| BUYERS GUIDE
LAND ROVER DISCOVERY
Nice wagon, but its large diameter tyres are vulnerable in the bush - July 2017.
OTA owned a Discovery 3 for three years, so we reckon we’re in a good position to evaluate the improvements (and otherwise) incorporated in its successors, the Discovery 4 and the Discovery 5 that was released in July 2017.
Our experience in owning a Land Rover Discovery 3 wasn't a happy one, in terms of Land Rover support.
We had many electronic problems that Land Rover refused to classify as warranty issues, despite our having purchased an extended warranty package.
It cost us a lot of money to rectify these issues and some - including the engine's going into 'limp' mode on any steep hill - were never rectified.
Worse, some of the issues we had, including a locking-on handbrake and leaking sunroof gutter, persisted with the Disco 4.
We would never buy another Land Rover product, but don't just believe us: click onto landroverhell.com for a litany of disasters.
There is also a lack of dealerships in country areas, so once you leave the blacktop you're on your own.
That said, Land Rover is undoubtedly the 4WD world innovator, so what the company develops is often copied by its competitors, usually more reliably.
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery replaces the current box-shaped Disco that has been with us since 2004. Like its predecessor the new vehicle is full-sized, with optional three-row, seven-seat layout.
The latest Discovery was released in August 2017, with pricing from $65,960 for the Td4 S five-seat model.
Apart from its more streamlined appearance the latest Discovery boasts different construction from its predecessors. Like the Range Rover models the Discovery body is pressed from aluminium panels and welded into a monocoque structure that’s said the make it up to 480kg lighter than the outgoing vehicle.
Also new is a four-cylinder Ingenium 177kW diesel engine with 500Nm of torque.
As result of these weight saving measures the Discovery tares from 2105kg.
The innovative suspension architecture is mounted on optimised steel front and rear subframes. These provide high levels of stiffness for enhanced steering response, chassis performance and greater refinement.
The subframes are also designed to withstand off-road impacts while providing additional protection to the chassis and powertrain systems.
The fifth-generation model retains the stepped roofline that has characterised the four previous generations of Discovery, providing an elegant solution to a practical need. The stepped profile optimises headroom for passengers travelling in the third row of seats and accommodates Discovery’s customary stadium seating configuration, which sees each row of seats positioned higher than the one in front.
The Discovery is able to accommodate seven full-sized adults in a body measuring less than five metres in length. Most similar-sized competitors provide 5+2 seating but the Discovery is designed for 95th percentile adults to sit comfortably in its rearmost seats.
Both third-row seats incorporate ISOFIX mounting points, making four in total.
The interior continues the design concept started by the Discovery Sport, where customers can specify a range of premium materials, including luxurious Windsor leather upholstery and natural oak veneers.
The Discovery provides a claimed world-first Intelligent Seat Fold technology, allowing customers to reconfigure the second- and third-row seats, using controls at the rear of the vehicle, the central touchscreen and even remotely via a smartphone app as part of the InControl Touch Pro Services.
The innovative feature allows owners to rearrange the seats from inside a shop while they queue to pay for large or bulky items, ensuring the vehicle is perfectly configured to accommodate their purchases.
All three rows can be specified with heated seats – heated and cooled in rows one and two – and massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger to optimise comfort on long journeys.
Auto Access Height technology reduces the ride-height by up to 40mm as passengers prepare to enter or exit the vehicle.
Another key to New Discovery’s superior versatility is Jaguar Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. The intuitive set-up features a large 245mm touchscreen positioned high on the centre console, allowing a reduction in the number of switches on the centre console by a third.
Seamless iOS and Android 5 connectivity combine with an optional 14-speaker Meridian digital surround system with an additional subwoofer and WiFi.
Up to six 12V charging points ensure the Discovery is equipped to cope with the demands of the most connected families, while as many as nine USB sockets allow passengers in each row to power their smartphones or tablets simultaneously.
