First seen at the New York International Auto Show in March 2002, the midsize sport utility vehicle from Land Rover has a new look for 2003, akin to the larger redesigned Range Rover. The interior has been refurbished, the V-8 engine gains power, and braking and suspension improvements have been made. Park Distance Control is a new option. Three versions of the new Discovery will be available: the base S, the midlevel SE and the top-of-the-line HSE. Land Rover claims that nearly 700 modifications have been made to the 2003 version, making it vastly different than the 2002 model, the Discovery Series II.
Owned by Ford, Land Rover is part of the new Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America organization. Land Rover has 142 dealerships in the United States, including 102 exclusive Land Rover Centers. As reported in Automotive News, a total of 20,104 Discovery models were sold in the United States during 2001. In addition to the posh Range Rover, Land Rover offers the smaller Freelander, which was introduced in late 2001 as a 2002 model.
Although the 2003 Discovery retains its iconic profile, the company says its new family face is inspired by the new Range Rover. Styling features include new, clear twin-pocket headlights, revised taillight clusters, and a new front bumper and grille with round fog lamps. Turn-signal indicators have moved to the upper vertical light cluster for improved visibility by traffic to the rear. In addition to appearance, the new front bumper improves the Discoverys cross-country ability over rocky ground by providing a better approach angle to obstacles. The Discovery has a separate body mounted to a ladder frame at 14 rubber-insulated points. The quarter panels, rear door and hood are made of aluminum alloy.
The four-wheel Electronic Traction Control and Hill Descent Control systems are standard. Options include an automatic-leveling air suspension and Land Rovers Active Cornering Enhancement system, which minimizes roll through bends. Rear fog lamps are installed on all models. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on the S model, and the SE and HSE ride on 18-inch tires. The Discovery rides a 100-inch wheelbase, measures 185.2 inches long overall and stands 76.4 inches tall.
Seating five occupants in standard form but up to seven as an option, the Discovery features power front seats and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Duragrain upholstery goes into the S model, while the SE and HSE get leather upholstery. Two new interior colors are available: Alpaca Beige and Land Rover Black. The drivers seat has an eight-way power adjustment, while the front passenger seat gets a six-way unit; the upscale HSE edition comes with an eight-way front-passenger unit.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, power windows, a rear-window wiper and washer, heated power mirrors, keyless entry with central locking, cruise control and an auto-dimming inside mirror. A HomeLink system can control garage-door opening, while a security system incorporates engine immobilization. The SE edition has burled wood interior trim, a premium 220-watt audio system with 12 speakers, a six-CD changer, dual tilting/sliding sunroofs and headlamp washers. The Park Distance Control reverse warning system, automatic leveling and a 320-watt Harman Kardon audio system with Becker GPS navigation capability go into the HSE model.
A rear-seat option package for all models consists of forward-facing third-row seats and a hydraulic rear step for easier access. Cargo space totals 63.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Under the Hood
The new 4.6-liter V-8 engine produces 217 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque, which reduces the 0-to-60-mph acceleration time to 9.5 seconds. Torque output has been increased by 20 percent, compared to the prior 4.0-liter engine. A four-speed-automatic transmission teams with permanently engaged four-wheel drive, which includes a two-speed transfer gearbox. Towing capacity reaches 7,700 pounds in Low range for a trailer with brakes. No-brake trailers are limited to 1,650 pounds.
LATCH child-safety seat tethers, electronic traction control and all-terrain antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) are standard. A collision-activated inertia switch unlocks the doors, turns off the fuel pump and activates the hazard lights. Side-impact airbags are not available.