2021 Land Rover Discovery
- February-March 2021
What to expect
- A slight styling refresh on the outside
- New infotainment system promises quicker responses and a less frustrating interface
- New sport-themed R-Dynamic model
- New four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines; the diesel is discontinued
- Part of the fifth Discovery generation introduced for 2017
What is the Discovery?
The 2021 Land Rover Discovery is a three-row midsize luxury SUV that distinguishes itself from the rest with its superior off-road capabilities. It represents the family-friendly choice in the Land Rover lineup, with the premium luxury Range Rover above it and the rugged Defender supporting it.
This year brings a handful of small changes, adding up to the most significant update for the Discovery since it was redesigned in 2017. New LED headlights and bumpers freshen up the exterior look, while on the inside, a new infotainment system debuts with a larger touchscreen and redesigned second-row seats promise greater comfort. There's also a new R-Dynamic model that adds some sporty visual touches, such as gloss black exterior trim and two-tone leather in the cabin. The biggest changes occur under the hood, with a new entry-level four-cylinder and a turbocharged six-cylinder with mild hybrid technology. Unfortunately, the diesel motor has been discontinued.
What's under the Discovery's hood?
A new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine becomes the base engine for the refreshed Discovery. It produces 296 horsepower, and, if it's the same one as in the Land Rover Defender (as we believe), it has 295 lb-ft of torque and drives the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Last year's 340-hp supercharged V6 engine has been replaced by a new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. We don't have full details yet, but we do know that it features mild hybrid technology and makes 355 horsepower. It's likely the same powertrain as the one in the latest Range Rover, which is also mated to an eight-speed auto and produces 365 lb-ft.
How comfortable is the Discovery?
We give the current Discovery high scores for overall comfort and expect the refreshed 2021 model to improve upon that. The second-row seats have been redesigned with more padding, improved lateral support and longer seat cushions. These improvements should make long road trips feel shorter for those middle-row passengers.
How's the Discovery's interior?
The Discovery has a good blend of industrial heft and luxurious refinement. The nicest materials are presented above the waistline, while more durable surfaces cover surfaces below. The first and second rows of seats are spacious enough for larger passengers, while the third row is best reserved for smaller occupants. Some controls are oddly placed when compared to the layout in more traditional SUVs (most notably the window switches are at the top of the door panel), but after a short time they become second nature.
How's the Discovery's tech?
Technology has historically been disappointing with the Discovery, and Land Rover as a whole. Our previous complaints about the Discovery's infotainment system included consistently slow responses, mixed with occasional glitches that were sources of real frustration. The 2021 Discovery gets the new Pivi Pro infotainment system that promises quick reactions and fewer headaches. It is incorporated within a new 11.4-inch touchscreen and features over-the-air updates.
Other enhancements include a redesigned Activity Key (a waterproof bracelet that substitutes for the usual key fob) that now features a digital readout and remote start. The ClearSight Ground View system helps drivers navigate treacherous terrain by showing the path directly in front of the vehicle, and it's a welcome addition to the Discovery's already impressive off-road capabilities. The typical cadre of advanced safety features — including blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control — are here, though they generally reside on the options list.
How's the Discovery's storage?
Points are awarded for the Discovery's large cargo area that is versatile and easily configured. As was the case with the previous year, owners have the ability to fold the second- and third-row seats via switches in the cargo space or through the infotainment screen or a smartphone app. We also like the abundance of storage bins and pockets for passengers, as well as the Discovery's ability to tow up to 8,200 pounds when properly equipped.
The Land Rover Discovery is one of the few vehicles in its class with real off-road capabilities, but they don't come at the expense of comfort or refinement. The Discovery is not only worth considering if you're the outdoorsy type — it's a solid three-row luxury SUV, too. The enhancements for 2021 only make it more compelling.