Another technology feature for active families is Land Rover’s state-of-the-art Activity Key wristband, which allows customers to secure the vehicle without carrying the standard key fob. Holding the waterproof Activity Key up to the ‘D’ in the Discovery badge on the tailgate simultaneously locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left inside
There are also convenient interior storage solutions, including: hidden stowage in the central console capable of holding four iPads or a pair of two-litre drinks bottles; a central armrest with a lid that hinges through 180 degrees to function as an armrest even when open hides a cubby large enough to house five iPads; small-item stowage behind the fold-down Climate Control panel and an optional flush-fitting push-operated ‘take away food hook’ in the front passenger foot well capable of securing carry bags.
A new dual-purpose Powered Inner Tailgate operates as a practical load restraint, but when lowered the 285mm overhanging section doubles as a useful bench.
Ground clearance is rated at 283mm (up 43mm) and maximum wading depth is 900mm (an increase of 200mm).
Land Rover’s multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system optimises a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics, to suit the driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller – and can even select the optimum setting automatically if drivers are unsure of the best choice.
When tackling particularly challenging terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programmed to autonomously maintain a suitable crawl speed chosen by the driver.
Advanced Tow Assist allows drivers to complete difficult reversing manoeuvres when towing. The system takes care of the tricky counter-steering required to position trailers accurately and the driver can simply guide the trailer into the desired space using the rotary controller for the Terrain Response 2 system.
The Discovery is powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s range of four and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The award-winning 132kW 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder Td4 diesel engine is the most efficient in the range and delivers combined fuel economy of 6.3l/100km.
The more powerful twin-turbo Sd4 Ingenium four-cylinder diesel produces 177kW and 500Nm of torque, with fuel economy of 6.5l/100km.
Six-cylinder diesel power comes from the 190kW Td6, which delivers 600Nm of torque.
There’s a choice of 14 alloy wheel designs including 21- and 22-inch rims for the first time. A specially developed 20-inch Aero wheel design has been created to help reduce drag and all models feature a full-sized spare wheel mounted under the body at the rear.
A 19- inch wheel is also available and is the only wheel to which moderately-capable tyres can be fitted.
A comprehensive range of accessories integrates with the Discovery, including roof bars and roof rack attachments.
Discovery measures 4970mm long, 2220mm wide (mirrors out) and 1846mm tall, making it 141mm longer but narrower and lower than before. Its 2923mm wheelbase has increased by 38mm.
The range comprises SE, HSE and HSE Luxury derivatives, with an optional Black Design Pack available on all variants. All seven-seat SE models feature 19-inch alloy wheels, four-corner air suspension, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded audio, satellite navigation, 12x12 way Grained Leather electric seats, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, towing armature and electrics, full-size spare wheel and LED headlamps.
HSE highlights include memory seats and electric steering column adjustment, bright treadplates, In fascia storage, shopping bag hook Three-Zone Climate Control, Keyless Entry, Powered External and Internal Tailgate, Meridian 380W sound system, professional satellite navigation system with 245mm touchscreen, 20-inch alloy wheels and LED signature taillamps.
Top of the range HSE Luxury key inclusions are 16x16 way memory Windsor Leather upholstery with winged headrests and climate front seats, extended leather throughout the interior, five colour configurable interior mood lighting, a panoramic sunroof as standard among a host of advanced convenience and safety features, chrome finish door handles, front centre cooler compartment, surround camera system, Meridian Surround Sound System and Digital TV.
The new Dynamic Design Pack provides scope for greater personalisation on HSE and HSE Luxury models and includes a host of design enhancements.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) has been enhanced to ensure the Discovery corners with greater security by monitoring all four wheels to detect and counteract understeer and oversteer. The intelligent system applies a braking force to the inside wheels to help tighten the cornering trajectory of the vehicle and reduces engine torque to help the driver maintain their desired path.
This latest-generation system has enhanced understeer control, which applies braking to all four wheels to reduce vehicle speed and regain control more effectively.
The new Discovery also features the latest version of Land Rover’s Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) technology. The carefully calibrated variable ratio system provides a more natural and responsive steering feel, remaining easy to manoeuvre at low speeds and offering a more surefooted feel at higher cruising speeds. The latest EPAS system also supports New Discovery’s Terrain Response 2 function by varying the steering feedback depending on the friction level of the road surface.
