Used 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport offers style, comfort and utility combined with an above-average ability to traverse snow-choked roads or muddy trails. If you're looking for a midsize luxury SUV with an extra degree of go-anywhere gusto, this newest Land Rover is worth a look.
What's new for 2016
Automakers have spent the last 20 years or so migrating from truck-based SUVs to car-based crossovers that offer better space and fuel economy at the expense of rarely used off-road capability. That's a problem for a brand like Land Rover, which built its reputation on SUVs that combine jungle-bashing ability with English elegance. So it's no surprise that when Land Rover introduced the smaller Discovery Sport model last year, it retained its off-road abilities. The Disco Sport can't quite scale boulders the way the bigger LR4 does — it lacks hard-core hardware such as a low range or locking differentials — but thanks to the clever Terrain Response system, drivers can easily claw their way over hill and dale, no matter how much mucky mud or slippery snow is beneath their wheels.
The Discovery Sport's styling is smooth and simple inside and out; it's the antithesis of the boxy LR4 and seems to almost thumb its nose at the harsh corners and jarring lines of the old Defender. In terms of size, it's slightly bigger than some of its compact competitors, but not big enough to be considered a true midsize SUV. While we like the elegance of the materials, some might find the Disco Sport's interior just a bit too simple. But they should have no reason to complain about room: The Sport offers plenty of passenger space in the first and second rows, though the folding third-row seat, like many such offerings in this class, is best suited to small children.
Our biggest complaint with the Discovery Sport is the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Though it matches rivals for raw numbers, its real-world performance is lacking, and the indecisive nine-speed automatic transmission doesn't help. The Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 all best the little Land Rover on performance, and they offer cabins with more visual interest. When it comes time to turn off the pavement, however, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the crossover that will take you farther.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Land Rover Discover Sport is a compact crossover SUV that comes standard with seating for five. A third row of seats that comes bundled with its own air vents and USB port is optional. There are three trim levels: SE, HSE and HSE Lux.
The SE base model comes well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, privacy glass, heated power-folding outside mirrors, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a rear foglight, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, partial leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, 60/40-split second-row seats (folding, sliding, reclining), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button keyless ignition, an alarm, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a touchscreen interface and a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio jack, four USB ports (one for media, three for charging only) and an iPod/media player interface.
Options include the Vision Assist package (xenon headlights, LED running lights and front foglamps), Climate Comfort package (heated front and rear seats, steering wheel and windshield), Convenience package (proximity key, power liftgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink universal remote), an upgraded stereo with 11 speakers, satellite and HD radio, navigation, an app suite for the infotainment system and WiFi pre-wiring. The Black Design package includes 18-inch wheels, exterior trim and a gloss black roof.
The midrange HSE trim includes everything on the SE with the Vision Assist and Convenience packages, plus different 18-inch wheels, upgraded trim, a panoramic glass roof, full leather upholstery and 10-way power front seats with memory functions. Along with the SE's Climate Comfort package and upgraded stereo, the HSE offers a Driver Plus package with autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning system, and navigation with traffic sign recognition. The Black Design package is also available with either 18- or 19-inch wheels. Stand-alone options include automatic high beams, adaptive xenon headlights, an app suite and WiFi pre-wiring.
The top-of-the-line model is the HSE Lux, which adds 19-inch wheels; unique exterior trim; upgraded leather upholstery, trim and carpeting; an 11-speaker stereo with satellite and HD radio; navigation; an app suite and configurable mood lighting. Options echo those of the HSE (except for those that come standard on the HSE Lux), and the Black Design package is available with 19- or 20-inch wheels.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport offers just one engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It's hooked to a nine-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels.
In Edmunds testing, the Discovery Sport went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. That's about a second slower than the average SUV in this class. Official EPA fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg in combined driving (20 city/26 highway), which is a few mpg less efficient than rivals. On the Edmunds evaluation route, it returned 25 mpg. Properly equipped, the Discovery Sport can tow up to 4,409 pounds.
The Discovery Sport's powertrain also includes Land Rover's driver-adjustable Terrain Response system. The technology has four settings (General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand) that adapt accelerator and steering response, gear selection, center differential engagement and braking/stability control systems to optimize performance in a variety of difficult driving scenarios. Unlike with other Land Rovers, there are no locking differentials, low-range gearing or adjustable suspension height.
The list of standard safety features on the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera and parking sensors are also standard, as are hill descent control and hill start assist.
Safety-related options include a blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert system, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and automatic braking for frontal crash mitigation.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Discovery Sport with 20-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet, which is better than average for the segment.
Like its close relative, the Range Rover Evoque, the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport feels supremely stable and well-coordinated on winding roads, with the accurate steering imparting solid feedback to the driver. We highly recommend you skip the optional 20-inch wheels, though, as they are at least partly responsible for a ride that tends toward jittery on imperfect surfaces. They generate a smattering of road noise, too. Smaller wheels would certainly improve things on both counts, but no Discovery Sport will deliver the sort of plush ride quality of its pricier air-suspended siblings.
It also can't match other Land Rovers off road, lacking their ground clearance, wheel articulation, locking differential and low-range gearing. In this department it also falls short of similarly sized or priced Jeeps (Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, respectively). Nevertheless, the Discovery Sport does possess more capabilities off the beaten path than its luxury compact luxury SUV competitors. It has short overhangs, a capable all-wheel-drive setup and (most importantly) the Terrain Response system that adjusts various vehicle parameters for optimum traction on different surfaces like sand, snow or mud.
Powering all these on- and off-pavement forays is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that offers sufficient punch for most buyers in most situations. Having said that, though, virtually every competitor not powered by diesel fuel or a hybrid powertrain delivers superior acceleration. The nine-speed automatic transmission can also be reluctant to downshift, which can be an annoyance when trying to merge into faster-moving traffic.
The 2016 Discovery Sport features a handsome interior fitted with high-quality materials. The design is stylish but conservative, which may leave some shoppers wishing for something with a little more charisma.
Gauges and controls are easy to see and intuitive in their operation. The 5-inch screen between the speedometer and tachometer can be configured to display a range of useful information. The large 8-inch touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash offers a much-improved interface that uses smartphone-like gestures to control climate, audio, phone and (optional) navigation functions, as well as to access available apps including iHeartRadio, Stitcher and more. It works well, but it can be too much of a reach at times, especially the accompanying physical buttons on its right side.
The second row offers decent legroom with the movable 60/40-split bench that both reclines (which is common) and slides fore and aft (which is rare). The seat is mounted 2 inches higher than the front seats to provide a better view for its occupants. The available third row is a tight fit for all but limber youngsters, leading us to suggest you look elsewhere if you plan on hauling seven passengers on a regular basis.
Speaking of hauling, fold down all the rear seats and you have a cargo hold with 60 cubic feet of space. Numerically, this is an average amount for a compact luxury crossover, but the Disco Sport's boxy shape makes the most of it. Although this SUV has "Sport" in its name, its utility is actually more appealing.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.