The Disco is back. Not the Bee Gees; the Land Rover Disco. And it brings back something that is very hard to find in a luxury SUV these days: your choice of a supercharged gas V-6 or a turbodiesel V-6. Plus, it has an adult-friendly third row without the supersized exterior footprint to go with it.
What It Is
The Disco fills the slot in Land Rover's lineup vacated by the retiring LR4.
Prices start at $49,990 for the SE trim with the supercharged 3.0-liter gas V-6. HSE trims come with either the supercharged V-6 or a turbodiesel V-6. The supercharged HSE starts at $56,959. With the diesel engine, prices begin at $58,950.
A top-of-the-line First Edition Discovery with the supercharged gas V-6 costs $73,950. These are serialized (2,500 will be built) and come with unique interior and exterior trim.
The Disco name goes way back to the '80s, but the vehicle it's affixed to is a clean sheet, an all-new design that retains the essential elements, including a stepped roof to make for more headroom in the second and third rows, and its formidable off-road capabilities.
The supercharged V-6 engine offers instant thrust.
The diesel V-6 has 443 foot-pounds of torque. It's grunt enough to pull more than 7,700 pounds.
It has three rows of real seats.
It has finger-light steering at low speed and shows adroit handling at high speed.
What's Not So Good
There's no defroster grid embedded in the windshield. Most Land Rovers have this very helpful winter feature.
Under the Hood
The standard 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 offers 340 instant horsepower -- no waiting for the turbo to spool up.
The optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 puts out massive quantities of torque: 443 foot-pounds just off idle speed at 1,750 rpm. That's enough to pull 7,700 pounds of trailer and ideal for serious off-road work.
It can also get from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. The supercharged engine gets you there in 6.9 seconds.
All Discos have the same ultra-capable full-time 4WD system with low-range gearing, multiple selectable terrain modes and 8.6 inches of ground clearance. If you opt for the air suspension, you can jack the thing up 11.1 inches via a console-mounted switch.
On the Road
The Disco does not drive like any other off-road-capable SUV. The experience is immediately distinctive. It's not just the blower and that fabulous background keening; it's that it's light on its feet and poised.
With a low speed, the steering feels overboosted at first. But this changes as speed increases. Effort increases, and there's just enough weight to give feedback. It's as easy to dock into a tight spot when you're barely moving as it is to steer it through a corner at high speed.
It lacks the on-road oafishness in the curves that usually comes with serious off-road credentials.
The Disco is as easy to live with every day as a Camry -- but it's a lot more capable.
At the Curb
The Disco has grown.
It is now almost as large as the Range Rover and 5.2 inches longer overall than the outgoing LR4. It rides on the same 115-inch wheelbase as the Range Rover and is otherwise similar in dimensions.
But it's arguably more space-efficient, especially if you need a third row, which isn't offered in the Range Rover.
And that third row is adult-friendly, a very rare find outside of leviathan class SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade ESV or the extended-wheelbase Lincoln Navigator.
The Disco also has more cargo room than the standard-wheelbase Range Rover, and virtually the same cargo room as the long-wheelbase RR. It has 45 cubic feet with the second row folded and 82.7 cubic feet with the first and second row folded, whereas the Range Rover has 32.1 feet with its second row up and 71.7 with the second row down. The long-wheelbase RR (which is 8 inches longer) maxes out at 82.8 cubic feet.
There are nine USB ports, so no one will ever go unplugged.
You can configure the second and third row positions remotely via your phone.
There is a Fitbit-style waterproof activity bracelet to wear so you don't have to carry keys with you or worry about them getting wet. Instead, you leave the keys safely locked and dry inside.
And the negatives? Well, the windshield hasn't got the embedded grid heater system that Land Rover vehicles used to have and the Range Rover still has. This feature keeps ice from forming as you drive and clears the windshield of ice on cold days so you don't have to chip at it with a chisel. It's an excellent feature, and Land Rover ought to bring it back.
The Bottom Line
Don't let the dual DVD rear entertainment system or the outstanding 14-speaker Meridian ultra-premium audio rig fool you. This is a machine that can go extremely off-road, as opposed to striking an off-road pose. And it doesn't compromise on the road either.
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon.To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.