1995 Land Rover Discovery

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1995 Land Rover Discovery
Available in 1 styles:  Discovery 4dr SUV shown
Asking Price Range
$2,884
Estimated MPG

12 city / 16 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2
1995 Land Rover Discovery 5.0 1
$ 2,884-2,884
June 10, 1994

Surprisingly agile. Approaching populist. Almost affordable.

Hardly the selling points one would ascribe to any vehicle built by the blokes at Land Rover. Even if they made a Turf Rover lawn mower.

This is the British company that kneads and sculpts two-ton lumps of aluminum, walnut and leather into stately Range Rover sport utilities. They are pricey, tougher than Tower Bridge, but no speedier than the processional pace of a clientele that includes Pope John-Paul II and Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Land Rover also builds the uncarpeted Defender 90, a recovering weapons carrier, all bare metal and naked bolts, that would look equally at home herding buffalo or squaring things in Bosnia.

But now, falling between Her Majesty and the Mercenary, comes Land Rover's Discovery--a thoroughly domesticated, all-family, compact 4 x 4 that is chummier than two weeks in Brighton.

It has front bucket seats and an optional sun roof for mum and dad, also a rear bench with a second sun roof for tanning grandma and gramps. There's ample cargo space for earthquake kits, mountain bikes and Boogie Boards; four cup holders for everyone's Snapple, and rear jump seats for Wally and Beaver.

Discovery costs $28,900, which includes two air bags, permanent four-wheel drive with a transmission whine to prove it, disc and anti-lock brakes, dual air conditioning, cruise control and an aluminum V-8--and so does the regal Range Rover County at almost twice the price.

There is more stowage space than most people have junk; wide slots above the visors, a cubbyhole between the seats, a glove box beneath the dashboard, pockets in the doors and rear ceiling nets. Rear doors have child safety locks to prevent junior leaving home at stoplights. This four-wheeled rumpus room is rigged with a Class III hitch that can tow a 28-foot sailboat, horse trailer with horses, a hot-air balloon or six dirt bikes on a flatbed. Even--with a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds--another Land Rover.

In terms of family transportation, Discovery is no contender for Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year, but a shoo-in for a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Not that this two-family, seven-seat bus--despite color schemes keyed to the Ardennes, Coniston, Portofino and other European vacation spots--could be accused of suburban softness.

Its V-8 is 3.9 liters producing 182 horsepower and is the same engine found in the aforementioned, militant Defender 90. Unfortunately, the thirst for gasoline is also the same--13 m.p.g. across town, 16 m.p.g. across interstates--and that's pretty close to worst in class.

*

On-road, it will run from rest to 60 m.p.h. in 10.5 seconds and is a quick match for the Ford Explorer, Isuzu Rodeo and Trooper, Toyota Land Cruiser and most other sport utilities. Except the hard-shoving Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Off-road, its 231-pound-feet of torque easily takes the competition. Except, again, Jeep's V-8 Grand Cherokee. Discovery's off-road athleticism, however, follows the Range Rover legend with an approach angle of 38 degrees and webbed feet to ford streams 20 inches deep. And that translates to water over the door sills.

And a suspension allowing generous wheel travel brings new comforts and absolute control when terrain turns to boulders and ooze.

In this elephantine mode--indeed, in places where the pachyderm roams--factory modified versions have climbed and crushed the world's worst terrains in Camel Trophy expeditions from Siberia to Borneo.

Stylistically, the aluminum-paneled, steel-roofed and framed Discovery takes cues from your average gun emplacement. Flat, thick, vertical, slab-sided. Or is this the crate it came in?

The insides are no more streamlined. It is so tall that the glutes of front seat occupants are about 40 inches above the road surface. Rear passengers sit even higher--whi h is the Club Level at Dodger Stadium. For room and airiness--aided by rectangular Alpine skylights in the edges of the back cabin--think Chez Flintstone in mid-town Bedrock.

Land Rover has done well with a popular concept.

*

What it has not done is pay infinite attention to the tiny details that often are deal-breakers in the frantic, glutted, cutthroat sport-utility market.

Discovery's price may be well below the psychological ceiling of $30,000. Its also an amazing ticket for anything so civilized that bears the heritage and undeniable snob appeal of Land Rover.

But a nicely loaded Isuzu Trooper, Rodeo, Grand Cherokee, Mitsubishi Montero, Chevy Blazer and others sell for much less. Discovery, in fact, is priced close to the high-ticket Explorer Limited, Grand Cherokee Limited and Isuzu Trooper LS, all offering considerable luxuries--even, say, those of a Range Rover.

On the other hand, Explorer doesn't come with a V-8, permanent 4WD or air bags. Grand Cherokee offers a V-8, higher horsepower and permanent 4WD, but only one bag. Trooper has a V-6, higher horsepower, but no bags. Only Discovery seats seven. So you weigh family preferences, roll the dice, take your chances.

In an apparent effort to appear contemporary and cute, Land Rover has equipped Discovery with remote radio controls--volume and station change for radio and CD--set around the instrument binnacle.

Detroit fumbled with a similar system years ago. It didn't take. Nor will Land Rover's, and for the simple reason that the remote buttons are hidden behind the rim of the steering wheel. Operation, therefore, requires removing vision and attention from the road, the very distraction the system is designed to prevent.

In truth, reaching controls on the dash-mounted sound system is much more convenient than squinting and groping for the remotes.

*

Ergonomically, Discovery remains surprisingly rough around the edges. The front bucket seats are a little tight across the shoulders. The ignition switch is low on the steering column, jammed too close to the dash and leaves scant room for a big key being inserted and turned by three fat fingers.

Shifting the automatic transmission, or switching the center differential from high to low 4WD, is a tougher wrestle than Hulk Hogan. Brakes on the 5,000-mile test vehicle required stomping before the pads awoke and decided to bite their rotors. The steering waffled left and right, responding more to whatever ruts and lumps the 16-inch wheels encountered rather than a driver's manual demands.

Some may consider such faults minor, even an acceptable compromise for the prestige of clobbering the Joneses by owning a genuine Land Rover and the royal baggage it implies.

It is taller, more spacious and has more personality than the opposition. There is no arguing Discovery's perfect middle ground between the harsh, truck-handli ng bias of some souvies, and the rolling, station-wagon bulkiness of others.

Still, its handling and ergonomic miscues were minimized, even resolved years ago by the Jeeps and Isuzus of this world.

We can only presume that Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Queen Mum have noticed them but were much too polite to complain.

1995 Land Rover Discovery

Price: $28,900

The Good: Land Rover heritage finally affordable. Ideal family, recreational transportation. On-road performance on par with competition. Off-road performance of mountain-climbing lumberjack.

The Bad: Ergonomics need TLC. Vague steering.

The Ugly: The gas bills.

Cost As tested, $34,400 (includes automatic transmission, two air bags, permanent four-wheel-drive, cruise control, dual automatic air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, dual power sun roofs, Connolly leather seats, rear jumpseats, keyless entry and alarm system.)

Engine 3.7-liter, aluminum V-8 developing 182 horsepower.

Type Front-engine, five-door, four-wheel-drive sport utility.

Performance 0-60 m.p.h., as tested, 10.5 seconds. Top speed, estimated, 104 m.p.h. Fuel consumption, EPA city and highway, 13 and 16 m.p.g.

Curb Weight 4,379 pounds.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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