2001 Discovery New Car Test Drive
In a world overrun by minivans posing as sport-utilities, the Land Rover Discovery is the real thing, the Swiss Army knife. It is the authentic 4x4. Few SUVs can venture as far off road, into the backcountry as the Discovery can go. Its suspension articulation and permanent four-wheel-drive system must be experienced in extreme conditions to truly be appreciated.
With its distinctive Land Rover styling and heritage, the Discovery is often thought to be expensive, yet it starts at just $33,350.
The Discovery was a winner out of the box. After it was introduced to North America in 1994, Land Rover's total sales climbed from 4906 to 23,826 by 1997. For 1999, the Discovery was redesigned and re-engineered (with some 13,000 new parts); the changes were dramatic enough that Land Rover dubbed it the Discovery Series II. With no price increase, it boosted overall Land Rover sales another 30 percent. The new chassis and suspension made it easier to drive on the highway without sacrificing any of the legendary off-road capability. Refinements to the interior reduced some of the quirkiness without losing that Land Rover charm. Freshened styling made it look more confident without losing its distinctive appearance.
In 2001, the Discovery line features new model designations and more optional equipment. Three trim levels are available: SD ($33,350), LE ($34,350) and SE ($36,350).
Adding the Rear Seat Package ($1750) option (available on any model) changes these designations to SD7, LE7 and SE7, respectively. The '7' designation indicates a third row of forward-facing rear jump seats, making room for 7 passengers. The SD7, LE7 and SE7 also include SLS, the self-leveling suspension system, and a hydraulic rear step.
Standard features include Rover's 4.0-liter V8, a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, Land Rover's permanent four-wheel drive, a sophisticated four-wheel electronic traction control system, Hill Descent Control, and a four-channel all-terrain anti-lock braking system.
Also standard are eight-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, heated power mirrors, power windows and door locks, child safety locks, cruise control, rear window washer and wiper, and halogen headlamps with washers. The SD, LE and SE all use 16-inch alloy wheels, but the styles are different.
Our test model was an SD, $33,350. For 2001, cloth seats are replaced by a beige vinyl-like covering called Duragrain. It's attractive and looks sturdy. The SD audio system is an Alpine 100-watt with six speakers.
LE, with a base price of $34,350, features a leather interior package. It's distinguished by its two-tone front grille, partially painted front bumper, integrated fog lights, and headlamp power washers. The interior is Indiana Brown leather with modest wood trim.
The most popular model is the SE, which comes with a full leather interior. The leather comes in three colors, beige and two shades of gray. The seats have center armrests and power lumbar control. The Alpine sound system is a 220-watt 10-channel with 12 speakers, plus a six-disc CD changer. SE also comes standard with HomeLink, a Class III trailer tow hitch receiver, and a roll-up rear load space cover. The SE7 includes remote audio system controls and headphone jacks for the rear seat passengers.
An optional Performance Package ($2,900) includes Land Rover's Active Cornering Enhancement system and 18-inch wheels and tires.
The other primary options are: rear air conditioning ($750); Self-Leveling Suspension ($750); and the Rear Seat Package ($1,750), which includes the self-leveling suspension.