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Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
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A great combination of space, practicality and brilliant off- and on-road ability

Land Rover Discovery SUV (17 on) - rated 4.3 out of 5
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PROS

  • Despite its size, it's surprisingly economical
  • Good off-road, and great to drive on it
  • Seven forward-facing seats, electrically operated

CONS

  • Premium pricing, with costly options
  • The styling still divides opinions
  • Do you really need something quite so massive?

PROS

  • Despite its size, it's surprisingly economical
  • Good off-road, and great to drive on it
  • Seven forward-facing seats, electrically operated

CONS

  • Premium pricing, with costly options
  • The styling still divides opinions
  • Do you really need something quite so massive?

Verdict

The fifth-generation Discovery is the centrepiece of the Land Rover product line-up, and as such is easily the most important model in the range – even if it doesn't sell the most. It's a very different prospect to the previous four incarnations, losing much of its famous rugged charm. The way it looks has divided Discovery lovers everywhere. But there's no denying that Land Rover has created a premium product, that's engineered beautifully – and should have masses of appeal for those who want to use their Disco as their primary vehicle, and not feel they're compromised on-road by its mud-plugging DNA.

The Discovery finds itself on the same shopping lists as other upscale off-roaders, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, which can't hope to keep up with the Land Rover off-road.

Land Rover Discovery: family-friendly tech

It now feels much more like a luxury vehicle but without sacrificing practicality. Refreshingly the more modestly-priced versions are arguably the best in the range – the Sd4 engine is the pick of the bunch, while both money and weight can be saved by choosing the manual seat folding mechanism. It is the most practical car in the class, and by virtue of this and its even stronger image it will be first choice for many buyers.

Improved efficiency, more powerful engines in the Land Rover Discovery

As with its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport sister models, the Discovery moves to a more sophisticated aluminium body and chassis to help reduce weight and improved efficiency. Depending on the model, the weight saving is as much as 450kg over the old car, although it remains a large and relatively heavy model at 2.1 tonnes even in its lightest form. Where it does lag behind the opposition is the lack of a mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid version. Land Rover is committed to electrifying its range, but that's taking time – and we've yet to hear when the Range Rover PHEV's plug-in drivetrain will make it to the Disco. So, if you're looking to move away from diesel, the best option is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Si4 model.

Land Rover Discovery interior

The UK range starts with the twin-turbo four-cylinder British-made and designed Ingenium diesel engine, developing 240hp at 4,000rpm. Land Rover claims that even with this smaller engine, the Discovery can cover the 0-62mph run in 8.0 seconds. The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel (260hp) and the impressive supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol, developing 340hp are also available if you're looking for more power and performance.

Four-wheel drive hardware in the Land Rover Discovery

Its permanent four-wheel drive system drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with the now-ubiquitous (to Jaguar Land Rover) cylindrical gear selector. To ensure it's as impressive off-road as its predecessors, it comes with a low ratio transfer case for the ultimate in mud-plugging ability. In addition, the Discovery receives all of Land Rover’s Terrain Response systems. There is a selection of off-road driving modes, which as well as making the most of its four-wheel drive system, uses clever electronics to keep it from spinning its wheels when the going gets tough.

Currently, the Discovery is the most capable off-roader Land Rover has ever made. It has a 900mm wading depth, and its maximum ground clearance is 283mm. Not only that, but it has half a metre of axle articulation, which means it can deal with huge potholes and obstacles that get in the way of one side.

Discovery SVX package

Concerns that the Discovery looked a bit soft saw a rugged SVX package of modifications debut at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, with the intention of injecting some of the toughness that made its predecessor so successful. The makeover included beefier bumpers with silver-coloured skidplates, a raised ride height, roof rails, protruding towing eyes and lots of orange detailing, Underneath is Hydraulic-Active Roll Control (H-ARC) designed to make the SVX even more capable off-road, while reducing body-roll when cornering on asphalt sufaces.

Powering the Discovery SVX is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine producing 525hp and 625Nm of torque. Not only will it prove to be quick, but also thirsty. Official figures have yet to be revealed but don't expect it to reach 25mpg in the real world.

The Land Rover Discovery's styling divides opinions

Final word. Despite its sophisticated new looks, which ape those of the smaller Discovery Sport, it's hugely capable off road. The smoother look seems to be taking some getting used to for older Discovery owners, though. Some details such as the stepped side windows and lop-sided tailgate are a brave attempt to link it with the past, this is clearly a car that takes its maker upmarket to fight the Germans head-on.

Should you buy a Land Rover Discovery?

The Land Rover Discovery is outstanding in many areas – as a car for large families, it's near unbeatable. Thanks to its sheer size and usefulness, and as long as you're not limited by parking space, there are many compelling reasons to buy one. Assuming you can stomach its looks. Sure, it's not as economical or as green as its rivals, and there are currently no hybrid options, but then it makes a much better fist of going off-road when the going gets tough. It's arguable just how often buyers will choose to do this – but in our books, in order to be a good SUV, it needs to excel off- and on-road.

That the Discovery achieves this balancing act in spades is a great achievement. It's a car that that you can buy with confidence, especially considering its super-strong residuals. Just don't expect to be light on your wallet, and let's hope it's reliable.

Land Rover Discovery rear view

Read on for the full review to see how the Land Rover Discovery SUV performs