£41,600 - £59,970 Price range
The Land Rover Discovery 4 is a luxury SUV that is praised for its build quality and off-road ability. Its main rivals are the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Mercedes M-Class and the Volkswagen Touareg. A less bulky alternative is the new Discovery Sport that also has seven seats (as an option).
Prices start from £41,600 and if you buy your new Discovery using carwow you can save £2,710 on average.
The Discovery interior is a truly luxurious place to spend time in. The build quality is superb and the overall feel is of longevity and robustness. As an option you can spec the dashboard to be wrapped in leather and that truly makes for a premium atmosphere in the cabin. As you can probably tell by the its shape, the Discovery is pretty spacious inside and even the third row of seats can be used by adults. When all the seats are folded down the Discovery can double as a very luxurious van.
Driving a three-tonne high-riding SUV will never be nimble and engaging, but the Discovery is not as tarmac focused as its rivals and as a result is much more capable off-road than any of them, except the Land Cruiser. The Discovery tends to lean in corners quite a bit due to the less stiff suspension, but the trade off is exceptional ride quality.
Only one engine choice is available for the Discovery – a 3.0-litre diesel that complements the character of the SUV to such extent, that any other engine will be worse off. The SDV6 is quiet, refined and with the help of the modern eight-speed automatic it’s reasonably fast while still returning good gas milage.
The entry-level SE model comes with air suspension, automatic gearbox, rear parking sensors, heated windshield and cruise control. That is an impressive amount of standard equipment, but that is what you expect from an expensive SUV like the Discovery.
Cheapest to buy: 3.0-litre SE diesel
Cheapest to run: 3.0-litre SE diesel
Fastest model: 3.0-litre SE diesel
Most popular: 3.0-litre HSE diesel
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.
Land Rover Discovery passenger space
There’s loads of space 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.
Land Rover Discovery boot space
The boot space is a reasonable 280 litres when all the chairs are in use, and an absolutely massive 1,950 litres 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. With 442 lb ft of pulling power, the engine has no problem moving the heavy SUV around and will make towing effortless.
The critics also thought that, for its sheer bulk, the Disco had very good performance and fuel economy – 0-62mph is achieved in under nine seconds and the fuel economy is a not-too-bad 36.7mpg, 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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