Space and tech: A winter with the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Td6


Car reviews / Среда, Апрель 4th, 2018

I was never a huge fan of the LR-branded Discovery SUVs that have been running around the States since the mid-90s. In those days, the Range Rover looked better and people considered it cool. If I was going to pick a Land Rover, money being no object, it would have been one of those. But, with this latest redesign of the Discovery for the fifth generation, I was all in. I attended the pre-prelaunch of this car at the New York auto show a few years back and liked the looks from the start. Ours is in this weird shade of burnt sienna — and yes I know what burnt sienna is. I also know what Columbia blue and harvest gold are, as well as the differences between flock and felt. I worked at the local screen printing place while in high school, but I digress. I don’t hate the color, don’t love it. A woman did stop me in a parking lot to say she loved it, and my sister just said that she likes weird-colored cars, too, because they’re easy to find in a lot filled with faceless SUVs. So I get that. I saw a picture of a white one though, and that looks really nice.

The fifth-gen is the first unibody Discovery, meaning it’s supposed to handle less like a pickup truck. I didn’t quite feel that in my two weeks with the car, with a new baby and toddler in tow. There’s a ton of head movement, side to side and back and forth. And I was surprised at how it crashed over our admittingly big Detroit potholes with a loud kachunk resonating in the cabin.

 

So, there’s a new "junior" road test editor junior in the family, my second, and I was pumped to have the Disco to bring him home from the hospital. Last time around, I had the three-row, and lovely, Mazda CX-9 to take junior number one home, which left plenty of space for mom in the passenger seat. This time, with the toddler seat behind the passenger, I put the new baby seat behind me, the driver, and had to move and lean my seat up a few inches. Granted, the baby seat is longer, front to back, than the toddler seat, but I’m only 5-foot-10. I always considered the LR/Disco a big car, at least midsize-to-big, so what gives? It looks big, feels big when driving; the rear seats even slide fore and aft — still, not enough room.

Elsewhere inside, I appreciated the heated seats and steering wheel on these freezing days, but missed not having remote start, a feature my wife’s Ford Escape has. The infotainment looks good, but it’s slow to react to all inputs. It’s also hard to jab at while driving, takes a long time to connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth, then goes back to the AM band when you start the car. WTF. I was in a Jag XF sedan afterward, and though everything looked the same, the controls worked better. Maybe the Disco needs a software update.

I do like the flip-down/foldout tailgate. It keeps the groceries corralled, though I was scared to try sitting on it like a truck tailgate, didn't want to break it.

The list of tech on this car is impressive — or would be if it always worked properly. If you get a few chunks of ice over the windshield or bumper sensors, everything goes haywire. I had no emergency braking for most of my stint, and it beeps and notifies the driver every two seconds. Also, the lane keeping is too strict. You have to give the turn signal two good clicks before you start switching lanes. One click, I’m on the move, two clicks I’m halfway in and three clicks I’m over. Would not recommend.

As for mechanical parts, this car kicks ass in the snow, especially with the snow tires installed. The turbodiesel does a lot of clicking and clacking, especially on startup. I joked a few weeks ago when it was unseasonably warm and foggy in the morning that this is what it must feel like on a spring day in the outskirts of London. Green grass, a low misty haze and the calming clickity-clack of a diesel warming up. When you step on the gas pedal from a standstill, it feels like a full second before the Discovery takes off. It’s annoying and sometimes dangerous, like when you’re trying to jump out in a gap in traffic. The eight-speed was generally agreeable and the brakes were fine.

Final thought. I’m the one who let the diesel additive fluid almost run dry before handing the keys off to the boss. Bad move: Once that fluid is gone, the car will not start. I found this out when the boss called me from Chicago with a dead Discovery stuck in a hotel driveway. I feel like the warning should be more severe, more often and maybe accompanied by a phone call from the dealer. The fix was quick — either get to a dealer or even an auto parts store and add more fluid. Still, the things we go through for a better, cleaner world.

This Disco stickers for nearly $80K. That seems like too much for no remote start, not enough room for a baby seat behind the driver and tech that glitches out when a bit of snow and ice hit the windshield — especially considering this car loves driving in the ice, snow and dirt. Can we keep these looks, engine, drivetrain and go back to the old tech? Hmm, that sounds like a bad idea too, though I’ve never personally experienced the joy of owning an old JLR car. I’m sure they’re perfectly reliable. Right?

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $66,945

As Tested Price: $79,950

Powertrain: 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, 4WD, eight-speed automatic

Output: 254 hp @ 3,750 rpm; 443 lb-ft @ 1,750-2,250 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,916 lb

Fuel Economy: 21/26/23 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Punchy acceleration once it gets going

Cons: Less interior space than expected