Used 1997 Land Rover Discovery

1997 Land Rover Discovery
List price range

Pros

  • Outstanding off-road prowess, available 7-passenger capacity

Cons

  • Overpriced, underpowered, unreliable, and too thirsty

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Introduced in April 1994, this compact 4X4 builds on a couple of Land Rover legends. Designed for go-anywhere capability, the Discovery exhibits excellent off-road ability. Built in England, the Discovery also exhibits a distressing tendency toward reliability problems. We receive lots of horror stories regarding Discovery reliability via email, and Automobile magazine wrapped up a long-term test with a very troublesome 1995 model recently. Just one body style is available: a five-door wagon with permanent four-wheel-drive. An automatic transmission is optional. This year, three trim levels are available; the SD, SE and SE7.

Beneath the hood of all models sits an aluminum 4.0-liter, 182-horsepower V8 engine. Acceleration isn't bad, but is accompanied by gear noise and other aural annoyances. Worse, this powerplant is rated for 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway, and that's with a light foot. Sizable ground clearance (8.1 inches) is a bonus while off-roading, but contributes to the Discovery's tendency to lean through curves and corners, and also makes it harder to climb inside. Though firm, the sport-utility's suspension delivers a suitable ride, via 16-inch Michelin or Goodyear tires. New exterior colors help differentiate the 1997 Discovery from those that preceded it.

The driver sits high -- three feet above the road surface. Rear passengers sit higher still, for a superior view. Seating is available for seven, in the form of center-facing, stowable rear seats that come standard on the SE7, but this is a five-passenger vehicle in SD and SE trim. Though roomy enough, the Discovery holds fewer luxury fittings than might be expected in this price league. Only a handful of options are available, including leather upholstery. The spare tire resides outside. The driver and front passenger have adjustable lumbar supports, and enjoy the benefits of dual-temperature control air conditioning. A full-size glovebox and four cupholders are included.

Changes for 1997 are minimal. A diversity antenna is added, and all interiors are trimmed with polished burled walnut. The sunroof has darker tinting, the airbag system benefits from simplified operation, and engine management is improved.

Legendary off-road capabilities help make the aluminum-bodied Discovery an attractive choice, augmented by safety equipment. If you expect to drive mainly around the suburbs rather than through the woods, the Discovery's high center of gravity and short wheelbase could be a drawback. The fact that a Discovery can ford a stream up to 19.7 inches deep isn't exactly a benefit when its primary duties involve driving to the office or the mall. In urban America, the Discovery is all about prestige, and it doesn't come cheaply or conveniently. We recommend the Discovery for off-road use, but most consumers will want a different truck to haul the Little Leaguers in.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Land Rover Discovery.

Hard to stop a Disco
Plova, 3/8/2013
I have three Discos, one in the US and a 95 Tdi & 2002 TD5 in Europe. The 97 V8 just keeps going. Bought this one with 60K and now have 165k on it. Only repairs that have been needed are the gear shift switch (under brake - $25), starter ($180) and the large ball joint behind the hub ($600). Vehicle has been maintained but not babied. This is a real 4 x 4 and will go almost anywhere. Towing is no problem. The 4.0 litre engine is a bit underpowered in these years but it is a heavy vehicle and not a sports car. Ride is more like a truck but has a very solid feeling. Now that the 97's are getting on in years you can find some that are fairly inexpensive.
Fantastic all round vehicle
Macca, 5/3/2009
I bought mine with 100,000 kilometers on it and intended to use it as a tow vehicle for my Caravan. After the first trip, I was disappointed with the lack of power from the 3.9 V8. I took the vehicle to a performance workshop and had a "Unichip" fitted. The transformation was amazing. This Disco now flys and returns a very respectable fuel mileage.
One Amazing Tank
Micheal Smith, 9/16/2008
I am the happy second owner of a '97 Disco. All I can say about this vehicle is that it is a tank. Goes where you point it without complaint. It chews up trails, scales steep hillsides/mountainsides with ease, and carves a path in deep snow. Gas mileage is average for an SUV of this size, so if gas is a concern,look elsewhere. And on-road manners are something to be desired. In addition this is the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. Got it with 75K and it now has over 240K on it and it's still chugging along. Granted there were repairs now and again, but in true Rover style, whatever broke or failed this truck always got me to my destination.
a real 4x4 not a SUV
It's a real 4x4, 9/13/2009
I have a 1997 land rover Discovery SD the entry level model. It doesn't have a sunroof which is okay with me. The truck has a rugged frame and strong body. The discovery is built to withstand alot of abuse despite it's shiny exterior. The truck has been reliable what many fail to understand is that the truck is a rugged piece of machinery that require maintenance. but unlike many other vehicles the Discovery is a straightforward truck to own with a few tool set and time. I have a five inch lift with 34" tires on mines and it puts hummers and jeeps to shame.
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Features & Specs

MPG
12 city / 16 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
182 hp @ 4750 rpm
MPG
12 city / 16 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
182 hp @ 4750 rpm
MPG
11 city / 16 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
182 hp @ 4750 rpm
MPG
12 city / 16 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
182 hp @ 4750 rpm
See all Used 1997 Land Rover Discovery features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 1997 Land Rover Discovery
Used 1997 Land Rover Discovery Overview

The Used 1997 Land Rover Discovery is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include SD 4dr SUV AWD, XD 4dr SUV AWD, LSE 4dr SUV AWD, SE 4dr SUV AWD, and SE7 4dr SUV AWD.

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