New Discovery is available with a two-speed transfer box, providing a standard 50/50 torque split between front and rear wheels, but input from a range of sensors can distribute torque between the wheels, depending on the conditions. The two-speed fully synchronised ‘shift on the move’ system allows the driver to swap between high and low ratios without having to stop the vehicle, at speeds of up to 60km/h.
Customers who don’t require low-range transmission can opt for the full-time four-wheel drive system with single-speed transfer box. This provides a torque split of 42/58 across the front and rear axles, but can redistribute torque to the axle with the most grip, up to 62/38 and 22/78 respectively.
The new Discovery is fitted with Land Rover’s next-generation Terrain Response 2 technology, which automatically monitors the driving conditions to ensure the vehicle is primed to cope with a range of surfaces; General driving; Grass, Gravel and Snow; Mud and Ruts; Sand; and Rock Crawl. The intuitive system optimises a range of vehicle settings to suit the conditions, from throttle mapping and steering responses to the suspension set-up and traction control settings.
Land Rover’s four-corner air suspension has a two-stage off-road mode with ride heights of +40mm and +75mm. At speeds below 50km/h the +75mm setting is available and for faster speeds on rutted dirt roads, between 50-80km/h, the vehicle will operate at +40mm. In addition, the new Speed Lowering function cuts drag and enhances fuel economy by automatically reducing the ride height by 13mm at cruising speeds above 105km/h.
The comprehensive range of on- and off-road technologies includes: Hill Descent Control (HDC) that maintains a set speed while tackling steep descents off-road; Gradient Release Control (GRC) slowly releases the brake when moving from a standing start on an incline for greater control; Electronic Traction Control (ETC) applies a braking force or reduces torque to individual wheels to stop wheelspin; Roll Stability Control (RSC) detects the beginning of a rollover and applies the brakes to the outer wheels to bring the vehicle under control; Wade Sensing provides real-time wading depth information in relation to the maximum wading depth using the 4x4i infotainment screen.
The industry-first Trailer Light Test feature allows customers to test their trailer lights without outside assistance, pulsing them while standing outside the vehicle.
Rear Height Adjust allows the driver to lower and raise the height of the rear of the vehicle using the key fob or switches in the luggage compartment to make hitching a trailer simpler.
Trailer Stability Assist enhances safety on the move by detecting trailer sway and gradually reducing the speed of the vehicle by cutting the engine and gently applying the brakes in order to restore control to the driver.
The new Discovery features Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system, as debuted on Discovery Sport, but includes a new pedestrian detection system that detect adult or child pedestrians, as well as other vehicles in the road and apply the brakes to stop the vehicle quickly and safely.
Vehicles fitted with Adaptive Cruise Control also come with Advanced Emergency Brake Assist and Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB). Using the vehicle’s forward facing radar, AEB detects and monitors any vehicles that are moving in the same direction. If the vehicle ahead suddenly brakes, the driver is alerted to a possible collision. When the system detects that the driver hasn’t slowed it will gently and automatically apply the brakes. If a collision is imminent, the system will apply the same pressure as in an emergency braking situation.
Blind Spot Monitor uses rear-facing side-mounted radar sensors to check for vehicles within the vehicle’s blind spots. The advanced set-up alerts the driver with a warning light in the corresponding wing mirror. For New Discovery Blind Spot Monitor also includes Closing Vehicle Sensing, which provides added peace of mind on multi-lane roads. The system scans for fast approaching vehicles further behind and alerts the driver they risk a collision if they were to move into the path of an approaching vehicle in an adjacent lane.
Traffic Sign Recognition uses a forward-facing camera and satellite navigation information to inform the driver of speed limits.
Driver Condition Monitor is able to monitor driver behaviour through inputs of steering, brake and accelerator to detect fatigue.
We’ll have a press test vehicle in October and will produce a full report and video then.
Previous Discovery models
The Discovery 4, or version 3.2 if you will, was a successor to the most awarded large 4WD wagon in the world.
Land Rover’s Discovery 4 sported powerful and efficient engines, fresh exterior identity and an upgraded cabin.
New lights included LED technology front and rear, with optional bi-xenon lamps and cornering lights.
