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SEE ALSO: Land Rover Buyer's Guide

Land Rover is the venerable name in European sport-utility vehicles. The company has been making sturdy utility machines since 1948, and there is a unique aura about them. Land Rover products have long been the transportation of choice for explorers and sportsmen in the far reaches of the old British Empire. An African wildlife or tropical expedition documentary isn't complete without one. The original Land Rovers were basically trucks and exceedingly practical vehicles for the bush or country. In England and elsewhere around the globe they were used much the same as our pickup trucks and small jeeps. In 1970, recognizing that many of its basic vehicles were being used for go- anywhere passenger vehicles Land Rover built the Range Rover, the first luxury sport-utility. With its leather and walnut interior, the Range Rover County was (and is) just the thing for driving around the grounds at the summer estate, but perhaps a bit pricey for the mass market. As sport-utility sales skyrocketed in the past few years, a new mid-line Land Rover, the Discovery, was created.

The Discovery is a close cousin to the larger Range Rover County (LWB). It has the same type of rugged boxed-steel ladder chassis and long-travel suspension as its more expensive cousin but simpler suspension and drivetrain designs. This and its more modest standard interior appointments allow the Discovery to be sold at a price that is very competitive with other popular sport-utilities.

We drove the newest Discovery rather extensively both on and off-road. It has good road manners in the city and on the highway, and on a rugged off-road course it displays the handling characteristics that made Land Rover synonymous with go-anywhere in safety, style and class.

APPEARANCE: The new Discovery is unmistakably Land Rover. It is a boxy, functional piece of machinery, handsome in a rugged sort of way. Short, high, and with little overhang beyond the large wheels and tires, it looks like a safari vehicle. Many items demonstrate its versatility. Among them are formidable bumpers equipped with pull hooks in front and a tow bar in back, headlight washers, rear washer wiper and defogger, large all-season tires, a high cab with a low step-up, and mud flaps. Its aluminum bodywork has few frills. The extra windows curving into the roof (Alpine windows) and two sunroofs give the rear-seat passengers a good upward view and make the Discovery unique.

COMFORT: While the Discovery is a SUV on the outside, inside it touches on luxury. It can seat from two to seven, there are many storage spaces, cup holders, comfortable and supportive seating, remote locking, plus power windows and mirrors. The rear jump seats are good for kids, and like the leather upholstery, optional. The temperature control system has dual temperature settings for each side, and when the optional rear area is installed all passengers are assured of a comfortable cabin. The four-speaker radio/cassette/CD player has excellent sound. Retained power makes it possible to close windows and sunroof after the ignition is turned off.

SAFETY: The Discovery is as safe as it is rugged. It is fitted with dual front airbags, side door impact beams, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, three-point outboard seat belts, and rear door child locks. Its rugged ladder frame and large bumpers aid in minimizing damage.

ROADABILITY: The Discovery has a short wheelbase, high center of mass, and a soft, very outback- capable suspension. It offers excellent handling when used within its design parameters, but fast cornering is a bad idea. With power steering it is easy to maneuver whether in town on the outback, and its braking system assures safe stopping. It can agilely climb over boulders, ford streams up to 20 inches deep, tour over deeply rutted roads, and even tow a trailer. All-around visibility is fantastic, and the cabin is well insulated. Engine noise and gravel pinging on the underside do intrude

PERFORMANCE: "Performance" takes on a slightly different meaning with a vehicle like the new Discovery. Acceleration and cornering speed are much less important than towing capacity, climbing or declining ability, and approach and departure angle. Land Rover's 3.9 liter aluminum V8 engine develops 232 lb/ft of torque for heavy hauling and 182 horsepower for performance purposes. Low gearing and a torquey engine provide a 5500-pound towing capacity in high range and 7700 pounds in low. Our Discovery was equipped with the standard five-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic is available for those who prefer its convenience.

CONCLUSION: The 1995 Land Rover Discovery carries on the traditions of the larger County LWB. While well equipped with most of the modern conveniences it maintains its British heritage and is a vehicle that can literally go to the jungle, the veldt or the family castle.


           Base Price              $  29,350
           Price As Tested         $  34,550
           Engine Type             V-8, ohv - 16 valve, mpfi
           Engine Size             3.9 liter/241 cid
           Horsepower              182 @ 4750
           Torque (ft/lbs)         232 @ 3100
           Wheelbase/Length        100"/179"
           Transmission            five speed manual w/od 
           Curb Weight             4400
           Pounds per Horsepower   24
           Fuel Capacity           23
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (91 oct)
           Tires                   Michelin 235/70R16 4x4 all-season    
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard   disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/full-time all wheel drive
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
             city/highway/observed      13/16/14.1
           0 to 60 mph                  10.8 sec    
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.9 sec    
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .44