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Expert Reviews 3 of 3
By Anita And Paul Lienert
The Detroit News
November 15, 2000
Britain's Land Rover has been building premium sport-utility vehicles longer than Queen Elizabeth II has ruled England. The SUV specialist, now owned by Ford, uses buzz words like "heritage" and "authenticity" when describing its products. And it
notes that other SUVs are traversing difficult roads first surveyed by - you guessed it - Land Rovers. But that makes us wonder: how do they hold up in the grocery-store parking lot? That's another story. We tested a 2001 Land Rover Discovery II
SE that cost $40,395. It came with extras like a $500 cold-weather package with a heated windshield and front seats and a $2,900 performance package that included active cornering enhancement (ACE), which helps keep the tall vehicle from leaning in
turns. She: Just looking at the Discovery in your driveway will make you feel filthy rich and adventurous. It's big, boxy and looks like it's ready for a safari, especially with those Alpine windows cut just below the roofline and two sunroofs.
It made me feel like the Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet. In fact, I wish I had been wearing his uniform of khaki shorts and a shirt when I got in the darn thing. I'm talking wet bottom and dirty cuffs. He: I had the same experience. Good
thing we had the chance to test the Discovery in the rain. Hop in during a shower and the front seat puddles with water the minute you open the door. Bad design. And the running boards just collect mud and dirt. Sometimes, you can't come out of the
Discovery without looking like you've been in the rain forest. The Discovery is perfect for the north woods or the wilderness with its permanent four-wheel-drive and features like hill descent control. But we both gave it low marks for livability,
especially in city and suburban driving. She: There may be too many compromises to justify the $40,000 price tag for women who are just worried about getting the girls to Brownies and grabbing dinner. The visibility is poor due to the rear
center headrest and trunk-mounted spare tire. However, that headrest lowers when you flip down the rear center armrest. But that can be a pain. The steering wheel is too massive and obscures the gauges on the instrument panel. There should be handles to
grip on the A-pillars as you get into the front seats, especially for shorter people. He I was shocked at the cheap screens for the two sunroofs in the Discovery. Surely, they could have made a regular shade that wouldn't have been too
expensive. Overall, this is an SUV that falls short. It has lots of luxury equipment, like standard leather seats and wood trim on the SE model, yet it feels antiquated and lumbering next to new entries like the Acura MDX. And while you liked the command
seating that puts you high up over the road, I thought the combination of the steering wheel, seat position and vehicle weight - more than two tons - made me feel like I was driving a school bus. She: You really have to adjust
to how long it takes to stop such a massive vehicle. And the brakes didn't inspire confidence. It also seemed like the 4.0-liter V-8 engine didn't quite have enough get-up-and-go at 188 horsepower. But I did appreciate the optional active cornering
enhancement. I was worried that the Discovery would feel tippy going around a curving ramp on the expressway, but it didn't. He: A plus on the Discovery is all of the neat ways to store gear. I liked the little cubbyholes above the visors and
the rear cargo nets built into the ceiling. She: As somebody who lives for the new Tupperware catalogue, those were some of my favorite things about the Discovery. He: When you think of the Discovery's competition - everything from
the Mitsubishi Montero to the Cadillac Escalade and the BMW X5, it's a tough choice. For many SUV owners who never go off-road, a smarter pick may be something like the MDX, which is more genteel and easier to live in, not to mention gets consi
rably better gas mileage. Anita's rating: Acceptable Paul's rating: Acceptable Likes: Tough, rugged, invincible feel (Paul). Made to conquer the wilderness (Paul). Extremely high seating position (Anita). Clever cubicles
throughout cabin. Optional Active Cornering Enhancement a plus. Dislikes: Low marks on livability. Terrible gas mileage. Hate the brakes and how long it takes to stop. Lousy visibility. Steering wheel too massive, hides too-small gauges. Seats get
wet when it rains. Could use more than 188 horsepower. Expensive and not the best value. Couldn't easily find controls, like cruise control. Type: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, five-passenger sport-utility vehicle. Price: Base,
$36,350; as tested; $40,395 (includes $500 destination charge). Engine: 4.0-liter V-8; 188 hp; 250 lb-ft tor. Fuel economy: 13 city/17 highway. 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan (*Estimate. Rates may be higher
or lower depending on coverage and driving record.): $1,403. Where built: England.