• Elegant and tough styling in the same package; superb ride quality; hugely capable off-road in any terrain; seven individual seats; premium interior, loads of space; long list of standard features; excellent diesel engine with outstanding fuel economy; great audio.
  • Handling not as good as some rivals; standard screen too small for this kind of money;

OUR RATING
8 / 10



Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

The one-millionth Land Rover Discovery rolled off its UK production line in March 2012 and there’s no sign of sales abating for the vehicle that was essentially born as a more affordable version of the Range Rover.

Land Rover’s more utilitarian big 4WD has evolved successfully since its 1989 inception, with the Discovery 3 of 2004 making a huge leap in terms of increased levels of luxury and on-road manners.

It was replaced just five years later with the Land Rover Discovery 4, though this was more of a major facelift than full generational change.

In 2012 the ‘Disco’ received various tweaks to the entertainment and satellite navigation system along with a new entry-level eight-speaker sound system with colour display and full Bluetooth connectivity with phone and music streaming.

The mid-grade Hi-ICE Harman Kardon audio unit was also upgraded from 9 to 11 speakers and output boosted from 240 to 380-watts, while the top-spec premium Harman Kardon unit grew from 14 to 17 speakers with output rising from 480 to 825 watts.

There were also a few minor nips and tucks to the switchgear and three new option packs for the Discovery: The Technology Pack, the Vision Assist Pack and the Cold Climate Pack.

Some more substantial changes will arrive with the 2013 model Land Rover Discovery, scheduled to arrive on showroom floors in December 2012, before an all-new, lighter Discovery benefitting from aluminium construction will emerge in 2014.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

By the end of the year, gone will be the aging 2.7-litre TDV6 and in its place, a more powerful 3.0-litre SDV6, developing 155kW and 520Nm (up from 140kW/440Nm) for the entry-level Discovery.

The current high-output (188kW/600Nm) 3.0-litre SDV6 we tested will remain in service, as will the 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine.

Both diesel powertrains will gain the svelte eight-speed ZF transmission with paddle shifters and rotary gear selector from the current Range Rover and Jaguar line-up, while the V8 petrol model will stick with a six-speed box.

The current 2012 Land Rover Discovery SE comes with a fairly long list of standard kit that includes power everything, push button start, cruise control, auto headlamps and wipers, rear parking sensors, auto diming rear vision mirror, full leather trim including steering wheel and dashboard, electric parking brake, 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps and seven-seats.

However, the lack of a decent-size entertainment screen in what is otherwise a premium grade cockpit seems like a glaring omission for a vehicle priced from $83,400 – before on-road costs are added.

You wouldn’t quite call it plush inside the Discovery SE. What sets it off nicely, though, are the generous number of polished aluminium highlights spread around the console and door panels. These, along with a thick-rimmed, multi-functional leather steering wheel provide a quality look and feel inside the Discovery 4.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

There’s plenty of clever space inside the Discovery, too, with seven individual seats. And the third row folds neatly under the floor when not required.

For extra long loads such as surfboards and ladders, any of the three second-row pews can be lowered to accommodate such cargo.

Rear seat legroom is just shy of limo class, while even third-row passengers are looked after in this regard.

Boot space behind the second-row seating is substantial and although this row folds dead flat – they do so on top of the seat cushions rather than recess into the floor.

The Discovery’s relatively low beltline, large glass area and upright seating provide the optimum driving position with unencumbered visibility on all sides.

While the leather seats are certainly supportive, the leather itself is rather coarse and not as cosseting as that used in other Land Rover models, but the upside is that it seems more durable and, therefore, more kid-friendly.

Hit the starter button and there’s a fair amount of that familiar diesel clatter to be heard, at least from the outside. But once you’re motoring along at a steady 60km/h or above, those inside the Discovery 4 will be hard pressed to pick this as a diesel.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

Only during sustained acceleration from a standing start can the clatter be heard inside the cabin, and even then it’s reasonably well muted, if not refined.

With a responsive 600Nm of torque on tap from just 2000rpm, there’s little need to ever be gung-ho with the throttle unless you’re overtaking a B-double on the F3. But even that’s a relatively lazy affair with this six-speed auto and its well-spaced ratios.

It’s certainly not sluggish of the line, either. Load up the throttle and the twin-turbo set-up delivers 500Nm of torque in just 500 milliseconds from idle.

Around town the ZF transmission shifts seamlessly, but is quick to move into top gear in the interest of fuel conservation.

Our weeklong test included the whole gamut of driving conditions from city driving to the power-hungry sand on Stockton Beach and yet our average fuel consumption ended up at a commendable 8.2L/100km.

While the Land Rover Discovery 4 is light years ahead of the first-generation Discovery when it comes to on-road dynamics, it’s difficult to conceal the vehicle’s 2600kg kerb weight when cornering.

