2000 Land Rover Discovery
2000 Land Rover Discovery Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
High style and the ultimate in off-road capability.
The Land Rover Discovery is the Swiss Army knife of sport-utility vehicles. While a lot of people buy Land Rovers for their panache, few vehicles can match their off-road capability.
Land Rover redesigned and re-engineered its Discovery for 1999 and dubbed it the Discovery Series II to indicate that it is the second-generation version. Discovery Series II has boosted Land Rover sales 30 percent. The re-engineered chassis and suspension made it easier to drive on the highway without sacrificing its legendary off-road capability. Refinements to the interior have reduced some of the quirkiness without losing that Land Rover charm. Redesigned styling makes it look more confident without losing its distinctive appearance. Land Rovers offer distinction, yet the price of a Discovery is lower than most people realize.
Land Rover's Discovery Series II remains the ultimate off-road utility vehicle.
One model is available. (All Discoverys are Series IIs.) Base price with cloth interior is $34,150.
Standard features include Rover's 4-liter V8, a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, Land Rover's permanent four-wheel drive, a sophisticated four-wheel electronic traction control system, Hill Descent Control, and a four-channel all-terrain anti-lock braking system. Also standard are a six-speaker 100-watt audio system with weather band, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, heated power mirrors, power windows and door locks, child safety locks, cruise control, rear window washer and wiper, halogen headlamps with washers, HomeLink, and a body-integrated Class III tow hitch receiver.
Many buyers opt for the handsome Leather Appearance Package ($1,950). A Cold Climate Package ($500) adds seat heaters and a heated windshield.
Besides leather, the biggest choice to make is whether to spring for the Performance Package ($2,900), which includes Active Cornering Enhancement and 18-inch wheels and tires.
The other primary options are: rear air conditioning ($750); Self-Leveling Suspension ($750); and the Rear Seat Package ($1,750), which includes the self-leveling suspension.
With its trademark alpine windows and utilitarian styling, there's no mistaking the Land Rover Discovery for something else. Though completely redesigned last year (85 percent of its parts were new), the overall look is similar to the previous model. Fresh styling and a wider stance give the Series II a more confident look. The interior was redesigned for improved outward visibility, increased roominess and easier operation.
The Series II is 4 inches wider, 6 inches longer in length and 1 inch shorter in height than the previous Discovery (though it maintains its ground clearance). Cargo capacity is greater than before. Range Rover-style door handles are easy to open and the full-size spare tire is mounted low on the rear door for improved visibility. Two new paint hues, Alveston Red and Kent Green, and more color combinations are available for 2000.
Step inside and you'll find Discovery's interior is as distinctive as its exterior. Like the exterior, the interior was completely redesigned last year with the aim of reducing British eccentricity. British luxury remains, however. Window switches are rearranged into a more logical layout. An automatic climate control provides separate temperature controls for driver and passenger and is easy to reach and adjust. For 2000, a compass was added along with a handy pointer on the fuel gauge to remind you which side the fuel filler door is on. An outside temperature readout is useful when traveling.
The driver's seat affords excellent visibility and there's lots of headroom. The top of the windshield was raised to see overhead traffic signals easier, but you may still need to duck a bit to see the light change. (Traffic signals are mounted on posts in England.)
The Leather Appearance Package includes leather seating surfaces, wood trim, Alcantara material on door casings (that looks and feels like suede), a 12-speaker harman/kardon stereo and special 16-inch alloy wheels. High-quality leather and supportive seats make the Discovery interior classy and comfortable.
The step up to Discovery's interior is a big one and getting into the back seats is a squeeze due to a narrow rear door opening; kids don't have any trouble, but shorter, older folks find it challenging. Once back there, it's comfortable. Rear-seat passengers sit higher and can view the world through expansive side windows, upper alpine windows and their own (optional) sunroof. Optional foldaway seats provide room for two more passengers in the cargo area. These front-facing jump seats feature cleverly designed head restraints that pop down from the ceiling, along with three-point seat belts. With the optional rear seats, the Discovery can seat seven passengers, but it's far more comfortable with four. Interior stowage abounds with bins and pockets. There's a 12-volt accessory socket in the cargo area. Cargo nets, tie-downs, grab handles and a cargo cover come standard.
Discovery Series II drives much better than the first-generation models. While pre-1999 models felt tentative in transient maneuvers and leaned through corners, the Series II feels firmly planted and tackles curves with confidence.
In spite of its refined roadworthiness, the Discovery Series II has not lost Land Rover's renowned off-road capability. It still features lots of suspension travel to climb over rocky terrain. Permanent four-wheel drive means there's nothing the driver needs to do before plunging off road. Discovery comes standard with a four-speed ZF automatic transmission. A transfer case provides a low range for extremely steep or slippery terrain.
It's in extreme conditions that the Discovery really shines. We drove one through deep, unplowed snow, over icy roads and on treacherous primitive paths around the world and the Discovery never hesitated. It always went places where other 4WD vehicles could not go. Exceptional wheel travel with excellent articulation means that when the left front wheel drops into a big hole, the right rear wheel is less likely to lift off the ground. A high ground clearance, generous angles of approach and departure and the capability of wading through 20 inches of water mean few obstacles will stop a Discovery.
Land Rover's sophisticated traction control system detects wheel slippage and automatically applies brake pressure to the spinning wheel, thereby directing torque to the wheels with the best traction.
Hill Descent Control maintains a controllable vehicle speed during steep off-road descents: The system works in low range below 34 mph. Simply press a button and keep your feet off the pedals. Hill Descent Control automatically applies brake pressure and uses engine braking, so the Discovery confidently creeps down terrifyingly steep grades.
Electronic Brake Distribution takes the anti-lock brake system well beyond standard ABS. Electronic Brake Distribution provides quicker, safer stops by transferring braking force front to rear to ensure optimum balance and stability.
The Series II long-travel, live-axle suspension is light years better than the old Discovery's and shares much in common with the $59,000 Range Rover. Discovery's wider track and new steering geometry provide more stable highway manners. The Discovery uses a strong body-on-frame design. It is a superb design for off-road driving. Side-impact beams are designed into all four doors, rather than just the front doors, as is the case for many SUVs.
So much for standard equipment. Active Cornering Enhancement or ACE, which comes with the optional Performance Package, reduces body lean in turns. It uses hydraulic actuators, sort of like an active anti-roll bar. Anyone who spends most of their time on the road will benefit and appreciate this package. But it isn't necessary to enjoying the Discovery. And at nearly $3,000, it can be difficult to justify. So, if you don't care about charging around on-ramps or down country roads at high rates of speed, then you should feel fine passing on this option.
The optional Self-Leveling Suspension (SLS) keeps the Discovery level when carrying heavy cargo and can be used to manually raise or lower the vehicle for off-road situations or for attaching a trailer. This may be another place to save a few bucks.
Land Rover Discovery Series II now offers truly refined on-road handling. Technology makes it one of the most advanced sport-utility vehicles in its price range. The interior is roomier and much more user friendly than previously.
Land Rover's Discovery Series II continues to be priced lower than many people realize. It should be on the shopping list for anyone who wants distinctive styling, off-road capability and panache.
Discovery Series II ($34,150).
Options As Tested
Leather Appearance Package ($1950) includes leather seating surfaces, eight-way power front seats, wood trim, 12-speaker harman/kardon stereo.
Discovery Series II.
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