and hip level. Two 12-volt power sockets in the second row added $105.

There was lots of storage including a sizable cubby behind the touch screen (it tilts up to access the cubby), a deep bin under the center armrest, a hidden bin with a 12-volt outlet under the sliding cupholders on the center console and a secondary upper glove compartment with a 12-volt outlet.

There were at least five power outlets throughout the cabin. A retractable, removable cargo cover added $155. Discovery has a total of 88.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded and 43.5 cubic feet with the second row in place.

A Meridian Surround Sound System added $870, and produced 825watts through 14 speakers and included Meridianís Trifield technology for the very best world-class audio reproduction.

A Capacity Plus Package for $1,275 brought an active rear locking differential to deliver traction and stability in any off-road situation: Terrain Response 2 for the first time in Discovery, to achieve the best possible chassis and powertrain setup for the terrain by monitoring driving conditions; and All Terrain Progress Control to maintain a steady speed in challenging conditions and pull away smoothly, even in low traction conditions.

My Discovery had front and rear tow hooks under removable covers, which blended into the charcoal body cladding, and a tow eye incorporated into the Towing Hitch with Electrical Connector ($665).

Advanced Tow Assist ($410) allows the driver to control the direction of the trailer when reversing using the rotary Terrain Response 2 controller on the center console and guide lines on the 10-inch touchscreen ó the system steers the vehicle, the driver operates the brake and throttle.

A Vision Assist Package ($1,020) added auto-dimming exterior mirrors, surround camera system and LED headlights with LED signature high beam assist. Turn signals utilized the distinctive signature Daytime Running Lamps "lightpipe," turning from white to orange when used.

Drive Pro added $2,400 and brought a Driver Condition Monitor (warns a drowsy/fatigued driver to take a break), Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limiter (displays traffic signs in the instrument cluster/HUD, alerts the driver when speed limit changes, even adjusting speed if necessary) and Lane Keep Assist.

Lane Departure Warning ($130) gave a visual alert and gently vibrated the steering wheel when my Discovery drifted out of the lane.

The Parking Aid ($285) provided a 360-degree exterior view on the touch screen. An Activity Key ($410) had a waterproof rubber wristband and could be worn while swimming, fishing or, hiking instead of carrying the key fob. Activity Key locks the doors and deactivates the key fob, which can be left in the vehicle.

My Land Rover Discovery was very comfortable, attractive, versatile and easy to drive. Being a diesel, engine sound was evident, but not overly loud.

Acceleration was either hesitant or "jack rabbit" with apparently no middle ground, depending on how aggressively I pressed the pedal. Braking could be a little abrupt as well.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in the Discovery. With $17,980 in options, my tester was well equipped for daily driving or off-road use, although I didnít get the chance to go off road.

The total delivered price, with $995 destination charges, was $79,465.