New Car Previews

Preview: 2017 Land Rover Discovery

It was under wraps, but it was pretty easy to discover what was undercover.

As the fastest-growing luxury brand in North America, Land Rover has definitely seen a resurgence over the past few years with models becoming more stylish and more luxurious while retaining their legendary off-road capability. The Land Rover Discovery is also set for a resurgence; its off-road chops even more impressive.

Not that many owners are likely to drive them anywhere near rocks and dirt, but should the need arise, for instance, to ford a river (or a flooded underpass) nearly a metre deep, this would be your vehicle of choice. Ground clearance is now 283 millimeters (up 43 mm) and wading depth is 900 mm (up 200 mm). These are big numbers!

“It’s a Land Rover,” said one company representative. “It’s what we do.”

Available in spring 2017, the new fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery is the latest “Landie” to get a makeover, and it’s a comprehensive one. Like the outgoing LR4, it’s a three-row, seven-passenger SUV, but it’s now built on an all-aluminum chassis that reduces its weight by a whopping 480 kilograms (1,056 lb).

For those who tow, a formidable capacity of 3,500 kilograms (8,200 lb) is available, which should cover most owners’ requirements. The Discovery’s semi-autonomous Advanced Tow Assist will help drivers who are unaccustomed to the challenges of backing up with a trailer attached. Offered for the first time on a Land Rover vehicle, this advanced system provides hands-free assistance when reversing a trailer into a driver-selected parking location.

What carries over from previous models are the two available engines in the form of a 3.0L supercharged V6 making 340 horsepower (from the LR4) and 332 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0L V6  diesel (which was not available on the LR4) making 254 hp and 443 lb-ft. Acceleration times from 0–97 km/h are a respectable 6.9 and 7.7 seconds respectively.

The new Discovery’s exterior is a clear departure from boxier designs of the past, although various cues (the stepped roofline among them) retain the brand’s visual identity. But it’s a smoother, softer interpretation of the classic Land Rover shape, which is sure to appeal to a broader market.

Although under five metres in length at 4,970 mm, the interior is designed to accommodate seven 95th percentile adults (rather than the 5+2 seating often encountered in seven-passenger vehicles). Depending on the model, the second two rows of seats are fully power-operable, and additionally are remotely configurable via a smartphone app. With the second- and third-row seat backs folded, the Discovery offers 2,500 L of cargo capacity and a power inner tailgate that can used as event seating for three adults. Land Rover points out that this replicates the horizontally split taligate of previous-generation Discovery models.

The 2017 Land Rover Discovery is all about luxury, big capability and modern technology in an intelligently sized vehicle. People seem to love them. Land Rover’s on a roll.