I have reviewed a number of small, luxury SUVs this year. This is an emerging segment of the auto industry, and one that is doing extremely well, as Americans do not want to give up their upper-line SUVs, but at the same time they want to downsize. Although a little late to the dance, Land Rover now has a new entry with a retro name, the Discovery Sport.
Rovers are known for a couple of things…awesome interiors, and one of the most capable 4-wheel drive systems in the auto industry. Discovery does not disappoint in either of the categories. Some smaller SUVs have the name, but do not live up to the heritage of the brand, but Discovery is a real Land Rover from bumper-to-bumper and roof to road.
There are a lot of options on the Discovery, but you have no choice when it comes to the drivetrain of this SUV. They all come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that is rated at 240-horses, and it is hooked to a 9-speed automatic transmission. They are also all front-wheel drive until you switch to 4-wheel drive, and then it transfers power to the rear wheels as well, on an as-needed basis. This is a very capable off-road SUV with 8.3” of ground clearance. Land Rover claims it will cross two feet of water with no issues, and don’t doubt it, but won’t verify it either.
As with most Land Rovers, you can use the Terrain Response buttons to help you out of whatever situation you are in. You can leave the system off if not needed, or you can change all the behavior of the Discovery by choosing grass, gravel, or snow-or you can choose sand, or the last choice, which is mud. The Discovery is as capable off-road as its bigger and more expensive siblings.
Moving to the interior, it is classic Land Rover with rich leather seats, soft-touch door panels, and easy to operate controls. Second row seating is unusually roomy and the Discovery features stadium seating for row two, so the back seat passengers sit higher than the front seat occupants. Discovery is available with optional 3rd row seating, but I can’t imagine they would be very useful.
Discovery comes in three trim levels, SE which is the base level, the HSE-which is what I am reviewing, then the very top of the line, which is the HSE Luxury. My review vehicle is Corris Grey on the outside with black glossy wheels, and it looks awesome.
This package comes nicely equipped with standard features such as automatic climate control, electronic cruise control, power front seats, rear parking sensors, front and rear camera, Bluetooth, and an 8” color touchscreen.
My tester has $9600 in options; most notable are panoramic moon roof, Xenon headlights, fog lights, heated front and rear seats, air conditioned front seats, navigation system, 19” wheels, lane departure warning, power tailgate, and autonomous emergency braking.
One feature I find really cool on the Discovery is it has the ability to read speed limit signs, and it puts your current speed and the speed limit in the middle of the gauge cluster, which is very handy. Also, inside Discovery has up to six USB ports for charging your phone, computer, or iPad.
If you download the Land Rover In Control app for Apple or Android, you can check your fuel level remotely, lock and unlock your doors, call 9-1-1 in an emergency, and turn the inside of the Discovery into a WiFi hotspot that can handle up to 8 users. It also gives you access to many of the apps on your phone, right from the screen.
Gas mileage on this 4000 pound SUV is actually good, 20 in town and 26 on the highway, it will do slightly better in Eco mode, but you have to put up with the start/stop technology, which I find to be annoying.
What I like about Discovery, and I say this as a Range Rover owner for many years. As I stated earlier, this is a real Range Rover. It has the capability, the terrific interior, it is quiet inside, and everything is simple to operate.
The down side to the Discovery is the engine performance. There is a pretty significant turbo lag unless you bury your foot in the accelerator. I think the 9-speed may be a factor too, as the transmission searches for the right gear to downshift to. This engine was a carryover from the earlier days when Ford owned Land Rover, but it is just not up to speed with the rest of the technology of this terrific SUV.
Other than that one issue, it is a great compact SUV and a joy to drive. It even comes with a real spare tire, something that is becoming extinct.
What I liked most: The interior, ride, drive, and handling.
What I would change: The engine, or tweak it to eliminate the turbo lag.
MSRP: Base price $37,070. As equipped $47,670.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 20 City/26 highway/22 combined and getting it.
Odometer reading when tested: 1700 miles.
Weight: 3973 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 180.7” long/85.6” wide/67.9” High.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gallons.
Towing Capacity: 4400 pounds.
2015 Land Rover Discovery in a few words: Smaller, but a REAL Rover!
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 4-years/50,000 miles of powertrain coverage with roadside assistance.
Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Manufacturer’s website: Land Rover
Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro
Photo Credit: Land Rover