If a Jeep is too conventional—or plain—for your outdoorsy family, consider the 2021 Land Rover Discovery: it provides a much more upscale vibe to accompany its impressive off-road capability. With room for up to seven people inside its posh, three-row cabin, the Discovery adds an extra layer of practicality over the two-row Grand Cherokee. A pair of turbocharged gasoline-powered engines are offered—a four-cylinder and a six-cylinder, both turbocharged—and all Discovery models come with an adjustable air suspension and standard all-wheel drive. The Discovery leverages Land Rover’s legendary go-anywhere reputation and backs it up by offering an optional two-speed transfer case and a locking rear differential for maximum overlanding freedom. There’s even a Wade mode that’s set up to improve the Discovery’s water-fording capability. Try that in your Porsche Cayenne or Volvo XC90.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All Discovery models come with full-time all-wheel drive as standard, but buyers can choose between a 296-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 355-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, the latter of which employs a 48-volt hybrid system. We haven’t had a chance to test drive the Disco with the base turbo four, but with the inline-six, the big Land Rover feels sprightly around town and delivers adequate power for highway merging and passing. The Land Rover’s adventure-ready mission caters to those seeking an SUV for much more than just trolling the parking lot at the mall, but it comes at the expense of on-road dexterity. The Discovery’s handling isn’t as ponderous as one might expect, but it still feels clumsy and top-heavy when changing direction. The Disco never lets you forget that you’re piloting a large SUV. Overall ride quality is quite good and even harsh bumps are dealt with easily. Steering feel, however, is nonexistent, especially on-center, where a large dead spot creates a need for frequent steering corrections when cruising on the highway. If towing a heavy load is on the docket, the Disco is rated to tow up to 8200 pounds.