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  • Long-Term Test Final Report: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury

Long-Term Test Final Report: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury

Report 4 of 4

Christian Hazel
Sep 19, 2019

We can't recall a time when we had a more love/hate relationship with a long-term test vehicle. Let's address the elephant in the room. This particular 2018 Land Rover Discovery was not without problems. In fact, it spent several weeks of our evaluation time at the dealership for various issues.

But when it was working, it was working well. The Land Rover Discovery combined luxury amenities like comfortable front seats with built-in heat/air/massage, a very well-tuned sound system, and a panoramic roof (which brings the outdoor feeling inside) with zippy engine acceleration and superb off-road handling that was in direct contradiction to the on-road handling, which could at times feel wallowy and cumbersome. But put it on a dirt road, and it just stuck like glue, providing a level of confidence that's hard to match in the world of seven-passenger SUVs these days. Bombing down desert washes or twisty mountain dirt roads, there was almost never any harsh bottoming or topping out of the suspension. It seems like an anachronistic compliment, but the Discovery's air suspension behaves more like a good ol' steel spring than a super-modern airbag system, which is almost always harsh and jarring.

Photo 2/14   |   We dig the vented rear spoiler, which actually helps direct a bit of airflow over the rear window to maintain visibility in inclement weather. However, we found the roof rack rails don't play nice with many older aftermarket rooftop accessory rails, so if you're considering adding cargo up there, plan on hitting your local Land Rover dealer for a set of crossbars.

The Discovery was equally at home on open highways, where its sleek aerodynamics, low-profile Goodyear tires, and super-smooth engine just loved to eat up the miles. Even on stretches of I-15 in Utah where the posted speed limit is 80 mph, it's easy to look down while cruising and discover (pun intended) you're inadvertently exceeding the legal limit. And with a best tank of 18.9 mpg (and with several other 18-plus-mpg freeway tanks), it's nice to see all that footloose and fancy-free freeway velocity doesn't come at a huge fuel penalty. The one exception to the freeway economy was when we hitched a 2,500-pound trailer to the rear and towed it from Phoenix to SoCal, earning a pair of back-to-back worst mpg runs of 12.5 and 12.8 mpg.

The Discovery has seating for seven, but if you're planning on hauling anything larger than a couple of boxes of Kleenex behind the third row, it's much easier to fold down one of the rearmost seats and pile in the suitcases. A standard airline carry-on suitcase does technically fit between the tailgate and third-row seat, but as Austin Powers' nemesis in Goldmember would say, it's toight. We looked into putting our old Yakima roof rails on the Disco for an impromptu trip but discovered (there's that pun again) the super low-profile, partially submerged roof rails require a clamp-type rail mount that, at the time of our testing, wasn't fully supported by most aftermarket rack companies. The dealer had them, but they were back-ordered, so we never played with rooftop toys.

Photo 3/14   |   When the pavement ends and the trail begins, the Discovery comes into its own. The Terrain Response 2 system works flawlessly in virtually any terrain, with seamless traction, unperceivable traction control and ESP systems, and true locking center and rear differentials.

One of the questions we always ask ourselves at the end of these yearlong evals is: Would we buy this for ourselves? And in recent years, the answer hasn't been quite so cloudy. On the one hand, the Discovery definitely delivers on a few fronts that are most important to us, namely off-road performance, spirited acceleration, ample power, and acceptable fuel economy. On the other hand, this particular test vehicle has had a host of issues you really shouldn't have to deal with if you've plunked down almost $75,000.

Photo 4/14   |   The spare tire is mounted under the rear cargo area and is lowered via an access port from the inside. There's not a whole ton of storage space available, but it does come in handy for chucking muddy gloves, jumper cables, or the odd dirty diaper. Hey, the Disco is a family vehicle, after all.
Photo 5/14   |   While the supercharged V-6's 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of power was more than adequate and its average 16.7 mpg as tested this installment is very good, we never gelled with the low-speed driving characteristics of the gas-powered Si6. It's purely an issue of calibration, but the throttle tip-in on this vehicle has been maddening. You depress the throttle to pull away from a stop and the vehicle barely goes until you're into the pedal deeply, and then—BAM—the Discovery lurches forward like you're a 15-year-old driving for the first time with your learner's permit.
Photo 6/14   |   The side-view mirrors house both cameras that help provide a 360-degree in-dash video of the vehicle and its surroundings for parking and/or off-roading, as well as lamps that illuminate the ground when entering the vehicle at night.
Photo 7/14   |   Three days before our long-term evaluation came to an end, we started getting a random "Coolant Level Low" warning sign in the dash when first starting the vehicle in the morning. A check of the coolant level confirmed it wasn't low, and with little time to make it to a dealership for investigation, we're going to chalk it up to just another electronic glitch, of which this vehicle suffered many.
Photo 8/14   |   The Achilles' heel in terms of off-road performance is the tire aspect ratio. We'd love to see what a new Discovery properly outfitted with steel rocker armor and some tires with decent sidewall aspect ratio could do.
Photo 9/14   |   Quality of paint is something rarely taken into consideration, but we've found most Land Rover paintjobs are more durable than most, with sagebrush "pinstriping" usually washing away in a coin-op car wash.
Photo 10/14   |   We normally keep the air suspension in the mid-level setting, but even with the Discovery riding at its tallest height, we find harsh topping and rough rides aren't things to be concerned with. The suspension tuning is highly refined in most Land Rover products, and the 2018 Discovery is no exception.

Report: 4 of 4
Previous reports: May/June 2019, July/August 2019, September/October 2019
Base price: $65,490
Price as tested: $74,875

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 30,088
Miles since last report: 9,820
Average mpg (this report): 16.7
Test best tank (mpg): 18.9 (highway @ 65 mph, no traffic)
Test worst tank (mpg): 12.5 (highway @ 65 mph towing 2,500 pounds)

This period: N/A
Problem areas: (Unchanged from last installment) Throttle tip-in still inelegant—lags then hits hard; door seals squeaking as chassis flexes; continued infotainment freezing and interface quirks; coolant low warning lamp

Logbook Quotes
"Rear seat ingress is borderline medieval torture for a fullsize adult. "
"Why does the infotainment system freeze up so much?"



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