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2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

As with any Land Rover, the 2019 Discovery Sport outshines its competitors over rough terrain. Additionally, both of its engine options are powerful and can propel this SUV with ease. Its on-road handling is respectable, though the Discovery Sport isn't as refined as some rivals, and it has a below-average fuel economy rating.

  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)
  • "Like its close relative, the Range Rover Evoque, the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport feels supremely stable and well-coordinated on winding roads, with the accurate steering imparting solid feedback to the driver." -- Edmunds (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Discovery Sport doesn't pack as much punch in its standard or optional engine as some of its performance-oriented competitors, but even with its lower horsepower ratings, this SUV gets no complaints for being short on power. Instead, reviewers agree that both engines move the Discovery Sport quickly. There isn't a consensus on the nine-speed automatic transmission, though. Some test drivers say it's responsive, while others note that it can struggle to shift at the right moment.

The standard engine in all trim levels is a 237-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It has one of the worst fuel economy ratings in the class, at 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

For an additional $6,000 to $7,000, you can upgrade the engine in the HSE and HSE Luxury trims to a turbocharged 286-horespower four-cylinder. It's the same size as the base engine, but clever tuning awards it a zero-to-60 sprint time of 6.3 seconds, which is almost a second quicker than the base engine’s. The upgraded engine gets 1 mpg less in the city, but matches the base engine's highway fuel economy rating.

  • "Power comes from a 237-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired with a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic. With this setup, the Discovery Sport is quick, but not fast. To get fast, you'll need to move up to the 286-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo in the HSE trim that returns a 0-60-mph run of 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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Discovery Sport maintains an acceptable level of composure on the highway, but it isn't perfect. It lacks the silky smooth ride of some competitors and other Land Rovers. Despite the name, this SUV doesn't have sporty tuning, and it can succumb to body lean on twisty roads.

Take the Discovery Sport off the pavement and it excels. It has better off-roading abilities than other luxury compact SUVs, and it’s a little less aggressive than larger Land Rovers. Every model comes with four-wheel drive, the cruise-control-like All Terrain Progress Control, hill descent control, and four Terrain Response drive modes (General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand).

  • On the road, the Discovery Sport isn't as smooth riding as an Audi Q5 or a Lincoln MKX, but then again neither of these competitors can follow the Discovery Sport when it comes to tackling off-road obstacles." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Land Rovers are known for their go-anywhere tenacity. The Disco lacks the low-range gearbox of a true off-roader, but with a bit of struggle it managed to clamber its way up our steep off-road rock slope. That's thanks to the help of electronic modes designed for mud, ruts, or sand, part of a Terrain Response system that all Land Rovers possess. And if facing a whoa-this-is-really-steep ravine or gully, hill-descent control lets the driver stay off the brakes, letting the vehicle automatically crawl down the scary stuff. Those are challenges that other light-duty SUVs wouldn't have the capability to surmount." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • We highly recommend you skip the optional 20-inch wheels, though, as they are at least partly responsible for a ride that tends toward jittery on imperfect surfaces. They generate a smattering of road noise, too. Smaller wheels would certainly improve things on both counts, but no Discovery Sport will deliver the sort of plush ride quality of its pricier air-suspended siblings." -- Edmunds (2016)
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