Four Sea­sons Wrap

Our third go-around with Land Rover’s flag­ship model of­fers highs and a few DEFs

Automobile - - Contents - By Aaron Gold

We set out to dis­cover how ca­pa­ble the new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery is. Plenty, as it turns out.

V-8’s 315. We were also in­ter­ested to see how well the new Disco would dance with us from a qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity stand­point dur­ing a year of heavy use.

The 2017 Land Rover Dis­cov­ery HSE Lux­ury Td6 first landed at our Detroit of­fice, where the big seven-seater proved an in­stant hit. Ed­i­tors praised it for its at­trac­tive, high-qual­ity in­te­rior, which wasn’t sur­pris­ing given it was a loaded HSE Lux­ury model. For its $66,945 base price, the seat­ing was swathed in Wind­sor leather, a mas­sive panoramic glass roof opened up the cabin, and an 825watt Merid­ian sound sys­tem kicked out the jams. Op­tions in­cluded a rear-seat en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem, a safety suite with adap­tive cruise and all man­ner of nan­nies, a ter­rain sys­tem with an ac­tive lock­ing dif­fer­en­tial, and its Namib Or­ange metal­lic paint. All in, the dam­age came to $79,950.

Out on the mean streets, the Dis­cov­ery drew near uni­ver­sal ac­claim for its com­fort­able and com­posed ride. “For as tall and bulky as it looks, the Disco han­dles daily driv­ing du­ties well,” ed­i­tor-in-chief Mike Floyd said. “Yeah, it’s go­ing to roll a bit into cor­ners, but that’s to be ex­pected. It’s quick for its size, de­vours road im­per­fec­tions, and is quiet in the cabin at speed.”

Pas­sen­gers also found lit­tle to com­plain about. Dur­ing a trip from Detroit to Mil­wau­kee and back, the three peo­ple spread across the sec­ond row re­ported no is­sues, and they lauded the nine USB ports ar­ranged about the cabin. Still, not ev­ery­one loved ev­ery­thing about the er­gonomics, namely your hum­ble au­thor. I was never able to find a com­fort­able spot to rest my left el­bow.

Given its co­pi­ous di­men­sions, the shiny or­ange Land Rover often dou­bled as the of­fice pickup, haul­ing dogs, gear to cab­ins, spare tires, etc. But con­trib­u­tor Marc No­orde­loos

had trou­ble car­ry­ing an 81-inch-long box, which fit eas­ily into his Volvo V60. The prob­lem, he dis­cov­ered, was the Rover’s in­ner tail­gate, which mo­tors down to form a weight­bear­ing load floor (and, as we later learned, is very ex­pen­sive to re­place when it breaks). “It takes up more space than you think,” he said.

We also made sure to get the Disco a lit­tle muddy. It proved a master of all types of ter­rain, thanks in part to its heigh­tad­justable air sus­pen­sion, which gives the Land Rover all the ground clear­ance it needs but only when it’s needed. As an added bonus, the sus­pen­sion au­to­mat­i­cally drops to its low­est height when the Disco is parked, a fea­ture much ap­pre­ci­ated by the more ver­ti­cally chal­lenged mem­bers of our staff.

When it came to haul­ing trail­ers with the Dis­cov­ery (which has a 7,700-plus-pound tow­ing ca­pac­ity and a seven-pin wiring har­ness), no one ex­pe­ri­enced any is­sues of note, and the ex­tra torque the diesel en­gine of­fered proved wel­come. Eric Sch­wab, our VP of sales, used the Dis­cov­ery as his get­away car for La­bor Day week­end. “Tows a hell of a lot bet­ter than my Jeep,” he said. Yours truly towed an Airstream Base­camp travel trailer deep into Death Val­ley with it, and it wasn’t un­til I hit the steep­est grades of the Panamint Range that the Disco be­gan to feel like it had 2,600 pounds of Airstream on its hitch.

Then there was the epic trip se­nior ed­i­tor Nel­son Ire­son em­barked on from Detroit, to his for­mer home in Arkansas, then on to our Cal­i­for­nia HQ, with some un­planned hairi­ness baked in.

“The first 900 or so miles be­tween Detroit and Lit­tle Rock were com­pletely con­tained, and the long range of the diesel Disco’s tank made for easy cruis­ing,” he said. “But due to a co-worker’s mix-up, the three-sea­son orig­i­nal equip­ment tires I had car­ried with me and had in­stalled at the Lit­tle Rock Land Rover deal­er­ship were not in fact the said three-sea­son tires but rather high-per­for­mance sum­mer tires—for a Dodge Hell­cat. The the­o­ret­i­cally sticky rub­ber was a non­is­sue across the rest of Arkansas, Texas, and New Mex­ico, but come the high moun­tain passes in Ari­zona, I was slip-slid­ing in four-wheel drifts. That’s good fun, or can be, when you’re not tow­ing a U-Haul trailer and white-knuck­ling be­tween jack­knifed semis. But even with all the drama, the Dis­cov­ery proved to be a great road trip­per from a mov­ing-things-here-to-there per­spec­tive. It took me about a week to work out all the kinks that seat and seat­ing po­si­tion put in my back, though.”

