Test Drive: Land Rover Discovery deftly handles wintery roads
Driving home from work during the Nov. 15 snowstorm, rarely exceeding 15 mph in heavy, slow-moving traffic, we found ourselves wishing fervently for two things.
First, we wished Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had ordered tractor-trailers off the road in advance of the storm, as he sometimes has done in the past, to good effect. Most of the difficulties we encountered on Interstate 84, between Waterbury and Bethel, involved trucks that couldn't mount some of the highway's longer hills.
Second, we wished everyone had the same car we had that day — a 2018 Land Rover Discovery. Utterly unfazed by the weather, the Discovery neither slipped nor skidded through the 22-mile, two-hour commute.
The big Discovery's performance reminded us that Americans may want high fuel economy or sporty handling, but what really turns their heads is potential — their vehicle's ability to remain composed and capable under the worst imaginable conditions. The Discovery is that kind of vehicle.
Of course, that isn't all this British-built sport-utility vehicle has going for it.
Our Discovery, equipped with a V-6 diesel engine packing 254 horsepower, was rated at 21 mpg in the city, 26 highway. Its 11.1-inch ground clearance promises capable performance off road, and it can tow everything most people could imagine they might need — 7,716 pounds' worth. It also has seating for as many as seven passengers, though most of them had better be fairly small in stature and girth. Land Rover has yet to master the principles of efficient use of interior space.
Land Rover slapped the name “Luxury” on the Discovery's model name, and it lives up to its billing. Here's the short list: leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, heated third-row seat, power liftgate, power sunroof in front with rear panoramic roof, power front seats with massage, satellite radio and navigation system. Optional equipment — all standard in the “Luxury” edition — included adaptive cruise control, blind spot and reverse-traffic warning system, roof rails, surround camera and head-up display.
In HSE Luxury trim, the Discovery comes with Land Rover's Terrain Response 2, which enables the car to respond to conditions such as snow, sand, rocks, mud and gravel. The response can be automatic or directed by the driver.
It all adds up to a sticker price of $68,485. For the 2019 model year, the base Discovery starts at $52,300.
The Discovery, previously known as the LR4, can be equipped with a 340-horsepower turbocharged V-6 or the diesel. Land Rover offers three trim levels: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury.
Compared with earlier Discovery models and the LR4, the new Discovery is far more composed, efficient and maneuverable. It's also much more powerful and handles more competently.
Major competitors include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC90. Japanese premium models, such as the Lexus RX350 and Infiniti QX50, offer high levels of luxury but cannot keep up with the Discovery off-road ... or in awful New England weather.
2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury
Price : $68,485
Engine: 3.0-liter V-6 diesel, 254 horsepower, 443 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 4,916 lb.
Suspension: 4-wheel independent
Ground clearance: 11.1 in.
Wheels: 21-in. 10-split-spoke style alloy
Tires: 272/45R21 all-season
Seating capacity: 7
Luggage capacity: 9.1 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 85 cu. ft.
Maximum towing capacity: 7,716 lb.
Fuel capacity: 22.5 gal.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel type: diesel
Steven Macoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.