The Discovery name is back in the US once again, but this time it’s not the boxy, big-windowed, tall box that we now call the LR here in the states. The Discovery name (appended by ‘Sport’ as in ‘sportcoat’, maybe?) is applied to Land Rover’s entry-level offering, a crossover-sized, sleek looking SUV that somehow manages to cram in three rows of seats. What do you need to know before you buy a Discovery Sport? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
If you’re a visually-oriented mammal like myself or, say, a lynx, the first thing you’ll notice about the Discovery Sport is the striking design, which Land Rover seems to have put a great deal of thought into.
Whatever team did the lighting design deserves special commendation. The headlights and taillights are bold, graphic, and highly distinctive, and both share a common truncated-circular quadrant theme. They look really good, and give the car a highly distinctive face and ass. Land Rover is using aluminum for the hood, tailgate and roof (if you don’t get the optional panorama roof, which you should) for a nice bit of weight savings.
The Disco Sport deals remarkably well with its interior space. Most notably, this is the smallest three-row, 7-seat vehicle you can get in the U.S. today, and that’s impressive. That optional third row isn’t exactly roomy, but it can certainly work in a pinch, and for kids it’s just fine.
Plus, there’s some nice convenience details all around, like head-level HVAC vents for every passenger and everyone gets their own 5V USB outlet. That’s all actually useful stuff.
Like Jason Torchinsky said in his review, despite the fact that it’s built far more like a car than a traditional, boxy, rugged Land Rover, the Discovery Sport comports itself remarkably well over rough terrain, and on normal, good roads (where, let’s be honest, most of these will spend the majority of their lives) it feels quite good. Grip is good, the steering is responsive (if a bit numb feeling) and even for a taller car it doesn’t feel top-heavy or unbalanced.
The Discovery Sport is a FWD-biased four-wheel drive car, so some purists may feel it’s not really suited for ‘serious’ off-road use. That may be true, but your definition of “serious” would need to be pretty fucking somber. There’s good ground clearance, decent approach and departure angles (25° and 31°) and it’ll ford up to two feet of water.
The Discovery Sport uses a 2.0-liter turbo four that’s essentially a Land Rover-built EcoBoost. The Disco Sport’s engine makes 240 HP and 250 lb-ft of torque at a pretty low 1750 RPM, and the engine felt like a pretty good match for the car.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport launched as an all-new model for 2015. Land Rover calls it a “premium compact SUV.” It comes with a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4, 9-speed transmission, available seating for seven and standard all-wheel drive.
For 2016, Land Rover has only made a few tweaks to the Discovery Sport. They’ve made InControl Protect and InControl Remote standard on all Discovery Sports. The former integrates emergency assistance and roadside assistance calling buttons, while the latter is a smartphone app that allows owners to find their vehicles in a parking lot, check if doors are locked and windows are closed, remote-start their vehicles and activate climate control adjustment. Other than a new exterior color, that rounds out the changes for 2016.
While the rest of the world gets a few diesel options, we here in the U.S. will have to make do with a 2.0-liter turbo four gas engine based on Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost. That mill is bolted to a nine-speed ZF 9HP48 transmission, and is enough to propel the 3,957 pound CUV to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 2.0L Turbo I4 240 @ 5,800 rpm 251 @ 1,750 rpm
The Discovery Sport doesn’t do so hot in the fuel economy department, scoring a ho-hum 22 MPG on the combined EPA cycle. With a small 2.0-liter engine and nine gears to choose from, you’d hope for a bit better mileage. The Lexus NX200t, for example, makes a similar 235 horsepower and weighs about the same as the Disco, but scores 24 MPG combined with only a six-speed auto.
So gas mileage isn’t the Disco’s forte, but it’s mileage figures still aren’t that far below those of its competitors.
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
- 2.0L Turbo I4 Automatic 20/26/22
Trim Level Breakdown
The Land Rover Discovery Sport comes in three trim levels: SE, HSE and HSE LUX, all of which come with all-wheel drive as standard.
Steering for all Discoverys is electric and suspension is a strut-type design up front and a multilink in the rear. Brakes are 12.8-inch vented discs up front and 11.8-inch solid rotors out back.
- SE: Starts at $37,455. Notable standard features: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 9-speed automatic, power partial leather seats, Terrain Response, rearview camera, rear parking aid, power folding mirrors, automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, two-zone climate control, eight-inch infotainment screen, hill descent control, push-button start, 18” alloy wheels. Notable options: Vision Assist Package: Xenon headlamps with LED signature, front fog lamps ($800); Climate Comfort Package: heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield ($1,300); Convenience Package: power tailgate, passive entry, auto-dimming interior mirror, HomeLink wireless control system ($950); Row 3 Seating Package: third row seat, climate control with high level vents to third row ($1,750); Audio Upgrade: 11-speaker audio system with satellite radio ($800).
- HSE: Starts at $41,955. Notable standard features over SE: Xenon headlamps with LED signature, front fog lamps, panoramic roof, 10-way power grained leather seats with memory, passive entry, Homelink, powered tailgate. Notable options: Climate Comfort Package ($1,600); Row 3 Seating Package ($1,750).
- HSE LUX: Starts at $45,996. Notable standard features over HSE: 10-way Windsor Leather seats with memory, configurable mood lighting, aluminum treadplates, 11-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Navigation system, InControl Apps (links smartphone to automobile to start, find and check on vehicle’s fuel level). Notable options: Climate Comfort Package ($1,600); Row 3 Seating Package ($1,750).
We think the Disco Sport makes the most sense in its lower trim levels, where its starting price of just under $37,455 actually makes it a pretty reasonable bargain. The basic setup has good, partially-leather seats and a decent audio system, but you’ll be using your phone for nav and streaming.
There’s a sweet spot in the middle with the Sport HSE trim level at just under $42K, and that’s mostly because it includes the panoramic roof, which wereally liked. Above that the HSE Luxury trim offers (among other things) Nav, satellite radio and adjustable mood lighting, but we’re not sure it’s worth it at that point. But in the high 30s/low 40s, it’s a solid option, especially if you want something with three rows that’s not sized like a bison.
MSRP: $37,455-$45,570 Top Speed: ~124 MPH
Acceleration: 7.8s to 60
MPG: 20 city / 26 hwy / 22 combined
Engines: 2.0L Turbo I4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 240 hp/251 lb-ft [2.0 turbo]
Curb Weight: ~3,957 pounds IIHS Safety Rating: NA
Transmissions: 9-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, 4WD
Photo credit: Land Rover