Six things you need to know about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Td6
After a considerable rework and the addition of diesel power, we head back to the Disco.
Words by: Adam Allen
Last year, Land Rover managed to move 764 LR4’s from dealerships across the country. That number is impressive for a vehicle that wore a 2016 model year designation yet traces its lineage back to the very first offerings to wear a Land Rover badge back in 1948. Here you had a model that enjoyed all the trappings of a modern luxury SUV- supple leather interior, power accessories galore and the latest driver assistance bits- yet it felt many years older out on the road. It’s no secret that the LR4 was a heavy thing, and certainly it didn’t excel in the aerodynamics department. Those were the culprits mainly responsible for blunting the edge of the 5.0 litre V8 it was motivated by, not to mention that power had to make its way to the wheels through a series of heavy duty transfer cases and differentials. Saddled with a curb weight that could hardly be described as svelte, fuel economy was dismal- our average hovered near that 20L/100km threshold, and that was using as judicious a throttle foot as possible.
To shed the LR4’s reputation as an unabashed fuel swiller, Land Rover decided to put the Discovery on the same aluminum intensive diet enjoyed by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Let’s be frank here folks- dieting isn’t easy. When you hear “you need to lose 5 kilos”, the work that needs to be done to achieve that goal is always much higher than anticipated. Still, the engineers found a way to pare a whopping 181 kilos of mass from the Discovery’s curb weight- at 2,540 kilograms it’s no lightweight, but now there is no worry of the tarmac it’s sitting on buckling under the immense bulk. What we’re left with is a leaner, meaner and much better-looking version of an old favorite.
After our most recent go-around, here’s what we know:
- You’ll get much better fuel mileage, especially with the Td6 model.
Land Rover is sticking with diesel power as other manufactures scramble to distance themselves away from compression ignition. Relative to the 3.0 supercharged V6 that comes standard, the diesel unsurprisingly enjoys a huge advantage in overall fuel economy. Witness our observed consumption in the Range Rover Sport Td6 we driven recently; at 9.7L/100km, we’ve seen worse mileage from family sedans that have much less power and weigh considerably less. It’s 258 horsepower may not seem like much, but the 443 lbs/ft. it churns out is a lot- enough to move the Discovery around with a relaxed shove no matter the engine speed or terrain. Were we spec’ing a Discovery out with our own dollars, the premium asked for the diesel over the supercharged V6 gasoline engine would be a no brainer. It’ll also tow up to 3,500 kilos.
- It looks MUCH better.
The LR4 had its contingent of fans who liked its stepped box on wheels proportions, but no one would argue that it wouldn’t fare very well in a beauty contest. This Discovery turns the design ethos from one that was decidedly industrial feeling to one that has a fashionista vibe about it. All the sharp edges have been gently rounded and the front and rear ends accented by full LED lighting nudge the Discovery into the 21st century. It looks fairly understated wearing black paint as our tester did, and you could pull off a vibrant hue easily. In a nod to nostalgia, the Discovery incorporates a few design cues from the LR4 although they don’t work as well here and seem a bit forced. The stepped roof makes it look like its carrying a backpack and the-off centred licence plate caused mild fits for those of us with OCD. Some even remarked that the Discovery shares a resemblance with Ford’s Explorer. Whatever your opinion, it’s undeniable that the Discovery wears the Land Rover design language well and will look right at home whether you’re at the country club or the soccer pitch.
- The huge rolling stock doesn’t ruin the ride.
Our Discovery rolled on properly huge 21” wheels wrapped in fat tires at all four corners, which did a great job of boosting the Discovery’s visual wattage, especially when the air suspension is in it’s lowest setting. Before we turned a wheel, we were worried that these big wheels might hurt the ride and impart wonky body control as it picked its way through the pockmarked pavement of our city. Luckily, our fears melted away in the first few kilometers of driving. The optional air suspension, which we’ve swooned about after experiencing it in other Land Rover products is wholly adept at not only providing a buttery smooth ride and smart body control but also taming those short sidewalls. As great as the air suspenders are, they can’t defy the laws of physics and even in its sportiest setting, it becomes clear that the Discovery prefers a relaxed pace rather than carving apexes.
- The interior is a huge improvement over the LR4.
Those familiar with the leather and wood trimmed confines of contemporary Land Rover interiors will feel right at home in the Discovery. In its evolution from the LR4, it’s gained a few tricks. Rear seat passengers are treated to their own video displays which should help ease the grind of long trips- a class leading amount of legroom will be appreciated as well. There’s a large number of nooks and crannies to store your stuff but our favourite was the covert compartment you can access by folding down the infotainment system. Other things that can fold with power assistance are the second and third rows of seats, leaving you unstressed to configure the voluminous cargo area to your heart’s content. They fold flat too, for those times when you decide to take on a home improvement project and need to load up with materials at your local hardware store. There’s also a power folding cargo shelf you access from the rear liftgate, and we admit we thought that feature was needless frippery when we first encountered it. However, it made for the perfect perch to take in a beachside fireworks display, so it earned our thumbs up in the end.
- It’s still got the chops to head far off the beaten path.
This is a Land Rover we’re talking about here, so it comes with a respected off-road pedigree woven into its DNA. We might hesitate to take our luxury rig into the bush where trees and rocks claw at body panels, wheels and suspension pieces, but those brave enough to try will be able to make short work of gnarly terrain. Our tester came equipped with all the hardware necessary to break trail including Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2, hill-decent control and the air suspension that can hike up the body to keep the bits underneath out of harm’s way. A welcome offshoot of the diesel engine is a deep well of torque to help you claw your way around, and the throttle tip in characteristics are ideal to dole out each individual horsepower so as not to overwhelm the tires.
- There could be a hotter version in the pipeline.
Peer into the engine bay, and it’s clear there is enough room under the hood for a bigger engine. We’ve heard whispers that Land Rover is in the midst of developing its own inline-six diesel which should offer more power and even better fuel economy than the oil burner in our tester. Of course, the manic supercharged V8 engines that make better than 500 horsepower look like they would fit comfortably between the shock towers, too. Those engines might not help with fuel economy or off-road prowess, but they should certainly satiate the speed freaks who have resigned themselves to the need of a three-row family SUV.
2017 Land Rover Discovery Td6 – Specifications
- Price as tested: $92,050
- Body Type: 4-door, 7 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 254 @ 3,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 440 @ 1,750 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,543 kg (5,586 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.7L/100km (24 mpg)