The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a new addition to the Land Rover stable, offering a compact size, family friendliness and Land Rover’s legendary off-road capability.
Completely new for 2015, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a two- or three-row SUV that seeks to balance family ergonomics with the expected off-road capability that Land Rover is well known for. For the most part, this SUV succeeds in that mission, offering a very capable mix of both, along with a good road presence whether there is a trail or not. In size and function, the Discovery Sport fits in between the Land Rover LR2 and the larger LR4.
Although larger Land Rovers may have better prowess when the trail gets rough, the Discovery Sport holds its own in most situations and can be pitted against any rival in that regard. On the road, the Discovery Sport truly shows itself superior to many of the bigger Land Rover models with a strong sense of balance and a well-mannered ride. For families, the third row is suitable for children and cargo space is ample. Interior accoutrements are what you would expect of a Land Rover, no matter the model.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is available in three trim levels: SE HSE and HSE Lux. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine, nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard on all models. Seating is for five or seven, depending on whether the third-row option is present.
The Discovery Sport is a mix of new SUV styling and old-world off-road sturdiness. Hints of the Land Rovers that made the brand famous are still there, but they have been softened to give the Discovery Sport a more modern feel. Land Rover’s current design language emphasizes sportiness, though the Discovery Sport is not as ostentatious as the Range Rover Evoque.
The base SE trim has 18-inch wheels as standard. A Vision Assist package adds xenon headlamps, LED running lights, and fog lamps.
The HSE trim upgrades to 19-inch wheels and a panoramic glass roof. The HSE Lux adds trim-specific badging to the exterior.
The interior of the 2015 Discovery Sport is built with quality materials throughout. Entry and exit are good for the class, and second-row passengers will be pleasantly surprised at the leg- and headroom offered in the Discovery Sport. Still, the third row is cramped and suitable only for children. Access to the third row is also somewhat restricted, though the second row does fold forward easily.
Cargo space is good, with 27.7 cubic feet available with the rear seats in use and up to 60 cubic feet of space overall.
The base Land Rover Discovery Sport comes with seating for five and a host of equipment that includes automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, sliding and reclining second-row seats and Bluetooth connectivity.
The base SE model can have the third-row option added, which also adds third-row air vents. The mid-level HSE trim adds a panoramic glass roof and wood or aluminum trim. The HSE Lux upgrades that with upgraded premium leather seating and a navigation system with satellite radio.
The 2015 Discovery Sport is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 240 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic transmission with steering-mounted paddle shifters is standard, as is all-wheel drive and Land Rover’s Terrain Response System.
The EPA estimates that the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport achieves 22 mpg combined, with 20/26 mpg city/highway. Our real-world driving for a week confirmed those numbers as achievable if sporty and off-road driving are minimized. With proper equipment, the Discovery Sport is rated to tow just over 4,400 pounds.
Off the road or in inclement weather, the Terrain Response System will prove itself invaluable. The system changes dynamics according to four driver-selectable settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand. Each alters throttle response, steering, transmission and braking and stability control settings to optimize traction. This system has a slight learning curve, but it provides more capability than what you’ll find in many competing all-wheel drive crossovers.
Notably, no six-cylinder engine option is available for the Discovery Sport.
The tech inside the 2015 Discovery Sport focuses on the 8-inch touch screen on the center console, which utilizes smartphone-like gestures and an interface that interacts with the user. Those familiar with gestures for devices like the iPhone will be very familiar with how the Discovery Sport’s system operates. Another five-inch screen is centered in the driver’s gauge cluster, giving useful information that can be easily configured from controls on the steering wheel. Upper-level packages include InControl apps that allow streaming from Pandora, iHeartRadio and more. Navigation packages can include traffic and weather alerts in real-time.
In general, the Discovery Sport’s tech features are on par with expectations for the class, but it does offer a few unusual features, such as a park assist system.
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as of this writing.
The Discovery Sport comes standard with a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Top-end optional features for collision mitigation and warning are available in the HSE and HSE Lux trims as part of the Driver Assist Plus package.
As a luxury-level import, the 2015 Discovery Sport has a slightly higher starting price than SUVs like the 2015 Acura RDX and Volvo XC60, but it also has a lower base price than competitors like the Audi Q5. The Land Rover brand suffers from a history of higher maintenance costs and other issues. Fuel economy is only average as well, further bringing down the cost-effectiveness of this SUV. Upsides for the Discovery Sport include its excellent capability, a well-earned reputation for all-weather driving and European appeal.
On or off the road, the new 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is ready for just about anything. Its family-friendly build and instantly-recognizable look add to its appeal. Other choices in this segment may have higher cost-effectiveness for some buyers, but few have the overall package of capability, versatility and European style that the Land Rover Discovery Sport offers.