Land Rover makes off-roading a ‘no-brainer’

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Taking delivery of a Land Rover Discovery could be compared to taking delivery of a working lightsaber. While it has distinct capabilities that bring a real thrill to simply being in its presence – you are forced to go looking for someplace (or someone) to test it out on. Testing out a 2018 Discovery (or a working lightsaber) can bring with it some real risks – but that’s the job I’m tasked with and I must find the challenge somewhere.

With a base price of $61,500, Discovery is a gorgeous luxury vehicle that offers impressive off-road capabilities. Taking it to task for my week-long test period does involve a commitment to NOT returning the SUV with pieces hanging off or large swaths of paint scrapped off. Seeking out boulders to climb in Chicagoland might be a bit too aggressive, not unlike seeking out Darth Vader as your first fling for the lightsaber. I settle for a secluded off-road suburban site that has plenty of sand hills and hill-decent opportunities.

DISCOVERY CAPABILITY

The 2018 Discovery has been touted as the most rugged and capable SUV in the Land Rover lineup. It is part luxury and comfort with a rugged capability that makes you feel you can go anywhere.

Equipped with Advanced Tow Assist, Discovery can haul more than 7,700 pounds. That’s pure power at hand, but Land Rover is not in the business of tossing its clients into the deep end.

In my opinion, the driver-assistance in this SUV creates as close as you can get to idiot-proofing any off-road escapades.

ALL-TERRAIN

Mentioning the all-terrain progress control operation is worth it, even if there are no boulders to climb in Chicago. Once engaged, this high-tech system is essentially cruise control for off-roading, simply take your foot off the pedals, point the vehicle on an intended path and wait as the vehicle crawls up whatever you put in front of it.

SANDY

I found the Discovery to be an amazing ride in the sand. Simply turn a knob on the center console and the Discovery does all the work, preparing itself for the challenge without any concern for the driver’s understanding of the engineering that went into making it possible.

Truth is, you don’t need to know what a center-differential is, let alone how to lock it in. The Discovery does it all for you. First, the suspension elevates for more clearance in the soft sand. Then it allows you to merely accelerate and climb. It made me look like an off-road expert. And, yes, I was very comfortable doing it, too.

SOME NUMBERS

If you want to know the real data and numbers, how about 20-inch alloy rims; a 34-degree approach angle, a 35-inch wading depth, and a 35-degree side slope. Off-roaders will be impressed by the capabilities – others may just love the fact that if it snows they will feel safe.

Under the hood, Discovery is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 (340 hp) or a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 (254 hp) for the SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury models. The SVX models come powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 (518 hp).

All variants come exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy is rated at 16/21 for the gas and 21/26 mpg for diesel.

THE LINEUP

With five SUVs currently in Land Rover’s lineup, and a sixth on the way, there are several options for 7-passenger seating. Land Rover is well-appointed, which means a Discovery is a viable option to a Range Rover Sport, which costs $10,000 more.

Land Rover first built its reputation on off-road capabilities and that has never waned. This 2018 Discovery is as capable off-road as anything I have ever driven. What possibly is even more impressive is the way it handles the pavement, which is where most of the modern Discoveries will be planted. This is a smooth operator, capable of cushioning the road, deadening the outside noises and enveloping its passengers in real luxurious surroundings.