After four years on the market, the Land Rover Discovery gets a thorough refresh for 2021. The Discovery, which occupies the middle of the range in Land Rover’s SUV lineup between the smaller Discovery Sport and larger Range Rover, gains a host of new features and a design update. New looks and technologies inside do not take away from the 4-wheel-drive Discovery’s traditional trail-following, mud-traversing, and cliff-climbing off-road capabilities.
Design changes don’t completely transform the Discovery’s styling, retaining its upscale yet hugely functional look. The new details are very well done, with new LED headlights and taillights, the latter of which wraps around the rear corners. Both front and rear bumpers are also revised, as is the front grille. A bright strip across the bottom of the front valance makes the new Discovery appear better planted to the ground when viewed from the front, even though ride height has not changed.
Inside, the Discovery offers a digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver and a new, more conventional fore-aft operating gear lever in place of the past versions' rotary dial. Seven seats are standard equipment, though the third row uses a power-folding mechanism as standard only on the top-line 3.0 HSE R-Dynamic trim level.
Discovery powertrains now all gasoline; diesel power is gone
Engines are thoroughly revised for 2021. Two gas engines are now offered in the 2021 Discovery. The Discovery 2.0 S and 2.0 S R-Dynamic use a new 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine making 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The 3.0 R-Dynamic and 3.0 HSE R-Dynamic use a turbocharged 3.0-litre 6-cylinder developing 355 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is also a mild hybrid drivetrain, using a 48-volt electrical system, which other Land Rover and Range Rover models have debuted recently.
Naturally, 4-wheel drive is standard on all 2021 Discovery trims, and includes Land Rover’s Terrain Response System, which can be dialled-in for various on- or off-road driving conditions. Both engines employ an 8-speed automatic transmission, though only the 3.0-litre-powered Discovery SUVs have a 2-speed transfer case with ultra-low gearing that maximizes off-road crawling and steep climbing. Minimum ground clearance is 8.7 inches (23 centimetres), unchanged from 2020.
Performance and towing
No numbers are yet available for the 2021 Land Rover Discovery’s performance data or fuel economy. However, we can speculate that the new turbocharged 3.0-litre models should improve straight-line performance over the 2020 versions since they have much higher torque figures than the outgoing supercharged V6 models (365 pound-feet of torque versus 332). As long as there is not a significant weight gain from ’20 to ’21 (for which we do not yet have official numbers), the new SUVs should be a bit quicker.
Discovery 2.0 S and Discovery 2.0 R-Dynamic models enable towing up to 6,613 pounds (3,000 kilograms) with the 4-cylinder. In contrast, the larger engine in the 6-cylinder tows up to 8,200 pounds (3,720 kilograms). Land Rover’s Advanced Tow Assist makes it easier to back up while hooked to a trailer. The driver simply steers while backing up using the central controller knob while the vehicle calculates the steering angle required.
Standard active driver aids and safety gear include rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. Convenience tech features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 4G Wi-Fi, and surround camera visibility with a 360-degree parking aid.
New to the Discovery, Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View front camera system uses a group of cameras to portray a view onto the infotainment screen of what’s immediately in front of the vehicle as if the hood and front body structure were invisible. When proximity to hard objects and front tire placement is critical during off-roading maneuvers, it greatly benefits. Land Rover’s ClearSight Rear View employs additional camera trickery with an available rear-view mirror that you can switch between conventional function and displaying a feed from a wide-angle camera—the latter offers the benefit of a wider field of view as well as one that’s not blocked by rear-seat passengers or bulky cargo.
Large infotainment touchscreen
All 2021 Land Rover Discovery models come standard with a revised infotainment touchscreen, which is larger (11.4 inches) and faster-acting than before, thanks to a quicker computer processor. An 8-speaker, 180-watt sound system with satellite radio is standard, though a 15-speaker; 700-watt Meridian sound system is optional (though it is standard on the top-trim HSE R-Dynamic Discovery).
How much will the updated 2021 Land Rover Discovery cost?
Pricing for the 2021 Land Rover Discovery models starts at $68,600 CDN for the Discovery 2.0 S base model. The 6-cylinder Discovery S 3.0 starts at $73,700 CDN and can ascend to the top Discovery 3.0 HSE R-Dynamic model that starts at $85,400 before any options are ordered.