The Range Rover beget the Range Rover Sport which beget the Range Rover Evoque. Now the Land Rover side to the business is looking for the same kind of magic with the 2017 Land Rover Discovery.
Of course, there is heavy emphasis on off-road chops. The old Discovery (known to Americans as the Land Rover LR4) was pretty impressive in this regard. The new Discovery builds on the outgoing model with a stronger aluminum structure, some weight loss and new technologies to apply power in every situation. You expect this on a Land Rover, and company officials promise it’ll deliver.
But in the crowded field of large three-row luxury SUVs, does the Discovery get the basics right? On the basis of what we’ve seen at the Los Angeles Auto Show, yes.
The Discovery is a full seven-seater, implied by its mammoth appearance. But Land Rover’s engineers really have worked magic to pack seven full-size seats into a package that also has to work in space-challenged parts of the world. It puts some other similarly sized SUVs to shame in this regard.
That said, the absence of the old LR4’s absolute boxiness limits some of the headroom the old one had, especially in the third row, where adults will feel more cramped despite far more comfortable seats. The chairs in pretty much every position are supportive and plush – practically throne-like, which is befitting of more expensive Range Rovers.
Seat-folding aficionados will find much to love in the Discovery. Five individual second- and third-row seats fold electrically via switches scattered around the car, or through the touch screen in the dash. Or even through an app on your iPhone, Android smartphone or Apple Watch. It all may be gimmicky, but the Discovery has the versatility outdoorsy buyers need (or at least the versatility to make them appear outdoorsy).
Even the power tailgate can be configured in multiple ways so it doesn’t bash the kayak you have strapped to the roof, or your low garage or anything like that. Whereas the LR4 had a split tailgate that needed two steps to open, the new Discovery’s is one piece that electrically lifts up. Yet there’s still a divider that flips up to stop your groceries from spilling out. It also lowers to double as a bench or table or baby changing area (probably).
Power comes from either a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 or a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6. Both engines are already seen in bigger Range Rovers and are likely sufficient for the Discovery, which also boasts a 7,700-pound maximum towing rating that should be plenty for most SUV buyers.
The new Discovery should arrive in U.S. Land Rover showrooms by May. Prices are set to start from just below $50,000 and head up to around $73,000. By then, we should see whether it’s not only the most capable Land Rover, but the most capable SUV at the country club.