We all thought the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery was going to be a suburban yuppie-mobile with weak, sad off-roading abilities. While the first part of that clause is undoubtedly true, Land Rover has dropped the full details on the new Disco, and it looks like off-road capability is going to be more than just “okay.” The new Discovery has the specs to be an absolute monster.
At today’s Land Rover Discovery launch, company reps said the car’s “archetypal customer” is a busy family that wants a “good quality of life.” In other words, the Disco is for rich hedge fund managers with a bunch of rugrats, and who regularly vacation in the Hamptons— not exactly the most exciting group of people to design cars for.
But while you’d think creating a car for that demographic would yield a soft vehicle with compromised off-road capability, the new seven-passenger Disco’s off-road specs are impressive no matter how you look at them.
With the optional $1,500 air suspension, the fifth-gen Discovery—based on the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport platform— has a 34 degree approach angle, a Ridiculous For An SUV This Big 27.5 degree breakover angle, a solid 30 degree departure angle, and 11.1 inches between the belly and the ground.
Add to that the fact that this thing can ford 35 inches of water thanks to an intake that sucks air through a tortuous channel in the hood to separate out the water, and you’ve got a vehicle with off-road specs that can take on giants.
Compared with the LR4—the new SUV’s predecessor— the fresh new Disco has a two degree higher approach angle, a five degree better breakover angle, three degrees of extra departure angle, and nearly two inches more ground clearance.
The iconic Range Rover—the pinnacle of the Land Rover brand— actually has a one degree worse breakover angle, very similar approach and departure angles, the same water fording depth, and only slightly more ground clearance.
If that’s not impressive, consider this: the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon— the god of four-door off-road vehicles— actually has a six degree worse breakover angle, an inch less ground clearance, and five fewer inches of water-fording capability.
And while the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon has significantly better approach and departure angles, it’s that breakover angle that tends to hang the Jeep up on its belly while off-roading. So this Discovery might be able to out-do the Wrangler on some hilly terrain.
On top of all that, the Disco gets fancy gadgets like All-Terrain Progress Control (cruise control for off-roaders) and an off-road system that adjusts vehicle parameters based on the terrain. Plus, there’s a locking center diff and an optional locking rear diff.
Still, we need to be honest with ourselves. This isn’t a Wrangler. There’s no proper locking front differential, and even with its 500mm of suspension travel, it’s hard to beat the Wrangler’s solid axles when it comes to articulation.
The Disco also can’t compete in the crawl ratio front, as the axle ratios are 3.31 for the 3.0-liter diesel and 3.73 for the 3.0-liter V6— both sharing a 2.93:1 low range gear found in the same transfer case as the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
But nobody in their right mind would compare the Discovery to a Wrangler. The fact that we just did is a testament to how impressive Land Rover’s new seven-passenger family SUV’s off-road specs are.
So sure, it’s a total suburban yuppie-mobile with power rear seats that can fold with a cell-phone app, dropping rear air suspension for easy grocery loading, a rear foot sensor for opening the tailgate, stadium seating, tons of storage cubbies, USBs in all rows, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, lane keep assist, and a whole bunch of other features that would make this SUV perfect for rich families from Connecticut.
But that doesn’t mean this new Disco won’t kick major ass off-road.
Correction: As is often the case with new cars, it was unclear whether the new Discovery is a 2017 or 2018 model year car; it is a 2017. This post has been updated.