£41,595 - £59,965 Price range
The Land Rover Discovery 4 is a car that many critics love – quite a few of them have given it the perfect score, which is mightily impressive!
It does have its fair share of problems, but overall the Discovery is one of the finest luxury SUVs on sale today. Its replacement will have a lot to live up to.
Before that car arrives, buyers now have the option of Land Rover’s Discovery Sport. This more-upmarket replacement for the old Freelander, like the larger Discovery, comes with seven seats (as an option). This means it could be ideal for families who don’t want a car as large or as expensive as the regular Discovery.
2014 carwow best 4×4 award
If you had one car to do everything with – the Land Rover Discovery could be it. It’s our favourite 4×4 because, on top of being able to traverse the toughest terrain off-road, it’s luxurious, comfortable, refined and fast on it.
Land Rover is now positioned in the marketplace as a premium brand, so it’s no surprise that the Disco has a very high quality cabin, especially on the top spec HSE models, and all models get a new multimedia touchscreen interface in the dashboard. There’s loads of storage spaces up front, and there’s acres of room in the rear, though one tester did state that the legroom was a bit restrictive.
Even the two seats at the very back are suitable for adults, though getting to them isn’t that easy. The boot space is reasonable when all the chairs are in use, and absolutely massive once the middle and rear rows have been folded down.
Being a high-riding SUV that weighs nearly three tonnes, the Discovery isn’t going to be the sharpest car in its class to drive, with noticeable body roll in the bends hinting at its vast mass. However, most of the critics thought it had very good road manners, with relatively sharp steering and exceptional ride quality and refinement.
It’ll never be a great point-to-point car, unless the journey happens to be in a straight line across terrain. As expected from a Land Rover, the Discovery is brilliant off-road, and far more capable in the rough stuff than its street-orientated rivals.
The Disco’s huge size does make it fairly tricky to navigate in towns, but there’s fairly good visibility and it comes with cameras mounted in the front bumpers, which helps with parking manoeuvres.
There’s currently only one engine on sale, the SDV6. It got an update for the 2012 Discovery and is exceptionally refined, and comes with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. The critics also thought that, for its sheer bulk, the Disco had very good performance and fuel economy, though VED (tax) will cost £280 a year – with a £620 bill for year one!
The new SDV6 is currently the only engine on sale, and the engine updates for the 2012 model year only enhance what is already a very excellent power plant. It’s mostly just nip ‘n’ tuck, but that’s more than enough to ensure the SDV6 remains a modern diesel engine.
Compared with the previous unit, power is up from 242 to 252 bhp, and CO2 outputs are now down to a fairly impressive 230g/km. It doesn’t bring the Disco into a lower tax band than before, it's still £445 a year in tax, but the claimed 32 mpg does mean it’s more slightly more fuel efficient than before.
Overall, the changes, though minor, do add more to the Disco’s appeal. It’s not exactly the cheapest car in its class to buy and run, but if your pockets are deep enough, it’s certainly a very enticing ownership prospect.
This engine is no longer on sale, it was replaced with the new SDV6.
Compared with the new power plant, this unit isn’t quite as powerful, though there’s still a very healthy twist of torque in the lower rev range.
In reality, both engines are brilliant, especially with the new eight-speed automatic. If you’re willing to fork out a bit more in running costs, then the extra power from the SDV6 motor may be worth the financial outlay. However, there really isn’t that much between them, and the extra efficiency of the TDV6 certainly makes the Disco a more appealing package for the more cash-strapped buyer.
This generation of Discovery hasn’t actually been tested by EuroNCAP, but it’s not tremendously far removed from the Discovery 3. That car didn’t acquit itself too well in 2009, rating only 4 stars for adult and child occupant safety and a paltry one star for pedestrian friendliness – probably not too surprisingly.
While the car has been effectively in production since 2004, albeit with an update and a facelift in the middle, Land Rover hasn’t stood still on safety and a new range of airbags – including full length curtain airbags – and electronic aids adorn the 2014 car. We can’t draw any conclusion as to how the car would test, but it’s a far better proposition now than it was a decade ago despite more stringent testing routines.
The Discovery certainly isn’t the cheapest car you’ll ever come across, especially in HSE trim, but the impressive standard equipment, high build quality and off-road talents do help justify the premium. It’s also significantly cheaper than its less practical bigger brother, the Range Rover.
However, it is quite expensive to run, and if you can live without the luxurious furnishings and desirable badge, there are some rivals that offer a similar package for much less money.
The Land Rover Discovery is comfortably one of the best SUVs out there. The engines are punchy and refined, there’s enough space on offer for seven people and it’s phenomenal off-road.
It’s not the cheapest car in the world to buy or run, and some of its competitors do have slightly better road manners, but very few can match the Discovery’s broad range of abilities. If you can afford such a car, we thoroughly recommend it, the Discovery 4 is one of the very best 4x4s on sale.
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