The interior was completely restyled, with a transformed dash and centre console, new seats and an array of new kit.
User-friendly features available for the Discovery 4 included a portable audio interface, gradient release, tow assist and high beam assist.
In addition, an optional five-camera ‘surround’ system allowed for easier parking, towing and off-road manoeuvring.
Other Discovery 4 changes included new suspension components, revised steering, larger brakes, improved traction control and enhancements to the award-winning Terrain Response system.
The two new engines were LR-TDV6 3.0 twin turbo diesel and LR-V8 direct injection petrol, but we reckoned most OTA site visitors would focus interest on the diesel, which is why we borrowed two such Disco 4s and gave them a workout.
The three-litre, twin-turbo diesel had 600Nm of torque and 180kW of power, yet fuel consumption was claimed to be improved by nine percent.
Our Disco 3's 2.7-litre, single-turbo diesel averaged 10.4L/100km in a combined, town, country and off-road duty cycle over three years, with around half its accumulated 180,000km being bush and off-road travel.
On the same duty cycle the Disco 4 three-litre achieved 9.5L/100km, despite having much more performance than the 2.7 – itself no slouch. That’s an 8.6 percent consumption improvement.
Significantly, the existing LR-TDV6 2.7 diesel, with 140kW and 440Nm, was retained for two years. That was important for buyers who wanted to go seriously ‘bush’, because the three-litre came with big brakes that dictated wheels of at least 19-inch diameter and there are very few bush-capable tyres available in that size and none with a ‘light-truck (LT)’ rating. The 2.7-litre model could be fitted with 17-inch wheels that can mount LT tyres.
For those who tow, a useful inclusion in the new Disco 4 was a program that monitored engine coolant temperature when the ambient exceededs 40°C, gradually decreasing air conditioner efficiency, rather than have the coolant temperature rise excessively.
The Disco 4 continued with the Disco 3’s removable, lockable towing tongue housing and also came with two pre-wired 12N and 12S trailer plugs as standard equipment. The Discovery 4 tongue housing was a new shape that didn’t obstruct spare wheel removal and fitment, and couldn be retro-fitted to the Disco 3.
The electronic stability control system in the Disco 4 ‘knew’ when a trailer was connected, via a sensor in the trailer plugs, and modified stability control actions to take account of it.
A standard mis-fuelling device was fitted into the diesel filler neck and triggereds when an unleaded petrol nozzle was inserted, blocking the filler neck. A plastic tool was provided, to reset the blocking device. As with the Disco 3 a snorkel could be fitted and removed without body surgery.
What you Get
For the Australian market launch, diesel-powered Discovery 4s were available in three different specification levels, but the 2.7-litre engine has been dropped.
Discovery 4 2.7 TDV6
The now defunct 2.7 TDV6 standard specification included cruise control; Terrain Response; electric park brake; cross-linked air suspension with automatic load levelling and multiple modes - access, normal, off-road and extended height; speed-proportional steering; rain sensing wipers; automatic headlamps; power adjustable, heated mirrors; ‘puddle’ lamps and foot well lamps; auto headlamps with power wash; rain sensors; front fog lamps; rear park distance control; tow pack; 18 inch, five-spoke aluminium wheels with 255/60 AT V-rated tyres (after-market 17-inch wheels and tyres will fit); automatic dimming interior mirror; dual climate control; five seats with cloth trim; leather trimmed steering wheel; Harman/Kardon audio system – nine speakers, subwoofer, radio, single slot CD player, auxiliary input; driver information centre; Bluetooth telephone connectivity ; power sockets - front, second row and rear; EBD, ABS, ETC, ESC, electronic differential control, roll stability control, trailer stability assist and HDC with gradient release control. Airbags were full-size driver and front passenger, driver and front passenger side and head, and rear outboard passenger head airbags.
Discovery 4 3.0 TDV6 SE
The next model in the line-up was the 3.0 TDV6 SE, featuring the all new diesel engine with advanced sequential twin turbochargers. In addition to the features found on the 2.7 TDV6, the 3.0 TDV6 SE came with the following as standard specification: seven seats with leather trim; bi-xenon headlights with cornering lamps; 19-inch seven-spoke wheels with 255/55 AT V-rated tyres; power-fold mirrors; third-row head curtain airbags and map lamps.
