Most compact luxury SUVs go by the same playbook. They're roughly the same size, have roughly the same sort of engine and provide a driving experience that can roughly be described as sporty. Which one you choose can often come down to styling choice, brand preference or maybe which one has the best lease deal. Yet the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport plays by a different playbook, or at least one with a few extra chapters.
Land Rover has built its reputation on SUVs that combine jungle-bashing capabilities with English sophistication. Although the Discovery Sport lacks the hard-core mechanicals and superior ground clearance of its pricier siblings, it nevertheless can venture places its strictly road-going rivals from beyond the United Kingdom can't manage. For those who deal with abundant snow or need to venture down a mucky and/or rutted road to a cabin or lakeside, the Discovery Sport's extra capabilities could make a big difference.
It's also more family-friendly, with a spacious second-row seat that not only reclines but also slides to increase legroom, bring kids a little closer to Mom and Dad, or free up cargo space. The latter is a nice extra, but the cargo area is actually one of the most generous in the segment as well. The Discovery Sport also stands out from its rivals with a third-row seat for those times when you have a couple extra kids to cart around.
In other words, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport is one of the most practical SUVs in the segment. If that's important to you, it's absolutely a must-drive. However, there are definitely reasons to think twice. Its only available engine yields relatively slow acceleration and so-so fuel economy, and it's paired to a transmission that is slow to respond. And though the cabin is suitably well made for its price point, it lacks the luxurious look and ambience of its top rivals: the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Volvo XC60 and even its less practical but higher-style Range Rover Evoque brand mate.
The list of standard safety features on the 2017 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 blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning and automatic braking for front-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.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a compact luxury SUV that comes standard with five seats, though an optional two-person third row increases capacity to seven. There are three trim levels: SE, HSE and HSE Lux.
Standard equipment on the SE includes 18-inch wheels, the Land Rover Terrain Response system (changes various vehicle settings to match various surfaces), rear privacy glass, automatic headlamps and wipers, power-folding heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, partial leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split rear seat (folding, reclining, sliding), an 8-inch touchscreen interface, four USB charging ports (two front, two rear), Bluetooth phone and audio, and a 10-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and a USB media player interface. The Convenience package adds keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free power liftgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SE Vision Assist package adds xenon headlamps, LED running lights and front foglamps. Navigation functionality can be added to the standard touchscreen separately.
The HSE includes the Convenience and SE Vision Assist package and adds a fixed panoramic roof, front parking sensors, full leather upholstery, and 10-way power front seats with memory functions. It is also eligible for additional options.
The HSE Lux adds 19-inch wheels, fancier exterior trim, multicolor interior ambient lighting, upgraded leather upholstery, smartphone-connection apps, navigation functionality, and an 11-speaker Meridian sound system with satellite radio (optional on other trims).
The HSE trims are available with a number of different option packages. The Vision Assist package includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive headlamps, automatic high beams and a surround-view parking system. The Driver Assist Plus package adds the navigation functionality, lane departure warning and emergency auto braking. The HUD & Park Assist package adds a head-up display and an automatic parking system that can handle perpendicular and parallel parking duties. The Intelligent Dynamics Pack adds an active all-wheel-drive system (switches between front- and all-wheel drive based on conditions) and an adaptive magnetic suspension. The Entertainment Pack adds a 17-speaker Meridian sound system and the upgraded 10-inch InControl Touch Pro touchscreen interface that includes onboard Wi-Fi and its own upgraded navigation system. Finally, the Dynamic Design package adds a variety of special exterior and trim pieces, including gloss black 20-inch wheels.
All trims can be equipped with the Climate Comfort package, which includes a variety of heated items: windshield, steering wheel, and front and rear seats. Also available as stand-alone options are different wheels (19- or 20-inch), contrasting roof color choices, the head-up display, automatic high beams, a cargo cover and onboard Wi-Fi.
Unlike most rivals, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport offers only one engine choice. It's a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic transmission and an automatic engine stop-start system are standard. The optional Active Driveline allows for the all-wheel-drive system to switch between front- and all-wheel drive to maximize fuel economy and all-surface traction.
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.
EPA fuel estimates for 2017 were not announced at the time of this writing, but we doubt the standard numbers will change much (if at all) from the 2016 estimates of 22 mpg combined (20 city/26 highway). Properly equipped, the Discovery Sport can tow up to 4,409 pounds.
The Discovery Sport's powertrain also includes Land Rover's All Terrain Progress Control (a low-speed, off-road cruise control), hill descent control and the driver-adjustable Terrain Response system. The latter 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.
Like its close relative, the Range Rover Evoque, the 2017 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, because 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. (We have yet to test the new-for-2017 adaptive suspension.)
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 compact luxury SUV competitors. It has short overhangs, a capable all-wheel-drive setup and (most important) the Terrain Response system that adjusts various vehicle parameters for optimum traction on different surfaces such as 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 2017 Discovery Sport features a handsome interior fitted with high-quality materials. The design is stylish but conservative, which might leave some shoppers wishing for something with a little more charisma.
The gauges and controls are easy to see and intuitive in their operation. The standard 8-inch touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash allows for smartphone-like gestures to control climate, audio, phone and (optional) navigation functions. It works well, but it can be too much of a reach at times, especially the accompanying physical buttons on its right side. The new-for-2017 InControl Touch Pro optional infotainment system is much more than just a larger, 10-inch screen. It's a substantially faster system with higher-grade graphics, customizable home screens and handy menu buttons always placed along the bottom. We haven't had much experience with it, but it seems promising and we recommend you try out Discovery Sports with both systems.
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.