2002 Discovery New Car Test Drive
Think of Africa. No, dream of Africa, of giraffe and wildebeest wandering through tall grasslands, of lazy lions sulking in the sunlight. Now dream of an ideal vehicle for this idyllic land. Dream of a Land Rover, bounding over rocks and rills, fording creeks and rivers, thundering through the savanna.
A Land Rover is both legend and the real thing. It is the authentic 4x4 that can venture deep into the backcountry. Its suspension articulation, permanent four-wheel-drive system, and off-road technology must be experienced in extreme conditions to be truly appreciated. It also comes with retailers committed to customer satisfaction.
First introduced here in 1994, the Discovery brought the Land Rover experience to far broader range of American consumers. With its distinctive Land Rover styling and heritage, the Discovery is often thought to be expensive, yet it starts at just $33,350. Because of it, Land Rover's total sales climbed from 4906 in 1994 to 23,826 by 1997.
For 1999, the Discovery was significantly redesigned and re-engineered and was named 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 that legendary off-road capability.
Now, for 2002, Land Rover has invested $190 million in its Solihull, U.K. factory (and imported major know-how from parent company Ford) to dramatically improve quality control on all of its products, the Discovery included.
Two models are available: SD ($33,350) and SE ($37,150). For 2002, Discovery has dropped its previous mid-range LE model.
Adding the Rear Seat Package ($1,000) to either model expands seating capacity from five to seven and changes the model designation to SD7 or SE7. A hydraulic rear step comes with the forward-facing jump seats.
Standard features include an all-aluminum 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, halogen headlamps with washers, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The seats in our SD test model were covered with Duragrain, a beige vinyl-like material. It's attractive and looks tough. The SD audio system is an Alpine 100-watt unit with six speakers.
More popular is the SE, which comes with a leather interior, either in beige or two shades of gray. The seats have center armrests and power lumbar control. The sound system is a 220-watt, 10-channel Alpine unit with Lear amplifier and 12 Philips speakers, plus a six-disc CD changer. SE also comes standard with dual power glass sunroofs, HomeLink, a Class III trailer tow hitch receiver, and a roll-up rear load space cover. Eighteen-inch wheels and a silver-tone grille make the SE easy to spot. The SE7 includes remote audio controls and headphone jacks for the rear-seat passengers.
An optional Performance Package ($2,450) for the SE comprises Land Rover's Active Cornering Enhancement system and Self-Leveling Suspension.
Other major options include rear air conditioning ($750) and a Cold Climate Package ($500) that includes heated seats and windscreen. Dual sunroofs ($1,500) are available for the SD.