2009-on Land Rover Discovery 4 4×4 Review

Read our concise review of the Land Rover Discovery 4...

2009-on Land Rover Discovery 4 4x4 Review

by Calum Brown |

You can’t mistake it, either, thanks to the rear lights and a front grille dressed with two silver honeycombed bars that look like structural supports from a spaceship. There’s no petrol engine option for the UK this time, although some markets have a sumptuous 5.0-litre version of the Jaguar V8.

The old 2.7-litre TDV6 clung on for another year in more-basic-spec models, and if you wanted a Discovery 4 with a manual gearbox, you had no option but to choose a 2.7-engined version.

But the headline news was the arrival of a significantly more powerful 3.0-litre TDV6, with a revised and improved adaptive six-speed automatic gearbox.

When the 2.7-litre was dropped in 2010 so was the manual gearbox: for the first time ever, the Discovery was available only with an automatic transmission. The TDV6 assumed base-model duties and the mighty, twin-turbo SDV6 took over the top slot.

The new engine offers more than double the torque of the original Discovery 1’s 200Tdi motor – and that was lauded as being a big step up from the existing Land Rover diesel engines of the time. The SDV6 was upgraded further in July 2011, with extra horsepower but lower torque to help reduce emissions. More important at this point was the arrival of an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. It has a rotary gearshift selector and changes gear in an almost imperceptible 200 milliseconds.

The interior was completely restyled and trimmed in even higher-quality materials. Step between the two Discoverys and you know straight away that you’ve gone up another level again. Everything that was painted silver before is now polished aluminium (or at least looks like it), materials are more tactile, and fit and finish is improved.

Even the base models now feature direct connection for iPods, trailer stability assist (TSA) and a keyless push-button start. Higher up the range you get a reversing camera that uses the new 5in in-dash display screen, eight-way electric memory seats, automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, and many other goodies.

LRO rates the Discovery 4 as the most versatile of all the range, capable of dealing with anything thrown at it, from long-distance trips to mud-plugging; the most complete family car you can buy.

Here's a few things to look for:

EGRs. They're still playing up, so bear that in mind on higher-mileage examples.

Clutch. The manual 2.7s are struggling with the extra weight and technology: there are cases of some failing after just 65,000 miles of normal use. Some that have been subjected to a lot of off-roading needed a replacement clutch at 25,000 miles. Check for any slippage under load. Have a sniff outside the car for the tell-tale acrid smell of burning clutch.

Keyless entry system. There are plenty of reports that it's packing up, and Land Rover is still seeking a cure for this.

Reversing camera. A frequent complaint along with the steering-angle sensor.

Brake pads. They wear fast and need changing regularly. A life of just 15,000-20,000 miles is pretty normal.

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