De­spite the ku­dos for its tow­ing acu­men and longdis­tance haul­ing, ed­i­tors re­ported some off-the-line is­sues with the Td6. “My big­gest beef is with its slow, clumsy tipin,” Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa said. “It’s pro­nounced enough for me to lose con­fi­dence blend­ing into traf­fic. I feel like I have to wait for big­ger gaps than usual.” No­orde­loos was a bit more gen­er­ous: “There’s a bit of throt­tle lag from a dead stop, but that’s been the case with other diesel SUVs I’ve lived with.”

Over its 24,000-mile ten­ure with us, the diesel Dis­cov­ery av­er­aged just north of 22 mpg, a lit­tle shy of the 23 mpg EPA com­bined num­ber but a darn sight bet­ter than our ’06 LR3, which av­er­aged a pal­try 15 mpg.

Did we save money? Prob­a­bly not. First and fore­most is the diesel’s $2,000 price premium over the gas-pow­ered model. Then there’s the fact that diesel fuel is more ex­pen­sive than gaso­line in most states, though the petrolpow­ered Disco’s premium fuel re­quire­ment nar­rows the gap. But the great­est cost was one that blind­sided us: Diesel ex­haust fluid (DEF), which must be re­plen­ished to keep the Td6 en­gine’s emis­sions sys­tem work­ing.

When the Disco first started to run low on DEF, we brought it to Sub­ur­ban Land Rover in Troy, Michi­gan. They charged us a ridicu­lous $269.95 for a 3.7-gal­lon re­fill, in­clud­ing $160 for la­bor (to open and pour a few bot­tles). When we had the Disco’s oil changed at 17,985 miles, Owens Mur­phy Land Rover of Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, topped off the DEF tank, this time charg­ing us $57.

The next time the Dis­cov­ery sig­naled it was low on fluid, we de­cided to DIY our DEF, pay­ing 16 bucks for a 2.5-gal­lon bot­tle. A week or so later, the Disco’s dash lit up with a mes­sage that the DEF qual­ity was in­cor­rect and the en­gine would be dis­abled in 260 miles. We rushed to Land Rover South Bay in Re­dondo Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, and found there was a tech­ni­cal ser­vice bul­letin (TSB) with a soft­ware up­date to ad­dress the prob­lem of false and/ or early DEF warn­ings. Even so, we were ad­vised to stick

with dealer-sup­plied DEF. We were skep­ti­cal (and re­main so; from what we un­der­stand, DEF is DEF), but we de­cided not to take any chances. Af­ter the Death Val­ley tow­ing trip (work­ing the en­gine hard seems to in­crease DEF con­sump­tion), the Disco asked for more fluid, and we went back to Land Rover South Bay, who charged us $165 for a 4.5-gal­lon fill-up. (The price to do the same us­ing DEF from Pep Boys? $25.98 plus tax.)

The DEF ex­pe­ri­ence served as a re­minder that ex­pen­sive Eu­ro­pean cars aren’t just ex­pen­sive to buy; they can be ex­pen­sive to main­tain. Our sole oil change: $173. New fuel fil­ter: $190. And when the hinges broke on the in­ner tail­gate (which ad­mit­tedly was our fault), re­plac­ing it cost a whop­ping $850. All in all, we spent some $1,760 in main­te­nance, DEF fluid, and other re­pairs, and that’s not count­ing the war­ranty work or the snow tires we swapped on (and later off) af­ter the Disco’s Detroit-Arkansas-Cal­i­for­nia trip.

As for build qual­ity, early on the rub­ber trim around the A-pil­lar came loose; this turned out to be the sub­ject of a TSB. Then we no­ticed that one of the Disco’s rear win­dows wasn’t tinted to match the oth­ers, which is the type of qual­ity buga­boo that should never hap­pen—let alone on a ve­hi­cle that stick­ered at al­most 80 grand (the cor­rect glass was swapped in un­der war­ranty). We logged a cou­ple of in­ci­dents where the en­gine would stum­ble or the trans­mis­sion would hunt be­tween fourth and fifth gear. No TSB was ever is­sued for this one, but we had the ECU flashed at the dealer with the lat­est soft­ware, and the prob­lem never re­curred. The Dis­cov­ery’s touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem was also sin­gled out. Sev­eral staffers found it laggy and dif­fi­cult to use and re­ported it oc­ca­sion­ally lock­ing up. There were also a hand­ful of re­calls, all dealt with dur­ing our other ser­vice stops.

So it wasn’t en­tirely trou­ble-free, and the diesel en­gine we so deeply de­sired proved a mixed bless­ing. Even so, the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery turned out to be one of the most well-liked Four Sea­sons ve­hi­cles in re­cent mem­ory, and we were gen­uinely sad to see it go. Back in ’06 we pre­dicted that a lighter, more fuel-ef­fi­cient, and bet­ter-built LR3 would be one of the best SUVs on the mar­ket. From our per­spec­tive, at least, the new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery has turned out to be (mostly) just that. AM

The Disco was a hit with most of our staff. The body rolls a bit in the cor­ners, as ex­pected from an SUV this big, but ev­ery­onelauded its com­fort­able ride.

Our Dis­cov­ery spent a lot of time off-road. Heigh­tad­justable sus­pen­sion gives plenty of ground clear­ance only when needed, and the elec­tronic aids made easy work out of the steep­est ter­rain.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.