Land Rover debuts its next big bet on the brand’s future success at the Paris motor show
Ahead of the 2016 Paris motor show, Land Rover unveiled what it hopes will be its volume seller for well-heeled families on the move: The 2017 Discovery SUV builds on the brand’s recent successes in the critical “not quite a Range Rover” category, the revamp of which began with the compact Evoque and continued with the Discovery Sport.
“Our clear design strategy means our vehicles are instantly recognizable,” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover chief design officer. “The flawless proportions, sophisticated surfaces and precise detailing of the all-new Discovery beautifully combine with engineering integrity to create a premium SUV that will resonate with today’s customers.”
The new Land Rover Discovery follows on the brand’s recent design trends outside and in.
Discovery is also a new nameplate for the U.S., replacing what we know as the aging, boxy LR4 (the fourth-gen Discovery in the rest of the world), a sort-of three-row utility very much in the traditional Defender styling realm. The new Discovery is unmistakably part of the new Land Rover design language — everything in a Land Rover showroom will now appear to be part of the same family.
First, the details: The 2017 Discovery will start at $50,985 when it goes on sale in the U.S. in mid-2017 in both five- and seven-passenger versions. The powertrains will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a Land Rover product recently: An eight-speed automatic transmission is coupled to either a 340-hp/332-lb-ft supercharged 3.0-liter V6 or a 254-hp/443-lb-ft 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. Those engines move the old LR4 along fine; thanks to a heavy dose of aluminum (43 percent of which is recycled), the new Discovery sheds over 1,000 pounds, which should add a lot more sport to the utility equation while also boosting fuel economy. Towing, rated at 8,200 pounds, doesn’t suffer either, and Land Rover borrows a good idea from Ford with Advanced Tow Assist: The technology lets the driver use the rear-facing camera and a rotary controller to back a trailer into position — a tricky maneuver for the inexperienced.
Land Rover’s Terrain Response controller will automatically adjust for driving conditions, or the driver can manually change settings.
Being a Land Rover, all the off-road goodies are present: 11.1 inches of ground clearance and a 35.4-inch wading depth, plus the company’s Terrain Response 2 controller that allows drivers to choose throttle, transmission and traction control settings based on the type of terrain they expect to encounter; there’s also All-Terrain Progress Control, which acts like a low-speed cruise control on traction-challenged surfaces. Air suspension is optional, as is a true two-speed transfer case with selectable high and low ranges.
Inside, basic Discovery trims are configured for five, plus an ample luggage space in the back. When equipped with the available third row, Land Rover claims the Discovery will fit 95th percentile adults comfortably in the rearmost seats (no word on whether that includes 95th percentile Americans); LATCH/ISOFIX mounting points are also provided in both the second and third rows. Total cargo capacity is 82.7 cubic feet, with 45 cubic feet available behind the second row. There are also myriad storage spaces in the front-seat area, including a console capable of holding two 2-liter containers and a cubby big enough for five tablet computers, possibly in an attempt to woo Silicon Valley app developers.
Since technology sells (at least in the mind of automakers), Land Rover has loaded the 2017 Discovery with its much-improved infotainment touchscreen, up to 10 inches across on models with the uplevel InControl Touch Pro system; features include 3G Wi-Fi, available Meridian 17-speaker sound system and as many as six 12-volt outlets and nine (!) USB sockets.
Available gimmicks you can show your neighbors and which you may or may not actually end up using include Intelligent Seat Fold technology, which you might remember from a recent skydiving video. Essentially it lets the driver use a smartphone app to fold or extend second- and third-row seats remotely. There’s also the Activity Key wristband, shared with Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV, that acts as a waterproof wireless key fob remotely locking and unlocking the vehicle by touching the wristband to the “D” in the Discovery badge.
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery luxury SUV replaces the aging LR4 in the U.S. market, bringing a common design language to all the brand’s SUVs.
Finally, for those who simply have to be first, a fully loaded limited “First Edition” model will get unique aluminum interior trim and special badging. Only 529 copies will come to the U.S., but bring money: The First Edition Discovery starts at $74,945.
We’ll bring you a first drive of the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery in the coming months, and stay tuned for all the reveals from the 2016 Paris motor show here.
Land Rover Discovery pricing and trim levels
Discovery SE, gasoline V6: $50,985
Discovery HSE, gasoline V6: $57,945
Discovery HSE, Td6 diesel: $59,945
Discovery HSE Luxury, gasoline V6: $64,945
Discovery HSE Luxury, Td6 diesel: $66,945
Discovery First Edition, gasoline V6: $74,945