Discovery 4 3.0 TDV6 HSE
The 3.0 TDV6 HSE came with the following as standard specification: navigation system (hard disc drive) with voice control and off-road mapping; portable audio interface; rear view camera; front park distance control; 19-inch split-spoke wheels; rear air conditioning; illuminated front vanity mirrors; rear luggage net; interior mood lighting; electric seat driver's and passenger's adjustment; driver and passenger front armrests; and a leather gear knob. As comprehensive as these spec’ levels were, there was more in the Land Rover goody tin that hadn’t been chosen for Australia, including tyre pressure monitoring - that’s nuts, because tyre pressure monitoring is the first thing you need when going bush.
Living with the Discovery 4
Our test vehicles were SE models, with some options: electronically-lockable rear diff; metallic paint and an expensive navigation system ($4430). The Discovery 3’s original nav system was useless in the bush until we upgraded the mapping and that brought it up to Disco 4 level, which was very good. Most bush tracks we’ve come across around Australia were shown, making the factory unit a useful option.
The lockable rear diff was a must-have for serious off-road work and we found that the locked back end gives the traction control system a useful leg-up.
Metallic paint was an expensive choice, but there was no doubt about its quality. Our Disco 3 paint remained in good nick, despite years of bush work.
In stepping from the Disco 3 into the Discovery 4 we noticed firstly the switch from a proper ignition key to a keyless start and stop system. We hate the thought of accidentally leaving home without the key fob, even though there’s a key-proximity warning message inbuilt. Worse is the possibility that my beloved could take it shopping after being dropped off, leaving me in the Disco miles away, with the engine running.
In a changed control and dashboard layout graphics replaced analogue coolant temperature and fuel gauges. The Terrain Response dial and Hill Descent Control button were easier to see and operate, and when selections were made they were repeated momentarily in graphic display on the dashboard screen.
Given the instrument panel LED graphics we expected a digital clock as well, but the Disco 4 had an ‘old fashioned’ analogue clock that you could actually read at a glance – much better than the illegible digital clock in the Disco 3.
Not so good was the loss of shelf space in front of the navigation screen, where we were used to popping ‘sunnies’. Also changed was the ash-tray design that used to be ideal for CB radio location, but the new one was too small.
The Disco 4 Harman/Kardon sound system should have been the same as the Disco 3’s, but our optionally upgraded Disco 3 systems sounded much better than the current Disco 4 SE’s nine-speaker standard kit. The better quality system is now an HSE exclusive. The Discovery 4 had iPod connectivity and charging, but the plug wouldn’t charge an iPhone.
The manual-adjustment front seats looked similar to the Disco 3 chairs, but they had more support. We swapped our seats for Recaros and, while we’d still move them into a Disco 4, there’s no desperate need for improved seating. The power-adjustment seats in the HSE were even better.
The steering wheel switch shapes were changed, to make them feel more recognisable by the fingertips and it worked.
Also, the rather confusing front and rear fog lamp switching in the Disco 3 – pull the headlight dial out one notch for front fogs and two notches for rears – was swapped for more logical separate push buttons.
Our Disco 3 SE came with optional bi-xenon lights, but they were standard with the three-litre engine and they incorporated cornering beams.
The new beams were noticeably broader than the Disco 3’s, even when driving straight ahead. Auto-dimming interior and power-fold exterior mirrors were standard. When you turned off the engine the mirrors tucked-in neatly and that’s handy in tight car park spaces. The mirrors dipped when reverse was selected in the HSE version.
The second and third-row seating was as before and was still far and away the best back-seat/cargo arrangement in the market. No other large wagon came within cooee of the Land Rover design.
Engine noise was remarkably lower than in the 2.7-litre Discovery 3, which was already very quiet when compared with four-cylinder Japanese diesels. Twin turbos chopped the intake noise pulses into little puffs and no-one picked the Disco 4 as a diesel, even at idle.
