The newest Land Rover took a bow at the Los Angeles Auto Show this year, with the LR4 making way for the 2017 Discovery. Land Rover’s newest seven-seater will herald the return of one of the company’s most beloved nameplates, suitably modernized to fit in with luxury SUVs like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Audi Q7.
Land Rover’s future was first previewed in 2014 with the Discovery Vision concept, an SUV that presaged a new family of vehicles from the English automaker. The first recipient of the concept’s styling cues was the smaller Discovery Sport crossover SUV, and now Land Rover is filling out the lineup with the fullsize 2017 Discovery.
Gone are the LR4’s (and first-generation Discovery’s) squared-off roofline, massive rear quarter windows, and blocky front end, replaced instead by the new Discovery’s swoopy, Range Rover–inspired styling. A double-hump roof carries over from the LR4, toned down a bit for aerodynamics. The overall effect is still instantly recognizable as a Land Rover, but we must admit, we’re going to miss the old SUV’s big, blocky stance. Still, sales of the similarly styled Discovery Sport have proved very strong, so perhaps the sleek design language will go over well with Discovery buyers too.
What we won’t miss is the LR4’s hefty mass. Thanks to aluminum-intensive construction and modern lightweighting techniques, the thoroughly modern Discovery shaves 1,000 pounds off the old truck. Powered by Land Rover’s 3.0L supercharged V-6, the company says the Discovery will achieve 14 percent greater fuel efficiency compared to the LR4. We expect EPA fuel economy numbers around 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
Being a Land Rover, off-road ability will be a huge selling point for the 2017 Discovery. Eleven inches of ground clearance and generous approach and departure angles make the Disco fairly at home in inhospitable environments, and with a water-wading depth of nearly 3 feet, there’s not a lot the big LR won’t be able to do. Two transfer cases are available; both are fulltime four-wheel-drive units, but one includes a single-speed transfer case with Torsen differentials and one includes a dedicated low range. Many owners should be satisfied with the weight-saving single-speed box, but those who demand the best off-road performance should option the two-speed T-case.
All-Terrain Progress Control works as a low-speed cruise control, enabling steady forward motion at speeds ranging from 1.2 mph to 19 mph, and Terrain Response 2 Auto is the latest iteration of the company’s terrain management system. Terrain Response optimizes traction control, stability control, throttle sensitivity, and ABS intervention for a variety of selectable conditions, including mud, rocks, snow, general driving, and grass.
A luxurious new interior modernizes Land Rover’s new flagship, with a gorgeous new design that wouldn’t look out of place on a top-spec Range Rover. The Discovery’s rear-seat entertainment system is capable of monitoring vehicle location and position, as on some airliners, and the power-folding third-row seats can be activated via a Land Rover smartphone app. Each row can be optioned with heated seats, and the first two rows are available ventilated as well. Front-row occupants can also enjoy massaging thrones, if equipped. Land Rover’s reasonably intuitive InControl Touch Pro infotainment system makes operating the 2017 Discovery’s myriad vehicle systems easier. A one-piece liftgate facilitates loading and unloading, and those who enjoyed dropping the lower tailgate portion of their LR4s will appreciate that Land Rover included a deployable picnic bench in the new Disco’s cargo area, an easy-to-use piece that can support more than 600 pounds.
We’ve recently enjoyed a close look at the new Discovery and found it to be every inch a Land Rover, with impressive off-road capability and interior luxury. Its modern styling may alienate some of the Discovery faithful, but it should still attract a large audience thanks to its sleek, sophisticated design. With improved on-road performance, even more off-road capability, a comfortable interior, and increased fuel efficiency, there’s no reason the new Discovery won’t find plenty of happy homes.