Luxury midsize SUV
Past experience with the current Land Rover Discovery, introduced in 2017, has proven this premium SUV to be stylish, packed full of excellent and easy-to-use off-road features, and available with a silky and efficient diesel engine.
Its lighting system is among the best around, and its available power-folding rear seats turn the cabin from a seven-seater to flat-bottomed cargo cavern in a matter of seconds. Shoppers considering a Discovery will find it a worthy contender when looks, capability, and smooth, efficient power are near the top of their respective wishlists.
Feature content includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping tech, a 360-degree camera system, power-folding rear seats, climate-controlled front seats, a panoramic sunroof, rear-seat entertainment console, premium stereo provisions, and plenty more.
Under the hood, look for a supercharged 3.0L V6 that drinks premium unleaded in exchange for 340 hp and a stellar soundtrack. An available turbodiesel V6 with 254 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque delivers world-class refinement, and slashes the fuel bill, while both were replaced in recent years with inline-four- and six-cylinder gas options.
2021 brought updated tech and looks with a refresh that revised the controls and content inside. Owner-reported reliability, however, doesn’t top the list of niceties this Land Rover is known for.
What Owners Like
Land Rover Discovery owners tend to rave about its looks, ride comfort, off-road capability, and easy access to a variety of confidence-boosting features available for both highway and off-road driving. The lighting system and stereo system are rated highly, and most owners love the rich, glossy, and upscale feel of the Discovery’s cabin.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes include noise levels and ride comfort in certain specific situations, and shoppers should note that some Discovery models may be equipped with wheel and tire combinations that may lead to noise and harshness on coarse surfaces. Other complaints reported by some owners include front seat comfort on long trips, and a fiddly touchscreen interface.
According to this lengthy discussion in an owners forum, a notable number of Discovery owners have reported frustratingly laggy throttle response in some situations that may require a dealer visit to fix. On your test drive, slow the vehicle to a near-stop with moderate brake pedal pressure, but instead of stopping, immediately jump back onto the gas pedal with a reasonably firm poke.
In this situation, the Discovery should quickly gear down, leap ahead, and accelerate. If that’s not the case – and especially if you notice an abnormally long delay before the vehicle accelerates – the machine in question likely needs some professional attention in the form of a software update that reprograms the drivetrain’s computer.
Some owners have reported water leaks, likely from a leaking windshield. Many have not. Here’s some more reading. Water leaks are among the top problems you don’t need in your life, and test-driving shoppers are advised to take two specific steps to prevent future frustration. First, using a garden hose or coin-op car wash sprayer, apply as much water as you can to the roof and windshield of the vehicle, to encourage any water leaks to reveal themselves.
After a full soaking, return to the cabin and spend a moment making sure everything is dry, and no water is visibly dripping. Carefully inspect the forward headliner for signs of water staining or dampness, particularly around the dome light console and sun visor clips. Dampness or water staining in these areas could be signs of an existing leak.
Inspect all interior carpeting, confirming dryness. Pay close attention to the front footwell areas, too. Finally, check the cargo area by removing its cover, carpet, and any trays until bare sheet metal is visible. A vehicle with a water leak will tend to have pooled water or rust in this area.
Buying a used vehicle with an undiagnosed water leak is not advised, especially with the risk of electronic system damage. Owners have reported dealers replacing windshields in a matter of days to fix the leak. Some owners believe that the windshield leak may coincide with elevated wind noise levels detectable from within the cabin at higher speeds, possibly from the upper right corner of the cabin. Here’s some more reading, and some more.
Key Fob Transmitters
A small number of owners have reported issues with the keyless entry system that can prevent the easy operation of the vehicle’s door locks and, in others, even engine startup. To avoid unpleasant surprises, be sure to fully test all available key fobs, confirming proper operation of door locking and unlocking, and ignition. While testing one key fob, be sure the other is kept far from the vehicle.
If present, system trouble will be fairly apparent, and possibly referenced by error messages in the instrument cluster. New hardware may be required to correct problems, and some owners have reported the need to have dealers diagnose problems with the keyless entry system, sometimes after towing the vehicle in. Most have not.
The Experts Say
The 2022 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) ranks vehicle dependability based on survey data collected from thousands of owners of vehicles three years into ownership. For 2022’s study (which surveyed owners of 2019 model year vehicles), Land Rover scored dead last, with the most problems reported per hundred vehicles of all brands included.
Among all makes and models in the study, infotainment system problems make up the majority of reported complaints from owners. Accordingly, test-driving shoppers set on a Land Rover Discovery from this era should confirm proper functionality and connectivity of the infotainment system and all functions and sub-menus, as well as checking for outdated navigation maps, and confirming an adequate number of charge ports and USB connections.
A few additional tips can help prevent headaches and stress during ownership of your new-to-you Land Rover Discovery. First, avoid the urge to tune its engine or modify its powertrain electronics with power-adding chips, tunes, or performance-boosting modules. Some owners enjoy these modifications, though they can negatively affect fuel economy, reliability, component durability, and even remaining warranty coverage.
Second, avoid disconnecting your Discovery’s battery in any situation, and do not attempt to fix electronic trouble or warning and error messages by disconnecting system power. Without proper training and equipment, disconnecting the battery in a complex modern vehicle like the Discovery can result in a cascade of problems.
Third, consider opting for a used Discovery sold as part of a dealer’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program, which requires vehicles to meet higher quality and reconditioning standards than privately sold models. Look for roadside assistance, extended warranty options, and other perks – including a multi-point inspection – ahead of your purchase. Vehicles sold as part of a CPO program typically have up-to-date software and maintenance work on all systems, helping start the ownership experience off reliably.
Here’s a list of recalls.