As you sort through the facts and figures for a compact luxury SUV, you probably won't find many differences among them. Most are about the same size, have the same sort of engine and offer the same sort of leaning-toward-sporty-driving experience. Which one ends up in your driveway is often a matter of which looks best, which brand you find the most impressive or which has the best lease deal. And that's why we like the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport: In a class of vehicles very much alike, it is a true individual.
Land Rover is known for making SUVs that can traverse the most brutal terrain while their cabins maintain the serenity of an English tea house. By Land Rover standards, the Discovery Sport falls a little short: It has less ground clearance and less capable mechanical bits than its bigger siblings, and yet it will still crawl its way over off-road obstacles that would literally eviscerate its rivals. Why does that matter, assuming your commute doesn't require crossing the Amazon? If you have to deal with deep snow or a muddy, deeply rutted path to a lakeside cabin, the Discovery Sport's above-and-beyond capabilities may well come in handy.
However, its charms go beyond its jungle-bashing abilities. Its cargo bay is one of the most spacious in the segment, and the rear seat slides fore and aft to maximize legroom or squeeze in a bit more luggage. It also offers an optional third-row seat, so it can serve as a seven-seater in a pinch (provided those extra two passengers are kid-size). And that, to us, makes this Land Rover one of the most practical SUVs in its segment, and a must-drive for shoppers in this category.
One way the Discovery Sport breaks the mold is by offering a single engine: A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder developing 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. This being a Land Rover, all-wheel drive is standard, as is a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates the little Land Rover's fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (20 city/25 highway). The standard All-Terrain Progress Control system is like off-road cruise control. Turn it on, and the Land Rover will automatically apply power and brakes to climb the most treacherous terrain. All the driver does is steer. It's a good safety feature, allowing drivers without off-road experience to safely cross treacherous terrain.
The Discovery Sport is available in SE, HSE and HSE Lux models. The SE comes with most of the amenities you'd expect in a luxury-branded vehicle, while the HSE adds the rest and the HSE Lux offers the very best in British opulence. Like what you're reading about Land Rover's pug-like SUV? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.