2017 Land Rover Discovery

ST. GEORGE, Utah —  The boxy Land Rover LR4 is fresh off a complete redesign and is not only a thoroughly different looking vehicle, but also has a new name: Land Rover Discovery. This fifth-generation model sports a new look inside and out and features a slew of technological advancements. This includes the lightweight monocoque body construction, made of up to 85 percent high-strength aluminum, reducing total vehicle weight by 1,000 pounds or about 20 percent over the outgoing LR4 model.

Gone is the boxy look in favor of the Range Rover Sport’s more rounded aerodynamic flowing design. But a few historical lineage cues — all the way back to the original 1989 Discovery — remain, like the offset rear license plate and the signature stepped roof that’s now a mere ripple.

Buyers get a choice of 14 different alloy wheel designs in four sizes and a palette of 18 exterior colors.

Inside, the Discovery strongly reflects the look, feel and quality of Range Rover models, giving it a much stronger sense of luxury than before; it’s very much in fashion. Elegant touches of supple hand-stitched leather surfaces, brushed metals and natural charcoal oak veneer only enhance the upscale feel.

The new Discovery still has seating for seven full-size adults in three rows of heated seats, with the new model introducing the world’s first Intelligent Seat Folding technology. It allows the seven seats to be configured using vehicle’s touchscreen controls or remotely from anywhere in the world using a smartphone enabled InControl Remote application.

To demonstrate the seat folding technology, Land Rover employed adventurer Bear Grylis to demonstrate the system by raising them from his iPhone while skydiving from a plane.

Also new is the $2,000 extra top-spec engine option, the 258-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, a first for the Discovery. It’s a superbly smooth, quiet powerplant from which 443 pound-feet of off-road near vertical boulder climbing torque emanates.

There’s also a new waterproof Activity Key wristband that allows you to leave the key fob in the vehicle during workouts like biking, kayaking etc., eliminating chance of losing it while working out and freeing up the driver’s pockets. Unlock the vehicle by holding the wristband up against the rear liftgate.

Another new first is the Advanced Tow Assist that works similarly to Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist by allowing the vehicle to back up with a trailer attached by controlling the electronic steering.

A 3.0-liter supercharged 340-horsepower V-6 is the standard engine. Both engines are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

I recently drove both the gasoline version V-6 and the turbodiesel on extended drives in the breathtakingly beautiful, big sky country of the Colorado Plateau area of Arizona and Utah, crossing both Zion and parts of Grand Canyon National Parks on a Land Rover-sponsored launch event for the media.

At the two-day drive event, engineers from Land Rover repeatedly made a point of saying the Discovery is the most capable off-road vehicle they have ever built. To demonstrate that claim, we drove a route over 300 miles in rugged dry river beds, muddy undulating trails, in the deep powder sand of Utah’s Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park and even icy road conditions in Jacob Lake, Arizona, near the north entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park, putting the Discovery to the test.

Not surprisingly, the Discovery performed in an awe-inspiring display of unstoppability on all surfaces, terrains and weather conditions, utilizing Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system, All-Terrain Progress Control and a suspension that’s adjustable up to 13-inches of ground clearance. On numerous occasions, our Discovery was rock climbing at angles that left it with one of its wheels more than a foot off the ground. It can also ford water up to 35.4 inches deep. Now that’s impressive.

The Terrain Response system offers five settings including Normal, Snow, Mud, Sand and, Rock. There’s an Auto mode that takes the guess work out of it by automatically allowing the computer to select the best mode for driving conditions by giving the vehicle over 1,000 bits of road-condition information per second.

While seemingly most Land Rover Discoverys will never be tested by owners in the extreme conditions we put our test vehicles through off road, we think they should. With all its built-in capabilities, comfort and safety features, you’re missing out on a lot of fun and places most people will never see.

Vital Stats

Price: $49,900 - $65,950
Price as Tested: N/A
Seating: 7
Engine: 3.0-liter V6 or 3.0-liter turbodiesel
Horsepower: 340-hp: V6 – 258-hp: turbodiesel
Fuel Economy: N/A

Competes With:

Audi Q7
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Volvo XC 90

Fab Features:

Terrific new styling
Luxurious, spacious interior
Unstoppable off-road prowess
Quiet, refined on road comfort

— Jim Prueter