The six-speed auto’s slick shifting felt the same, but the three-litre did everything using fewer engine revs – hence the economy improvement. The performance difference between the 2.7 and the three-litre was shattering – to the point where I didn’t dare to do a stopwatch comparison. The three-litre V6 Discovery 4 wais almost a performance match for the Range Rover Sport V8 diesel and blew the LandCruiser 200’s 4.5-litre V8 into the weeds.
Servicing intervals for the three-litre were flexible, with a guide being an annual oil drop or at 26,000km, but the engine management system measured engine load factors and advised the driver of a hard-driven, heavily loaded or towing Disco 4 of the need for more frequent oil changes.
On and Off-road
The Disco 3 was the best-handling large wagon in the market, but it was supplanted by the Discovery 4, which was sharper and flatter and could be power-steered through the twisty bits. The considerable increase in grunt was achieved with very little engine weight penalty, so the Disco 3’s balance was retained. ‘Nough said.
Off road, the Discovery 4 retained the original’s dynamics and the Terrain Response system was enhanced somewhat. We noticed a difference in Hill Descent Control behaviour when in ‘Rock Crawl’ mode, because the system pre-loaded the wheel brakes. There was much less noise from the brakes during steep descents and less jerking than happened in the Disco 3.
The ‘Sand’ program was altered to reduce initial wheelspin when lifting off in soft sand – important with the three-litre – but sand remained the nemesis of the Discovery, because it was a heavy mother and its low-profile rubber didn’t deform as readily at low pressures as tyres with taller sidewalls.
We checked out the new Gradient Release Control feature that temporarily held brake pressure on steep slopes when descending a slippery waterfall.
GRC made manoeuvring the vehicle in this difficult situation relatively simple, because there was no roll-back or roll-forward during transition from brake to accelerator. Sure, left-foot braking is always possible in these situations, but GRC made that unnecessary.
With off-road height selected – a 55mm ground clearance increase - the air suspension system worked well in off-road situations and on two occasions we grounded the vehicle and had the automatic ‘extended mode’ suspension setting come into operation. This 35mm-higher suspension setting couln’t be driver selected, but it boosted clearance when sensors detected that the vehicle was stuck. Once triggered, the extended height could be increased another 35mm by driver action if there was still not enough lift – making a total possible suspension lift of 125mm over road height.
Our Disco 3 suffered from front end ‘play’ that was traced to prematurely worn ball joints and steering rack ends that were replaced under warranty with much more robust Discovery 4 front end bits. Ditto the front and rear anti-sway bar rubbers.
The standard shock absorbers did more than 100,000 mainly bush kilometres before being replaced, so they’re bush-tough.
The single most common problem with any 4WD on long bush trips is...tyres. And what’s the Discovery 4’s greatest bushability weakness? Yep, its 19-inch tyres. There are very few 19-inch light truck (LT) tyres available for the Discovery 4. LT tyres typically have load ratings around 120, but the available 19-inchers are no tougher than around 112. We’ve had good bush-travel success with Goodyear’s MTR 19-incher that it developed for Land Rover’s G4 Challenge vehicles, but that tyre is rare and expensive.
So, without a wide choice of bush rubber, is a Discovery 4 viable? Yes, but only the discontinued five-seat 2.7 model, with its smaller brake package and available 17-inch wheels, for which there’s a wide range of LT rubber available. You’d lose out on performance and braking power, but the 2.7 proved to be a great kilometre-eater, even with our two-tonne boat and trailer behind.
You should look for one with the lockable rear diff, nav system, rear view camera and bi-xenon lights, that was originally a 75-grand purchase. That was by far the best value for money large wagon in the marketplace.
The Disco 3 can be great used buying, because most have never been off road. However, beware of the expense and difficulty of fixing electronic dramas.
Coil-sprung ‘S’ model Disco 3s benefit from taller coils and longer shock absorbers. All Discos need increased fuel capacity and a swing-away spare carrier makes fitting a second tank easy. Snorkels are available from Land Rover and the after-market.
Most Disco 3 after-market bits will fit the Discovery 4, although rear chassis changes during the Discovery 3’s development mean you need your VIN when ordering items such as LongRanger tanks and Kaymar swing-away spare wheel carrier.
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