$31,192 - $44,024

2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

For a luxury compact SUV, the 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport is incredibly capable off road, and it pairs a cushioned ride with nimble handling. The new-for-2018 turbo-four engines are both fine choices, but they’re held back by an automatic transmission that can hesitates to shift.

  • "For 2018, the new Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a pair of new engines and they're both a big improvement over engines in last year's model. All three trim levels are offered with a 237-horsepower version of the new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which is smoother and more responsive than last year's engine. Buyers wanting more power can upgrade to a 286-horsepower version in the top trim levels for about $7,000." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Discovery Sport may contain the word 'sport' in its name but don't let that bamboozle you. When it comes to cornering, the Disco has no sporty bone in its body. It builds up noticeable body lean early in the game, and the steering is neither very responsive nor communicates any meaningful feedback." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Land Rover completely redesigned the rear suspension compared to the Evoque in order to include the Discovery's optional third-row seating, but it also results in a more composed ride quality. Despite the 'Sport' tag, the Discovery's role is to provide smooth, efficient, capable transport, and it feels well tuned to that task." -- Edmunds (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Discovery Sport gets two new engines for the 2018 model year. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 237 horsepower. It has plenty of pickup and enough power for all driving situations.

Or you can opt for the 286-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. This engine makes the Disco Sport even quicker (Land Rover claims it will go zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds), and it has enough juice to contribute to a fun drive.

A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard, and it doesn’t do the engines any favors. Some critics find it doesn’t always deliver well-timed shifts, leading to an inconsistent driving experience.

Fuel economy estimates are not yet available for the 2018 Discovery Sport.

Despite its small size, the Discovery Sport isn’t worthless as a towing vehicle. When properly equipped, it can tow just over 4,400 pounds.

  • "The Discovery Sport's new 237-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is smooth and powerful. Acceleration is brisk enough for most buyers and the 9-speed automatic is a good match for the 4-cylinder engine. The more powerful 286-horsepower engine adds serious muscle. With that engine 0-60 mph takes just 6.3 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Discovery Sport's power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. While that may not sound too impressive, the engine makes 237 hp and has more than enough spunk to get you through an Icelandic winter and provide a little fun when the weather and roads dry out." -- Autotrader
  • "The nine-speed automatic transmission's inept programming, combined with the four-cylinder engine's all or nothing nature, creates a frustrating and inconsistent driving experience. Tromp on the gas pedal, and the slow-witted transmission clings to the taller gears far too long, denying you the quick getaway you asked for -- until a sudden downshift delivers a jarring kick in the trousers, accompanied by rudely noisy engine revs. Although the nine-speed gearbox is designed to save fuel, the vehicle was thirstier than the X3 and RDX; we averaged 21 mpg." -- Consumer Reports

Handling and Braking

Opinions are split about the Discovery Sport's athleticism. Some argue that the Disco Sport feels buttoned-down and ready to tackle winding roads, while others say it leans too much when taking turns and isn’t that agile. Ride quality is generally smooth, but you will feel some bumps from time to time.

  • "The Sport also isn't all that sporty to drive. It lumbers and leans around corners. On a winding road, your abdominals get a workout keeping your torso in the seat. Pushed hard, the electronic stability control ultimately kept the Land Rover on course in our emergency-handling tests, but the car was quite sloppy, first running wide, then displaying the onset of a tailslide. The Discovery Sport's ride falls short of luxury-level expectations as well. The suspension feels brittle, with every pavement rut and ripple reverberating through the body structure. That's irritating in any car, let alone a luxury crossover." -- Consumer Reports
  • Our only complaint is that the engine can be noisy at times. However, the cabin remains fairly quiet, and the ride is very smooth, which is surprising considering that we were running on those metal-spiked tires the whole time." -- Autotrader
  • "Once we found paved roads, the Discovery Sport balanced off-road prowess with on-road comfort. It offers nimble moves and a stable, planted ride. It changes direction willingly and leans very little in turns. The steering is fairly quick and nicely weighted, and the brakes are strong but sometimes a bit grabby. The suspension also does a fine job of soaking up most bumps." -- The Chicago Tribune (2016)

Off-Roading

Four-wheel drive is standard in every Discovery Sport. Land Rover's Terrain Response system also comes standard. It lets you select from four driving modes to best adapt vehicle driving dynamics to the terrain. Quite simply, the Discovery Sport is peerless in the luxury compact SUV class when it comes to off-road ability. This Land Rover can handle almost any terrain with ease, though it lacks the boulder-crossing abilities of some larger off-road specialists.

  • The Discovery Sport … does not have low-range gearing, so serious terrain like climbing boulders is out of the question. Although not without a struggle, it managed to scale our boulder strewn rock hill, where it was clear that it doesn't have the ground clearance and traction of 'real' Land Rovers." -- Consumer Reports
  • "… most of the Discovery Sport's competition can't follow it off-road. We tested the Discovery Sport on ice-covered Icelandic 'roads' during the dead of winter and never once got stuck or stranded." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "It also can't match other Land Rovers off road, lacking their ground clearance, wheel articulation, locking differential and low-range gearing. In this department it also falls short of similarly sized or priced Jeeps (Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, respectively). Nevertheless, the Discovery Sport does possess more capabilities off the beaten path than its luxury compact luxury SUV competitors. It has short overhangs, a capable all-wheel-drive setup and (most importantly) the Terrain Response system that adjusts various vehicle parameters for optimum traction on different surfaces like sand, snow or mud." -- Edmunds (2016)

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