A couple of weeks ago we told you about our rather underwhelming experience with the 2020 Mercedes GLC 300 4Matic. It was a $62,000 SUV that really didn’t do anything all that well and had an option list that was $20,000 long. Because of this experience we were doubly interested to get into the seat of the 2020 Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6 as it shares an identical price tag with the Mercedes.
Would this $62,000 luxury SUV do anything to impress us? Does it separate from the pack of similarly priced and sized machines in the field? The answer for us was a resounding yes. The week we spent with the 2020 Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6 proved that if you are going to spend the money on something, MOST ESPECIALLY a car, you need to really do the legwork, check all of your potential buying options, and weigh them out before making a purchase. We’ll go into greater detail below but as a head to head comparison between this Land Rover and the Mercedes, the Mercedes doesn’t even come close…at all.
The Land Rover Discovery has been around since the late 1980s and it has gone through several different generations. This latest generation is the first to be built outside of the UK. The trucks are assembled in Slovakia and it is also the first to be on a unibody chassis. The traditional body on frame construction was a hallmark of these machines for many years, but as time and technology advanced, engineers made the decision. The construction of the fifth generation Discovery is largely constructed of aluminum to save weight as well. It is the lightest version of the Discovery made to date.
Exterior-wise we like the design of the Discovery. It is simple and some would say iconic as 30 years of production have seen it evolve but not stray too far from its roots. It has the “tall” look on the outside and the “tall” feel on the inside that we like. The windshield is quite large and that added to the spacious feel of the Disco. This is also the most aerodynamic version of the Discovery. Combined with the weight reduction and the decreased drag, it makes for a more modern and efficient Rover.
Our test Land Rover was painted Portofino blue and was in the HSE Td6 trim. What does that mean?
This was the second to the top rung trim level. The HSE Luxury Td6 is the most expensive and equipped version of the Discovery. The price as tested was $62,725 and none of that came from individual option packages or items. Everything you see on this truck from here going forward was standard equipment for the HSE package. The Td6 of course stands for turbo diesel, we’ll get there in a minute.
Let’s get into the driving impressions that we came away with after a week and a few hundred miles in the Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6. We loved it. The air suspension that these trucks are equipped with make them the best riding SUVs on the planet. If you have never driven one and are considering shopping this section of the marketplace, you are cheating yourself out of a good option by not driving a Discovery in your shopping process. It is a unique experience in terms of its handling and comfort because it does both things well and the air suspension is the key.
Obviously the air suspension is a large part of the Discovery’s off-road prowess because of the ride heigh adjustments that can be made, but it is also a huge part of being able to cruise down the road and no have to get your fillings knocked out over choppy roads or get sea sick on undulating ones. We pushed the Discovery through some corners to see how the suspension adapted when asked to work under some more intense conditions and the machine kept flat and gripped the road.
The engine is a 3.0L turbo-diesel V6, a fairly unique power plant for this category. While it leaves a lot of horsepower on the table (254hp for the diesel and 340hp for the gasoline V6) as opposed to the gasoline engine, we felt that the diesel engine made this a premium SUV experience. Why? Because with that awesome 8-speed automatic there was a very deep well of torque to roll into whenever you wanted and the transmission would hold the gear you were in, not jump around as it would have needed to do with the gasoline engine.
The Discovery is not a drag strip hero but it is a capable mover and unless you are going to get into some impromptu street races with other high horsepower gasoline burning mid-size SUVs, you will never feel lacking for performance in day to day driving. The engine produces 443 lb-ft of torque and it is all really well managed through the eight speed.
The quiet power and torque where you want it is what gives a nice premium feel to the Rover. If you are spending the money to get from place to place in effortless comfort, you are not really looking for 6,000 RPM upshifts when you want to accelerate. This Discovery is a a steam locomotive as you lean into the throttle. Buttery smooth and it doesn’t seem to be breaking a sweat.
Lastly, you can see that we took these photos on a beach. Getting to the spot required us to cover more than a quarter mile of very deep, loose sand. We used the “sand” mode in the terrain selector and this baby was a boss. We watched pickup trucks and other SUV struggle to get through and we watched one guy bury a diesel Ford out there. We quietly, smoothly, and comfortably, walked on by.
The off-road capabilities of a Discovery are well, well, well beyond the competitors in this class of SUV.
Part of the experience in an SUV of this class is the interior. Obviously that is where many sales are made and lost in this market as the guts of the vehicle have to match the image and outward appearance of what it is tell you that it wants to be. The 2020 Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6 interior was as classy, understated, and comfortable as you’d expect at this price level. The materials used were very nice but not over the top. You will not mistake this for a $100,000 car but that’s not a knock. It delivers the experience that you’d expect and one that’s quiet, comfortable, and easy to tailor to the individual needs to drivers and passengers.
The front seas are very comfortable, adjustable in all of the ways, and the dash, center stack, and trim accents are all classy and cool. In 5-10 years this Discovery will not look dated or lame. This is a look that stands up.
Back seat comfort was high according to the people that we trucked around in the Disco and they liked the easy to operate climate control functions as well as the heated and cooled rear seats. Yes, both.
Long story short, the interior delivers in the same ways as the drivetrain and suspension do.
There is ample storage space behind the back seat. As we’re figuring most of the time a Discovery is doing things like getting groceries, Christmas presents, making trips to the local home improvement center, and hauling the family for a weekend away, we think there’s plenty of space to work with here. We made some runs for stuff we needed to finish home projects, we shopped for large quantities of food in it, and we were never wondering where we were going to put stuff.
The electrically deployable tailgate is cool and a nice place to sit on the beach. It does help make loading stuff easier as well, but mostly we liked it as a convenient place to work off of or just relax on.
So that’s our take on the 2020 Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6. You can see the window sticker above and know that we weren’t kidding when we told you that everything we told you about was part of the HSE Td6 trim and not one dime of the price was determined on option costs.
We’d be very hard pressed to find reasons to dissuade people from shopping the Discovery HSE Td6. We’re not saying everyone will buy it, but when you are shopping for a new car, it is imperative to set your price range and test all your options, even those you may not be familiar with. The quality of the Land Rover name is there, the price point is there, and the performance in fuel economy, comfort, potential off-road ability, and more is there as well.
This one sets the bar for the mid-size SUV class very, very high and so far we’ve not driven another one that clears it.