First Drive: 2003 Land Rover Discovery

Almost enough of a good thing

Mark Williams
Oct 23, 2002
Although Land Rover says the 2003 Discovery has more than 350 revisions and upgrades, there are few major ones: a new engine, transmission, and better brakes. The bigger 4.6L OHV V-8 (rated at 218 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque) offers nearly a 20-percent jump in output over the previous Discovery's 4.0L V-8. The huskier motor notwithstanding, the combination continues to feel underpowered and sluggish around town, but comes alive at full-throttle, and off-the-line acceleration feels stronger as well.
Other significant improvements include an upgraded four-wheel-disc system, a super-smart load-leveling setup (able to manually or automatically adjust during towing or difficult terrain situations), and a new jewellike headlight arrangement, resembling that on the all-new Range Rover. The freshened Discovery still drives like most traditional, ladder-frame SUVs and offers the added benefit of Land Rover's exclusive--and outstanding--active handling suspension (Active Cornering Enhancement). For challenging 4x4 tasks, the Discovery remains a mud, rock, and extreme trail-climber with strong low-range gearing and a full-time four-wheel traction-controlled drive system. Pricing is up about $1000 (beginning at $34,350), with fully loaded seven-passenger HSE Discoverys touching $44,000.

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