With a 27 year history the Discovery model name has always been associated with sophisticated 4WD capability.

We are testing here the Land Rover Discovery HSE SD4 which is a higher spec model with the smaller diesel engine. Recently we tested the TDV6 SE and you can read that review here. Many features are the same between the vehicles.

It’s good to see the Discovery back to its best.

Exterior

The Land Rover Discovery has gone soft in its looks. This latest version looks much rounder, softer and way smaller than it actually is, especially from the front.

However I can hear the enthusiasts moan about the loss of the traditional shape. It does retain some subtle design elements from its predecessors such as the stepped roof, shaped rear door area etc.

The shape is also misleading in appearance, especially when you look at the approach and departure angles, wading depth and ground clearance. You scratch your head and wonder how. Again clever and very stylish design.

2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE SD4 interiorInterior

The interior ambiance of space and comfort is immediately noticeable. The driver is spoiled with generous front 12 way adjustable electric leather seats that will cocoon the passengers for many kilometres. They are heated as well for those colder mornings.

Taller drivers are well accommodated for.  The electronic height and reach adjustable steering wheel feels just right in the hands. There are simple controls for cruise control and the central dash MFD as well as paddle shift levers. The indicator and wiper stalks are easy to see and reach behind the spokes.

The dash is a familiar two dial with customisable MFD between. White on black and crisp graphics. Simple and excellent driver ergonomics.

Next to the driver in the well-designed centre console and transmission tunnel. The centre console bin is a decent size, two tiered and has convenient USB and 12V inputs there as well. There are convenient storage spots everywhere.

The centre stack houses the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen. Crisp graphics and easy-to-navigate menus incorporate the latest navigation and entertainment technologies including door-to-door navigation and seamless iOS and Android connectivity.

The rear seats are better suited for two adults and a child. While there is enough head and shoulder room, the knee room is limited for taller passengers if there is a tall driver.

Third row seats are electronically controlled and accessed from the sliding middle row and access is for the acrobatically inclined. Both third-row seats incorporate ISOFIX mounting points (four in total).

The boot is large and can accommodate enough luggage for a family trip. It also has handy hooks for hanging shopping etc. and a cargo barrier can be added. Rear seats fold flat and the middle row folds flat in a 40/20/40 configuration to allow a huge and practical storage area.

Features

The HSE version is full of standard features being a higher spec but some highlights include:

  • 14-speaker Meridian digital surround system with an additional subwoofer
  • Optional DAB and Wi-Fi.
  • Up to six 12V charging points and as many as seven USB sockets
  • Ambient Interior Lighting
  • Natural Shadow Oak veneer
  • Treadplates with metal inserts
  • Acoustic laminated windscreen
  • Rain sensing windscreen wipers
  • Automatic headlights , LED headlights with signature DRL
  • Signature Hi-Line tail lights
  • Auto High Beam Assist
  • Front and Rear fog lights

2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE SD4 rear

Options fitted to the test vehicle:

  • Sliding front sunroof and fixed rear panoramic roof – $4,370
  • CAPABILITY PLUS PACK (inc. All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), Terrain Response 2, and Active Rear Locking Differential) – $3,270
  • 21″ 10 SPLIT-SPOKE ‘STYLE 1012’ – $2,450
  • Electrically reclining 2nd row seats – $1,980
  • Surround Camera System – $1,650
  • Activity Key – $960
  • Four-zone Climate Control – $950
  • BLACK PACK – $920
  • 360 degree Parking Aid – $850
  • Advanced Tow Assist – $850
  • Heated front seats – $850
  • Heated windscreen – $480

Drive and Engine

The Land Rover Discovery SD4 HSE is powered by a 2.0L SD4 Ingenium diesel engine that produces 177 kW/500Nm. This runs through a smooth and responsive ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Fuel use is minimal, even with a heavy right foot and we got around town about 9.5-10L/100K. On a trip that dropped to around 6.5L/100K.

Sitting and driving there are a couple of things you immediately notice. The first is that the window sill and centre console bin are at the perfect height for resting my elbows. The second is that the visibility is excellent, especially the ‘A’ pillars that are designed in such a way to minimise the impediment.

In isolation the SD4 is a good engine. It will lug the hefty weight of the Discovery around town with a modicum of fuss, quietly. It displayed a little reluctance down low but once up and going, especially on the freeway the smooth engine cruised without fuss. The steering was engaging and responsive to minor inputs and allowed the driver to drive, which might sound silly but it isn’t.

Land Rover have performed an amazing design job with the suspension. The Discovery drives better than almost any other true 4WD on the market. It’s quiet, smooth on the road with the sublime suspension soaking up almost all road irregularities, comfortable and really enjoyable.

Safety

  • A bunch of airbags everywhere
  • Lane Keep Assist With Driver Condition Monitor
  • Adaptive Cruise Control With Queue Assist
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Blind Spot Assist With Reverse Traffic Detection
  • Dynamic Stability Control
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Roll Stability Control
  • Cornering Brake Control
  • Gradient Acceleration Control
  • Hill Descent Control and Hill Launch Assist
  • Electric Parking Brake
  • Brake pad wear indicator
  • Emergency Brake Assist
  • Anti-lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
  • Surround Camera System
  • Trailer stability Assist

2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE SD4 4WDGood Bits:

  • 4WD capability
  • Features and comfort
  • Ride, Handling and Safety

Not So Good Bits:

  • No third row A/C vents
  • Lack of 4WD Tyre options for 20 inch wheels
  • Prefer the TDV6 engine

Summary

Originally designed as a more affordable 4WD than the Range Rover, the Discovery has morphed into a luxury 7 seat family SUV that sees most of its time doing the school run or towing a horse float to riding school. At these tasks the 5th generation excels.

It looks stylish doing the school run, yet somehow although it matches others for luxury and comfort, it looks less pretentious and is more practical.

It was easy and comfortable to drive, very economical, felt lithe despite its size and provided a smooth ride over all surfaces. This is a perfect family SUV that combines prestige, comfort and the promise of adventure, retaining its strong 4WD DNA.

The fifth-generation model benefits from Land Rover’s strong, safe and light full-size SUV architecture, delivering comfort and adaptability like no other.

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Facts and Figures: 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE SD4

  • Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel producing 177kW/500Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic 4WD
  • Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: UK
  • Price: from $115,830