With a complement of desirable features, standard all-wheel drive, and an upscale-but-rugged appearance, the 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a distillation of the brand’s go-anywhere-in-comfort ethos. The Discovery Sport’s off-road driving modes, hill-descent control, and wading sensor system provide more off-road capability than you’ll find in an Audi Q5 or a Porsche Macan. The trade-off is that the Discovery Sport’s on-road driving experience isn’t as engaging as rival SUVs’. Its cabin is spacious and offers an optional third row of seats, but its environs aren’t as refined as what you’ll find in the BMW X3 or the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class. Still, for buyers who want considerable off-road capability wrapped in a stylish package, the Discovery Sport is one of the few choices in this mostly on-road-focused segment.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every Discovery Sport has a turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain that makes 246 horsepower. Of course, standard all-wheel drive—along with a host of optional trail-rated equipment—helps the Sport glide over bumpy terrain and weather any storm. The Disco Sport can even wade into as much as 23.6 inches of water (for those who dare) and tow up to 4409 pounds. We tested a 2020 model with the 246-hp engine and found it to be rather sluggish; throttle response is lazy and the Disco Sport requires 7.5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Handling isn’t particularly crisp, so don’t expect to wring thrills from curvy back roads. On the plus side, the Discovery Sport delivers a comfortable ride for cruising.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Discovery Sport’s EPA fuel-economy estimates are 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Compared with other luxury compact SUVs, the Land Rover is thirsty. It was particularly greedy for fuel during our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, where it delivered a lackluster 21 mpg. Even the six-cylinder BMW X3 M40i managed 29 mpg in our testing, and other all-wheel-drive rivals such as the Acura RDX and Mercedes-Benz GLC300 managed 25 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
With a dashboard design that mimics what’s in flashier and pricier Land Rovers, the Discovery Sport maintains the brand’s upscale image. The cabin now offers sustainable materials and more seat configurations for better versatility. The seats in our test vehicle were comfortable enough for several long-haul trips lasting four hours or so. Base models come fairly well-equipped with such luxuries as ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, and push-button start. Leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heat, a pair of third-row jump seats, and a powered liftgate are all optional. The Discovery Sport holds 28 cubic-feet of cargo behind its second row. That’s three cubes better than what the Audi Q5 can boast but falls short of the 30-cubic-foot space in the tail of the Cadillac XT5.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Discovery Sport models come with a 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, and other infotainment features such as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, a head-up display, in-dash navigation, and a wireless smartphone charging pad are optional. The standard sound system is a 180-watt six-speaker setup, but Land Rover offers two different Meridian stereos as options; the first is a 380-watt 10-speaker arrangement and the second has 14 speakers and 825 watts of power.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have released crash-test results for the 2021 Discovery Sport. Land Rover does offer plenty of safety features, though, including everything from advanced camera systems to the usual array of contemporary driver and safety assists. The latter includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking with forward-collision detection, lane-keeping assist, and more. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control