Review update: 2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6 smooths off-roader’s rougher edges

Diesel powertrains might be on the ropes, but what’s left hits like a freight train. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 is one of the last left standing due to its outstanding applications including the three-row 2019 Land Rover Discovery TD6.

For some, the smoother lines of this generation’s Disco forsake its barndoor-shaped heritage and alpine windows. For all of us, the new Discovery’s improved interior is a welcome upgrade from yesteryear’s bricks. Its price tag is far richer: our test model rang the bell at more than $80,000, which is about $20,000 more than a base diesel SE with seven seats and likely a better deal.

But it’s the available turbodiesel that piqued our interest. We’ve had limited time in the turbodiesel since this Discovery was new for the 2017 model year. After a week in the 2019 Discovery Td6, we have some new ideas for the SUV with an old name.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Hit: Flawless transmission

The turbodiesel’s hit parade starts down ballot with the 8-speed automatic, tasked with winding through the oil-burner’s sweet spot in the rev range—around 1,800 to 3,000 rpm.

That’s a fat slice of torque, but it’s where the turbodiesel is quietest and its benefits above the gas engine are more noticeable. The transmission handles it all deftly, especially at low speeds where it can damp any hint of turbo lag with crisp downshifts.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Miss: Infotainment still too complicated

Land Rover’s recent addition of smartphone compatibility software runs around some of the native system’s wonkiness, but only some of them. Radio tuning, some climate controls, and vehicle setup is still controlled through the native system, which can sometimes require multiple button presses for a single action like changing the radio station.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Hit: Spacious third row…

Not that I’d want to sit in it for any long stretch, but the Land Rover Discovery’s third row is more spacious than it appears. On paper, the third row leg room measures more than 33 inches, which is on par with larger family-focused crossovers such as the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Miss: …but the cargo room takes a hit

With the third row in place, not much more than a wet sneeze will comfortably fit in the cargo compartment—just 6.1 cubic feet, and most of that is vertical space. Fold the third row down, like most owners will do, and that space grows to nearly 40 cubic feet which is better but the Discovery has a high load floor. Bonus round: Our tester’s electronics were confused when we tried to fold the second and third floors independently and the power-operated load shelf intermittently raised and lowered whenever we opened the rear.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Hit: Spacious and airy interior

Despite a smoother profile with fewer windows for this generation, the Discovery’s interior is exceptionally bright and airy. The big SUV is comfortable and well-appointed with soft materials and wood on nearly every touchable surface. The shiny black plastic in the center console may scratch over time, especially considering the Discovery’s off-road mission, but the Land Rover’s luxury bona fides are beyond question.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Miss: Ergonomic quibbles

The window switches and door locks are still tucked into odd places on the window and door handle respectively, and the volume knob is on the wrong side for us colonialists. (More than a couple times I reached to turn the radio up and inadvertently opened a hidden storage cubby behind the hard buttons for climate controls.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Td6

Hit: Off-roadability

A Land Rover that’s scared of the dirt is not much more than a paperweight. The Discovery makes good, and then some more. There are six off-road programs in addition to a low-range transfer case and hill-descent control program. In addition to nearly 3 feet of wading depth, the Discovery has an approach angle of 34 degrees and a departure angle of 30 degrees—far better than most family crossovers, but short of a Jeep Wrangler 4-Door.


2019 Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6

Base price: $69,825 (including mandatory destination)

Price as tested: $80,915

EPA Fuel Economy: 21/26/23 mpg

Observed fuel economy: 21 mpg in mixed city/highway conditions for more than 200 miles, according to trip computer

Hits: Legendary capability, luxurious cabin, space for seven, great powertrain

Misses: Weird button placement, small-ish cargo area, funky touchscreen

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