Land Rover Discovery 4 (2009 – 2017) Review
Land Rover Discovery 4 (2009 – 2017) At A Glance
The Land Rover Discovery 4 is one of the best SUVs in the world. If you demand proper off-road ability to go with your spacious and luxurious family car, the ‘Disco’ is arguably the only choice for the price. It’s a car that bridges the gap between authentic 4x4 workhorses like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Shogun, and premium road-going SUVs like the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. It’s not perfect, for reasons which we’ll explain in a moment, but it speaks volumes that the Discovery 4 remains in such high demand.
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An evolution rather than a revolution: the Land Rover Discovery 4 was a comprehensive revamp of the Discovery 3, with Land Rover taking the best bits of the earlier model, then making improvements across the board. The result was a Discovery that felt closer to a Range Rover than ever before.
Launched in 2009, the Discovery 4 enjoyed a long production run, with loyal owners growing to love its compelling blend of on-road comfort, off-road brilliance and interior space. Thanks to seven seats, the Discovery 4 became a favourite of school-run parents who didn’t fancy owning a humdrum MPV. More than a decade on, the Discovery 4 remains as desirable as ever, maybe more so than the current model.
It has everything going for it. The chunky and upmarket styling wouldn’t look out of place in the Land Rover range today – many people prefer it to the softer and controversial look of the current Discovery. Inside, the Discovery 4 also feels noticeably more upmarket than the Discovery 3, even if elements like the infotainment system and trim materials are beginning to show their age.
This thing is huge. Even in seven-seat mode, boot space is on a par with a supermini. If the third row of seats isn’t required, luggage capacity rivals a large estate car, while a Discovery 4 in two-seat mode is cavernous enough to shame a large van. Crucially, the rearmost seats are suitable for teenagers. This isn’t always the case in a seven-seat SUV.
All versions come with a V6 diesel engine and an automatic transmission. As a basic guide, the later the Discovery 4, the better it will be. The 2.7-litre TDV6 diesel was a hangover from the Discovery 3 and isn’t up to the challenge of powering this goliath of an SUV. The 3.0-litre TDV6 is preferable. Better still, opt for the later 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel, which is both more efficient and more powerful. As for automatic transmissions, the six-speed unit is adequate, but the eight-speed gearbox is more flexible.
Buying a Land Rover Discovery 4 makes most sense if you intend to venture off-road. Few cars are as good as tackling the rough stuff as a ‘Disco’, so you’re free to climb every mountain and ford every stream. Thanks to a maximum towing capacity of 3,500kg, it’s also ideal for towing a caravan or large trailer.
So what are the drawbacks? Running costs are one. The sheer weight of the Discovery 4 means that its diesel engine has to work incredibly hard, so fuel economy will be poor. Then there’s the cost of parts and maintenance. The complex software and hardware will be expensive to fix when something goes wrong. Note the use of the word ‘when’.
Which is why we recommend buying a Discovery 4 via the Land Rover approved used scheme while you still can. You’ll pay more for a later model, but these are the best resolved of the crop, and the warranty should provide some initial reassurance.