Review: Land Rover Discovery

Very little comes close to the Discovery’s on and off road abilities

10 Jul 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Outstanding off road abilities

  • Luxurious and comfortable

  • Spacious

Cons

  • High maintenance and running costs

  • Noisy at high speeds

  • Large for driving in towns

Our expert rating

In 2004, the Land Rover Discovery 3 was launched. It was miles better than its predecessor, and came stuffed to the brim with off-road wherewithal which made it a 4x4 King. 

A 2009 makeover, hailed as the Discovery 4, saw the introduction of a new engine, as well as gentler styling and a much better cabin.

Performance

Star billing on the Discovery 4 goes to the efficient and refined TDV6 3.0 twin turbo diesel engine.

It isn't a fast car or a quick-responding one, but this model and the older Disco 3 versions all feature full time four wheel drive, and are capable of offering enough grunt for a pleasing on-road experience.

Landrover discovery engine

Ride and handling

Land Rover's engineers transformed the ride of the Discovery in 2009, so the Discovery 4 is what you want to try and go for. The near-legendary off-road capabilities of its predecessor were even improved.

The comprehensive changes included enhancements to the car’s award winning Terrain Response system, which helps optimise the vehicle for virtually all driving situations. The car is fantastic on road too, thanks to impressive refinement, good handling and an agile ride.

Landrover Discovery

Interior space

The good things about the previous Discovery 3 model still exist - proper-sized seats for up to seven adults, and acres of boot space with five passengers aboard and the rearmost pair of chairs stowed.

Pretty much everything else though was changed. Inside, the finish from a 2009 model still looks box-fresh and the luxury HSE variant has a leather-trimmed dash to match the seats. Gadgets also include keyless entry for easy access.

Interior landrover discovery

What to know before you buy

The Discovery is quite high maintenance, in the sense that it will set you back plenty of money during its time with you. Land Rover dealers are generally expensive for servicing, and other running costs, such as road tax, and insurance aren’t cheap.

You will also have to have deep pockets for replacement tyres. Also, be wary if the car you're looking at has a tow bar fitted, because this may indicate it’s had a tough life lugging trailers, boats or horse boxes around.

The engines and the transmissions used are hardy but pricey to mend if they do go wrong, so listen out for knocking or rattling, and ensure that all the electrics work flawlessly.

Alas. the Land Rover Discovery is a top target for thieves, so pay a small amount for an HPI check. This will ensure it isn't a stolen/recovered vehicle or an insurance total loss. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it could save you the price of another car if the Discovery is stolen or cloned.

The electric parking brake has also been known to stick, stopping you from driving anywhere, so test it out thoroughly when you get behind the wheel of your possible purchase.

Alternative cars

Very little comes close to the Discovery’s on and off road abilities, and the fact that used examples aren't as common as you'd expect, proves people have worked this out. However other worthy alternatives include the BMW X5, Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7.

Discovery alternative cars

Overall verdict

From 2009 the Discovery became very much an executive carriage and a step further away from a vehicle you’d happily use on the farm. However, should you feel you’ve had enough of the black stuff and you want to take a trip off-road then the Disco 4 will take you across a river or along a furrowed forest track without breaking into a sweat.

It is also a first rate tow car, which you would expect of an SUV. So, if you’re in the market for a luxury used vehicle with amazing space, comfort, and a sheer talent for coping with any surface you care to drive over, then you should buy a secondhand Land Rover Discovery.

There really is so much to love and so little to dislike about this beautiful 4x4 vehicle.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall