What's New for 2001
Land Rover introduces three new trim levels to the Discovery Series II lineup -- SD, LE and SE. New paint options are Oslo Blue and Bonatti Gray.
Like the Land Rovers of yesteryear, the current Discovery Series II exhibits excellent off-road prowess and distinctive, hardy styling. But it also utilizes advanced performance features that promise a more capable on-road driving experience. The success of Lincoln's Navigator and Lexus' LX 470 has convinced Land Rover to create a kinder, gentler SUV.
Land Rover's Discovery was originally created to fill the niche Land Rover saw between the rugged, utilitarian Land Rover Defender and the plush yet thoroughly capable Land Rover Range Rover. It has been Land Rover's best-selling model in the United States, a trend that should continue for 2001.
Land Rover has improved the Discovery Series II range for 2001 by introducing three new trim levels to the model lineup -- SD, LE and SE. The trims are similar, with differences based mainly on the type of interior materials used. SE models get a standard 220-watt, 10-channel premium audio system, HomeLink and an Integral Class III trailer tow hitch receiver. All models can be had with the optional rear-seat package that adds forward-facing third-row seats, a Self-Leveling Suspension (SLS) and a hydraulic rear step.
The SE is the only Discovery Series II model that can be equipped with Active Cornering Enhancement, a hydraulic system that reduces vehicle body lean during cornering. All models come with Hill Descent Control, a driver-activated feature which supplements traditional braking when descending steep, slippery slopes in extreme conditions. Other features include a self-leveling suspension, traction control and electronic brake distribution.
Land Rover products are known for their rugged nature, and the Discovery Series II is no exception. Taken off the beaten path, the Disco takes on difficult terrain with ease. Every model features permanent four-wheel drive and a standard adaptive automatic transmission that adjusts to different driving styles. Beneath the vehicle's hood is a 4.0-liter V8 engine that makes 188 horsepower and 250 foot-pounds of torque. We'd appreciate more power, especially since new 240-horsepower V6-equipped models like the Nissan Pathfinder and Acura MDX put the Land Rover's eight cylinders to shame.
Inside the Series II, both front and backseat passengers sit high for a superior view. Headroom and legroom aren't an issue (cavernous doesn't begin to describe the overhead space), but hip and shoulder room are very tight. Entry and exit is also problematic. The quality of interior materials is quite good, though better build quality can be found on other high-end SUVs like the BMW X5.
Legendary off-road capabilities and a high level of luxury are the Discovery Series II's best points. If Land Rover could iron out the ergonomic and build quality issues, plus give the Discovery Series II some more shoulder room, wider door openings, and increased horsepower, they'd have a candidate for best small SUV status. Until then, the Discovery is an expensive and quirky SUV with an interior design that falls short of its exterior demeanor and overall capabilities.