The 2018 Land Rover Discovery full-size entry for customers that want extreme off-road ability with an ample dose of British refinement and luxury but aren't ready for a Range Rover. Proudly wearing a name badge that is synonymous for overland exploration, the new Discovery forgoes the tall, boxy shape of the older versions for better aerodynamics and on-road vehicle dynamics. But it remains an incredibly spacious and luxurious large SUV with room for seven fully grown adults in a cabin that's as well-appointed as ever. Customers get a choice of two engines, a gas-powered turbocharged V6 or a V6 turbodiesel with oodles of torque.

Regardless of engine, the Discovery remains a highly capable off-road vehicle with a plethora of both electronic and mechanical bits that make it capable of tackling almost anything you throw at it, from rock crawling and river fording to snow and sand.

Best Value

The best value in the Discovery range is with the mid-level HSE trim. While the base level SE trim is well equipped, the HSE adds three-zone climate control, 16-way adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, and upgraded lighting. Between the two engine choices, we'd have to go with the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, because it's substantially quicker, it can tow up to 7,700 pounds, it's quieter, and it gets much better fuel economy than the gas engine.

The Seven Seat Package is a must-have as it adds not just two more seats, but air suspension and a two-speed transfer case that's practically required for off-roading. We'd also get the Capability Plus Package for more off-road goodies like a locking rear differential, All Terrain Progress Control, and what Land Rover calls Terrain Response 2, a system that monitors the surface you're driving over and automatically adapts to provide the best traction (it also provides several presets drivers can choose for themselves).

In terms of pure comfort gear, we recommend the $1,275 Cold Climate Package for its heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and heated windshield washer jets. The $565 Drive Package's blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert are a good deal too.

With these options, you can drive to the nearest off-road trail with seven of your friends and laugh at the spartan $41,000 Wrangler Rubicons that are only marginally more capable than the Discovery, all while riding in serene comfort. Who said off-roading had to be difficult, right?

Here's how we'd have the Disco:

  • Model: 2018 Land Rover Discover HSE
  • Engine: 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
  • Output: 254 hp/ 443 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 26 Hwy (Speculated)
  • Options: 3.0-liter LR-TD6 Diesel ($2,000), Seven Seat Package ($2,195, Seven Seats, Electronic Air Suspension, Two-Speed Transfer Case), Black Exterior Package ($310), Capability Plus Package ($1,275, Active Locking Rear Differential, Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control), Cold Climate Package ($1,275, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated washer jets), Drive Package ($565, Drive Condition Monitor, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition)
  • Base Price:$61,485 (including $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$65,520

Performance

Land Rover Discover

The Discovery comes with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 you'll find throughout the Jaguar Land Rover range, which puts out 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The second is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 254 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are quite competent, but the diesel is faster, quieter, and gets better fuel economy, while also offering most of it's power low in the rev range making it the better choice for rocky trails. It's well worth the cost to upgrade.

Like the old Discos, the new Discovery is still wildly capable off road. In fact, it quite possibly could be the best off-road capable SUV you can buy in the US outside of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The optional air suspension is a must have, as it gives the Discovery over 11 inches of ground clearance, which allows the luxurious and comfortable Landie to offer a 34-degree approach angle, a 27.5-degree breakover angle, a 30-degree departure angle and the ability to ford up to 35 inches of water. For a comparison, the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon has a breakover angle of only 21.5 degrees, an inch less of ground clearance, and it can only ford 30 inches of water, which means the Disco can outperform the Wrangler on some terrain.

On road, the Discovery's off-road roots shine through. It's not quite as comfortable or composed as some of its competitors, with its soft off-road suspension and tall body reacting more noticeably to imperfections and bumps in the road. There's more roll through corners, too. These are minor quibbles, particularly when a vehicle is so capable on the trails.

Style

Unfortunately, the latest Discovery doesn't look like the Disco we fell in love with. It's not as boxy or tall, and it's missing the old "Alpine" windows that once turned the rear into a greenhouse. Times marches onward, and these days it's more important to be fuel efficient than it is to be stylish. Unfortunately, this smoothing of the edges makes the Discovery look like a generic large SUV instead of standing out like the previous generations. The untrained eye would probably confuse it with a Ford Explorer.

Inside, the Discovery has a range of handsome materials, and the interior is bathed in natural light like the Discos of old thanks to two large sunroofs. It comes well equipped at all trims with a choice of leather seating, while two-, three-, or four-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a wireless internet hotspot, heated seats for all three rows and more is available as optional extras.

The Discovery is incredibly comfortable in all three rows. The second row has plenty of legroom and can be made to recline, heat and ventilate, and the third row was designed to fit two tall adults comfortably according to Land Rover. The Discovery has practicality in droves with extensive storage options, lots of cargo space with seats folded, in addition to a ton of little things that cost extra like a waterproof key you can wear like a watch, and the ability to fold the seats remotely via your smart phone.

The Best and Worst Things

The Discovery's greatest strength is its off-road prowess. The things that it can do are really incredible and completely unexpected in a world of watered down crossovers, and the fact that it can go anywhere while also being luxurious is even more of a testament.

The biggest disappointment has to be the exterior styling. While it looks good, it doesn't stand out the way its predecessors did.

Right For? Wrong For?

Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery is perfect for anyone with a family who wants to seriously explore the beaten path without sacrificing on-road handling abilities or the niceties of a luxury SUV. The Disco is better for overland expeditions, as opposed to rock climbing trails (although the right driver can get it down such a trail without too much difficulty). You'll have a comfortable ride over long distances and have plenty of room for supplies.

If you're looking for something more conspicuous to show off your wealth, you'll want to look elsewhere. Consider a Range Rover or Mercedes G-Class.

The Bottom Line

This Discovery may not look like the previous generations, but it still get's the formula right. It's a highly capable off-road vehicle that manages to be luxurious, comfortable, and practical. It's a great vehicle that will do almost everything you could ask of it and more.