Land Rover Discovery HSE: over ground, uneven ground, Rovering free

What do the school run, a bumpy field and long distance driving all have in common? They're all easily handled by the Land Rover Discovery. 

This is a do-it-all 4x4 that feels just as home on the road as it does bouncing across rural fields. The Discovery puts practicality first, and while that means it's not quite as visually alluring as the Range Rover fleet, the lower price tag makes it a little more accessible. 

We drove the Discovery HSE trim, which is towards the top end of the spec level and the on the road price, with a few optional extras, totaled over £60,000 ($70,000). 

However, the Discovery starts at £47,405, $52,090 (and the Sport model at £30,145, $37,795) if you can make do without a few of the toys and more premium styling points. 

What you looking at?

We drove

Land Rover Discovery Td6 HSE
Engine: 3.0 liter turbocharged diesel
Power: 258bhp
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Fuel efficiency: 39.2mpg
Price: £60,895

We'll get this out of the way early, and we're certainly not the first to comment on the somewhat questionable rear styling of the current Land Rover Discovery. 

Symmetry continues to be left by the wayside in the Discovery design studio and this generation of the car does look rather lopsided. 

From the front and sides it looks far more accomplished, almost encroaching on the Range Rover styling, which helps soften the blow of the rear. 

With two additional seats hidden in the floor of the trunk the Discovery is not only tall, it's also long. It makes for a commanding presence on the road, but in cities things can be a little tighter. 

Thankfully there's a reversing camera and parking sensors to help guide you into tight spots. 

Another nice feature when you switch the automatic transmission into reverse is the dipping of the wing mirrors, giving you a better view of kerbs, bay line or any hazard that may not be visible from the windows or rear camera. 

Land Rover Discovery HSE exterior gallery

Climb up, into the driving seat and you're treated to a spacious cabin not only in the front, but also in the row behind, with plenty of legroom for five adults. 

While legroom for five passengers is great, the middle seat in second row isn't overly comfortable for long journeys. 

Our middle seat passenger said that after about an hour it's not a great place to be, but for short stints it's useful and children are less likely to find fault with it. 

Open up the tailgate and you're greeted with a huge space for all your luggage, golf clubs and even the family dog - plus there's an array of buttons to the left. 

These can be used to deploy the two seats that fold into the floor, upping seating capacity of the Discovery to seven. 

The electronic controls make these seats much more user friendly than traditional manual offerings, as you don't need to crawl into the car to get them into position. 

The middle row of seats can slide forwards to provide more legroom for the third row, but even when forward these additional chairs are best suited to children as it's not as spacious.

Effortless drive-ability

The Land Rover Discovery dwarfs most cars on the road, but from the driving seat you wouldn't necessarily know it. 

Sure, if you look out of the side window at the cars beside you, you'll notice that 99% of the time you're looking down on your fellow motorists, but eyes forward and foot pressed firmly on the gas the Discovery is effortless. 

The four wheel drive, eight speed automatic transmission and a hulking 3.0 liter Td6 turbocharged engine provides an impressive amount of propulsion, taking you from 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds and topping out at 130mph.

It can feel a little heavy in the corners, which is hardly surprising considering its size, but overall the Discovery is very driveable.

Back inside the cabin and there are a couple of handy slots above the cup holders to slide in your smartphone, ensuring it doesn’t going flying around the cabin.

There isn’t any Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration here, with Land Rover using its own Touch Pro interface, and it’s very, very good.

Land Rover Discovery HSE interior gallery

The 10-inch touchscreen is responsive and intuitive. It doesn’t take a Computer Science graduate to work out what’s going on here, and pairing your phone via Bluetooth is equally as simple.

Once paired you can opt to stream music from your smartphone to the Discovery’s audio system, and you can control playback and volume using the on-wheel buttons. Our Discovery HSE came with a 380W Meridian system with 10 speakers, plus a dual channel subwoofer, which kicks out excellent quality audio.

The Discovery is also compatible with Land Rover’s InControl app, which allows you to access various vital statistics about your vehicle when you’re away from it.

Handy data such as the mileage and fuel level let you know if you need to leave a little earlier so you can fuel up ahead of a journey, while the ability to make sure all the windows are closed and the doors are locked is perfect for the security conscious.

Something else we found useful was the vehicle location map, meaning we could always find our way back to the car - and you can even flash the lights and sound the horn, all from your smartphone, if you’re really struggling to locate it.

There are more affordable SUVs, but the Land Rover Discovery offers a premium many rivals cannot match, along with an excellent ride and the ability to take on pretty much any terrain.

Then there’s Land Rover’s top-notch tech offering, from intuitive infotainment to a whole host of sensors, cameras and other driving aids that makes driving less taxing and more enjoyable.

If your budget stretches, and you're after a little more practicality than a Range Rover, the Discovery is very well equipped.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.