That’s despite the Discovery 4 employing a sophisticated air suspension system designed to counter lean when turning. While body roll has been significantly reduced in comparison with earlier models, it is, however, still pronounced during tight cornering manoeuvres.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

It’s an issue that should be largely removed with the next-generation Discovery that is said to shed up to a half a tonne when it arrives in 2014.

What’s not in question is the ride quality on board the Discovery – it’s simply outstanding on-road and off-road.

Even driving on Sydney’s worst maintained roads (and there are plenty to choose from) at a variety of different test speeds does little to upset the cushioned ride the Discovery 4 affords its passengers.

The brakes are also very capable and offer nothing but confidence-inspiring stopping power with a nicely progressive brake pedal. The variable ratio steering rack provides plenty of weight in the steering for good high-speed stability on the freeway, which lightens up for city driving and parallel parks.

Apart from its people-moving capability, load space carrying capacity and exceptional ride quality, it’s off the beaten track where the Land Rover Discovery 4 does some of its best work.

Stockton Beach, a 32-kilometre stretch of sand from Anna Bay to Stockton near Newcastle in NSW provided a suitable location for the off-road part of this review given we already know what the Discovery 4 is capable of in the mud and water from previous tests.

This is where Land Rover’s arsenal of four-wheel-drive technology comes into play. We dialled up the Sand setting on the Discovery 4’s Terrain Response system as well as raising the ride height – simply by rotating a dial and pressing a button.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

The Discovery 4 SE runs standard 19-inch low profile 255/55 series tyres far more suited to the bitumen than any sand dune. However, in order to provide a wider footprint on the particularly soft sand, we reduced the tyre pressures from 34psi to 12psi before commencing the run.

We also turned the Dynamic Stability Control off, as this can retard progress in soft sand by killing engine power in the event of wheel spin.

Progress along the beach at a steady 45km/h was largely effortless for the Discovery 4 and that’s with the transmission left in automatic mode.

We also climbed a few small sand dunes with extra caution as the sand was unusually soft and up to 45cm deep, but even with three adults and their kit on board the Land Rover Discovery largely made light work of the task.

Stockton Beach is a proper 4WD adventure, especially in such arduous conditions. It can also be a challenge for any large SUV, especially so for the weighty Land Rover Discovery 4.

The Discovery’s versatility is exceptional. On the one hand it’s a luxurious family wagon capable of transporting seven passengers in supreme comfort, and on the other it’s a highly capable off-road workhorse that more than lives up to the 64-year-old Land Rover heritage.

Land Rover Discovery 4 Pricing (before on-road costs)

• 2.7 TDV6 – $68,400
• 3.0 SDV6 SE – $83,400
• 3.0 SDV6 HSW – $95,100
• 5.0 V8 – $129,400


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LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4 BREAKDOWN

Land Rover Discovery 4 Review
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  • Zaccy16

    That new 3.0 litre 155 kw 520 nm diesel would be good in the territory! much better than the dated 2.7

    • Cherylrozen

      When are they updating this old beast? Also, what the heck are those prices on the upper spec models? For a functional ugly car with a nice interior this car is grossly overpriced.

  • Wantmypatrolback

    The biggest issue I have with mine is the VERY poor tyres, and little or now option for AT tyres. All the electronic gizmos in the world do nothing to overcome zero grip. Even on hard wet grass. It’s a joke.

    And with the news of the 2.7 being dropped for the 3L does this mean the entry level model will gain the larger brakes of the 3L which means a minimum wheel size of 19″ and there for NO off road tyres? If so then this is still an on road car with too many nanny aides that interfere rather than help.

    • Pro346

      You get 100℅ right all the electronic gizmos in the world won’t help if its got road tyres! An old school offroader with good off road tyres and suspension would go much further in the rough than this thing!

    • MINI_CS

      There are 18″ rims for the Discovery 4 with a good range of AT tyres to suit. 

    • Bluesoup

      A good friend of mine has a RR sport with 20″ AT tyres on it, He didn’t have a problem finding them. I think it’s called a tyre shop!!  A good place to start maybe????

      • No fears

        Troll or Tool?

        • Bluesoup

          Just stating Facts, Maybe you should ask yourself this question????

          • No fears

            Your history speaks for itself.

  • pixxxels

    I still hear differing opinions about whether Land Rover and Discoveries still have the reliability issues of old. I wish the review addressed this, because I love the Disco, but I’m not convinced it’d be the wisest choice against the LC 200 (admittedly much more ugly and much less premium). 

    One thing that gets me about this car is the lack of storage space for the driver. Seriously, there is f*ck all spaces apart from the cup holders and the bottle holders in the door (which are ridiculously low). It seems like such a common sense and important thing…

    Can’t wait to see the new lighter 2014 Disco. Diets are exactly what all Land Rover models need right now.

