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Go-Anywhere Luxury: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Test Drive

Land Rover calls the Discovery its “most versatile SUV yet.” It needs to be. It’s not a regular sport utility vehicle. It’s a luxury SUV, which means it has do everything a high-end sedan does while providing the space and capability of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The Discovery’s versatility is even more important these days because buyers just can’t seem to get enough loaded trucks and posh utility vehicles.

We spent several days in a 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury and found out that you really can have it all in a vehicle. The Discovery was a roomy rig full of advanced technologies, creature comforts, thoughtful features, and impressive off-road capabilities.

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery Exterior

Land Rover engineers were able to fit all of the Discovery’s desirable content and remarkable engineering inside of a sleek package. Visually, the fifth-generation Discovery is a radical departure from its boxy predecessors, but if you look closely, you’ll see it has a modern, aerodynamic version of the Disco’s signature stepped roof. The rear license plate sits in an asymmetrical panel on the gesture-activated liftgate – a nod to the rear end styling of previous Discoverys (the third- and fourth-generation models were known as the LR3 and LR4, respectively, in North America).

Land Rover dressed up our test vehicle with a variety of cosmetic options. They started with the Silicon Silver metallic paint. Then they filled the wheel wells with a set of 21-inch split-spoke wheels. They also added the Dynamic Package, which blacked out the grille, letters on the hood, fender vents, mirror caps, and liftgate trim. Those accents coordinated perfectly with the smoky silver paint and matched the dramatic black roof.

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery Interior

A luxury SUV should make a statement. The outside of our Discovery press loaner told the world it was a thoroughly modern and stylish vehicle. The inside made it clear that the cabin of our Discovery was a special place to be. How did it do that? Three words: White leather seats. In Land Rover speak, they were Light Oyster leather seats, but that didn’t make them any less striking. Thanks to the Seven Seat Luxury Climate Comfort Package, they offered heat, ventilation, and a massage function in the first row, heat and ventilation in the second row, and heat in the third row.

Designers complemented those beautiful Oyster seats with other neutrals. The Dynamic Package added futuristic Titanium Mesh trim on the door panels and dashboard, a dark brushed aluminum center console, metallic paddle shifters, and sport pedals. Every time we gripped the steering wheel or passed a hand over the door panel caps, we felt soft Windsor leather.

As cool as the InControl Touch Pro navigation system was, we have to admit being floored by something far less advanced. With the press of a button on the touchscreen, we could instantly lower the second and third rows of seats and free up all 85 cubic feet of cargo space. Controls in the cargo bay allowed us to individually raise and lower rear seats.

Every row of seats in the Discovery had plenty of room for full-sized adults, which is not something we can say for certain other three-row SUVs. Yours truly is 5’10” and had a comfortable amount of legroom in the second row and – surprisingly – the third row.

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery Performance

Our Discovery test rig had a supercharged 3.0-liter gas V6 under its hood. It delivered its 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque smoothly and quickly through an eight-speed automatic. According to the EPA, that combination is good for 16 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg combined.**

After enjoying the Discovery’s various luxuries for a few days, we headed out to an off-highway vehicle park to test out its abilities on unpaved roads. Our review vehicle was equipped with a multi-level air suspension that gave it more than 11 inches of ground clearance. When we had the suspension fully raised, the Discovery had a maximum approach angle of 34 degrees, breakover angle of 27.5 degrees, and departure angle of 30 degrees.

Land Rover engineers combined those dimensions with capable hardware and advanced off-road technologies. We were stunned by how well the factory tires maintained their grip on slick rocks and soft mud. The Capability Plus Package included a variety of helpful features for when the going got tough. All Terrain Progress Control allowed us to set a crawl speed between 1.2 and 19 mph, then managed throttle and braking to maintain it over challenging terrain so all we had to do was concentrate on steering. A locking rear differential was there to give the Discovery extra traction in sticky situations. Terrain Response 2 was ready for anything. It could adjust the Discovery’s throttle mapping, steering, suspension, and traction control according to the type of surface we traveled over, whether it was grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, sand, or rocks. We raised the Disco to its highest suspension setting, pointed the nose toward a steep uphill section of the park that was too difficult for another vehicle that had just attempted to conquer it, and practically sailed to the top with an awe-inspiring smoothness and lack of effort.

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery Safety

Our Disco came standard with a multitude of airbags, Emergency Braking and Emergency Brake Assist, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Land Rover upped its level of protection by loading it with a substantial amount of options. A 360-degree parking aid kept us informed of our surroundings. We could keep our eyes on the road and our speed at the same time thanks to a head-up display. We didn’t have to worry about toggling between the low beams and high beams at night because the Vision Assist Package contained Auto High Beam Assist, which automatically fired up the brights when conditions permitted and switched to the low beams when necessary. We were especially grateful for the Drive Pro Package because it not only had Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and Reverse Traffic Detect, but it also had Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist to maintain the speed and following distance we selected and bring the Disco to a complete stop in case traffic ground to a halt.

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery Overall

Do you want the luxuries of a high-end sedan, but need the interior room and capabilities of a four-wheel-drive vehicle? Go to an AutoNation Land Rover dealership and test-drive the versatile 2018 Discovery. We spent several days doing that on- and off-road and enjoyed the best of both worlds. Prices for the 2018 Discovery start at $52,090.* Our generously equipped Discovery HSE Luxury review vehicle had an as-tested price of $82,694.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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