Age of Discovery
Land Rover introduces a new brand of SUVs.
With the launch of the Discovery Sport earlier this year, Land Rover has begun to bring more logic and clarity to its branding and model-naming practices. No longer will the same vehicle be identified by a name in Europe and a code of numbers and letters in the United States: No more Discovery 4 on one side of the Atlantic and LR4 on the other. And if there are questions concerning the difference between a Land Rover and a Range Rover, the Discovery Sport’s introduction helps to answer them.
Land Rover is the company, and the Range Rover is its flagship vehicle. But Range Rover is also the collective brand name of Land Rover’s lineup of luxury, off-road-ready SUVs that includes the Range Rover, the sporty Evoque, and the compact Sport. Discovery, a Land Rover model name in Europe, is now the new brand name in the United States and abroad for the company’s lineup of SUVs that are priced below the Range Rover and equipped and engineered for more leisurely driving. As if to announce the rebranding, “DISCOVERY” is set in marquee letters and bas-relief on the bonnet and boot—or rather, the hood and tailgate—of the Discovery Sport.
Available now for a base price of just under $38,000, the Discovery Sport will replace Land Rover’s LR2 (known as the Freelander 2 in Europe) by the end of the year. A larger, pricier model called simply the Discovery will eventually replace the LR4 (aka the Discovery 4). Land Rover is also said to be redesigning (and maybe renaming) the doughty Defender, a dray horse of an SUV built to conquer nature’s mightiest obstacles, and planning to again market it in the United States. The company stopped selling the vehicle here in 1997 in part because it did not comply with U.S. airbag requirements.
The Discovery Sport is roomier, quieter, and nippier than the LR2, and more than 3 inches longer. Land Rover uses the extra length to offer an optional third row of seating that will accommodate two youngsters. Each of the standard five seats offers adequate support for travel on highways and off-road. Without the optional seating, the Discovery Sport has 32 cubic feet of cargo space, which more than doubles when the second row is folded down.
The vehicle is built around a unibody made of steel, but its fenders, clamshell hood, roof, and rear hatch are aluminum, which helps keep the curb weight at about 4,000 pounds. The chassis and much of the body are similar to those of the pricier, slightly smaller, and less roomy Evoque, which has been selling like a James Patterson thriller since its introduction in 2012.
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