    • Tom

      I’ve been thinking the exact same thing – I am hearing mixed reviews about its reliability. That said, there are a fair few reports of owners having problems with the LC200 as well. I was leaning towards a Prado, but other than the reliability reputation, the Disco is a better car in almost every way – its just that reliability is obviously a pretty huge consideration in a car such as this. 

      • tiddy

        Interestingly Tom there are reliability issues with the D4D diesel Toyota have in the Hilux & the Prado in both Europe & NZ add that to the problems with LC200, maybe Toyota reliability is not what it used to be.

    • MINI_CS

      The Discovery 4 has been more reliable in general than the problem prone LC200. Lots of ex LC200 owners on the Land Rover forums. 

      • disco

        I have owned a disco 3 and now a Disco 4 2.7. the disco 4 is now 2 years oldthe oly issue we had in the disco 3 was bad fuel and blown a pump. which landrover covered under warranty which is something toyota will not do. The disco 4 has been trouble free with no warranty call backs. we do only little off road work but both have towed our 3.5ton boat and 3 ton caravan many kms

  • Karl Sass

    I never knew the Disco was so heavy to begin with. That screen looks like a bad joke, reminds me of the MY06 VE Omega. Other than that it has a lot of appeal.

  • kiran

    who really needs a massive computer screen in front of them/ The one provided is fine it does the job without all the nonsense and it makes the cabin look more legit

  • MisterZed

    I thought this was called the LR4 – wasn’t the Discovery name dropped back in 2005?

    • Anthony

       No, still Discovery.

    • Daniel

      It’s the LR4 in the US, the Freelander is the LR2 there as well. Discovery 4 everywhere else.

  • Jerrycan

    The achieved average fuel consumption is sensational for such a heavy vehicle with aerodynamics of two blocks of flats and similar frontal area!
    While it may seem expensive you do get a lof technology for your money, and I mean where it is really needed, the suspension, the ability raise and lower ride height, proper AWD etc.
    I really would like one of these, but maybe wait for the 2015 model.
    That will be unstoppable in the rough

  • bobo

    Have been thinking of getting this to replace my ML benz. Another colleague has a Disco 4 as well and has been trouble free so far…..but I replace my vehicles every 3 years (salary package) so any reliability issues will be covered under warranty.

    • ABCDEFG

      Poor reliability will bite you one way or another, low resale for example.

      • MINI_CS

        Said like a true Toyota tragic… Check the used values sunshine you may just be surprised. 

      • Legnab

        SO that explains VW’s high resale values , nice car the disco .

  • ABCDEFG

    Assuming nothing fell off or give up, could this make it to Cape York on the 19″ LA rappers’ wheels?

    • Daniel

      Well I know from experience that a Vogue on 20s didn’t get stuck on Moroccan sand dunes, so probably. But even so, most people who are serious off roaders never keep the stock wheels anyway. 

  • Tomas79

    But due to the larger brake sizes they will not fit on anything above the base 2.7l model

    • MINI_CS

      Bugga… Then I better take those 18′s that don’t fit off my 3.0L Discovery 4.

      I was part of the initial group buy that went looking for a wheel maker to create some 18′s that would fit the 3.0L D4. Compomotive created a variation of their PD1880 wheel to fit the 3.0L D4 these wheels are now in regular production and are sold world wide. Google PD 1880

  • Jibs

    tiddy, I think you are right, I believe that Toyota sells its vehicles on the base of the reliability of its older models such as the 90′s Hilux and 70′s land cruisers, one thing they do have is service and parts all overy the country, so you have that, and then people buy them because others do.
    i do like the Prado but it is under-powered and expensive even against the Pajero

Land Rover Discovery 4 Specs

3.0 SDV6 SE : 3.0L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP AUTOMATIC - 4D WAGON
Car Details
Make
LAND ROVER
Model
DISCOVERY 4
Variant
3.0 SDV6 SE
Series
MY12
Year
2012
Body Type
4D WAGON
Seats
7
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
3.0L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO V6
Max. Torque
600Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
180kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
69.7W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x90mm
Compression Ratio
16.0
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
4x4
Final Drive Ratio
3.54
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
82
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
9.3L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
2583
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1887mm
Length
4838mm
Width
2022mm
Ground Clearance
185mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:3500  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11.8
Front Rim Size
8x19
Rear Rim Size
8x19
Front Tyres
255/55 R19
Rear Tyres
255/55 R19
Wheel Base
2885
Front Track
1605
Rear Track
1612
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
19 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 9 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Tow Pack
Interior
Leather Upholstery, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Rear Air Conditioning, Heated Front Seats, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
20 Inch Alloy Wheels
Driver
Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation
Engine & Transmission
Electronic Differential Lock
Entertainment
Television
Exterior
Metallic Paint, Xenon Headlights
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
12-O-19
Country of Origin
UNITED KINGDOM