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Land Rover Discovery 4 Review

heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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Land Rover Discovery

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heycar rating
"Versatile and luxurious family workhorse"
  • Launched: 2009
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Very desirable vehicle with a wide range of attributes
  • Quality, feel-good interior
  • High standards of ability both on the road and off it

Cons

  • Reliability concerns
  • High running costs
  • Too big and heavy for some

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Land Rover Discovery 2009 frontright exterior

Overall verdict

Land Rover Discovery 2009 front interior

On the inside

Land Rover Discovery 2009 frontright exterior

Driving

Land Rover Discovery 2009 back exterior

How much does it cost to run

Land Rover Discovery 2009 right exterior

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Discovery 4 isn’t perfect, and some of the negatives are rather major ones. But if you get a good one, its list of desirable attributes far outweighs them. Land Rover got the formula right with this one, something it arguably lost with the latest Discovery. Three years after production ended, the Discovery 4 is still worth a look."

Land Rover Discovery 2009 frontright exterior

The Land Rover Discovery 4 was a very successful and very comprehensive update to a modern design classic: the Discovery 3. This vehicle was right in so many ways, outside and in, so instead of chucking it out and starting again, Land Rover went through it with a fine-tooth comb and improved it in as many ways as possible.


Whereas the Discovery 3 was minimalist and purist, the ‘4’ reflected the upward trajectory of the Land Rover brand – and the growing influence of the Range Rover division. Some aspects of the Disco 3 were beloved by car designers wearing black polo shirts, but they seemed a bit too principal-driven for some owners. The Disco 4 brought in the bells, whistles, chrome and soft-touch surfaces. It was warmer and more welcoming as a result – and allowed Land Rover to charge higher prices.


This uplift in perceived quality and comfort was signalled on the outside with a full overhaul of the design. Formerly, the Discovery 4 was about tough black plastic set within simple, blocky lines, with the look of a giant Tonka toy. This time around, the black plastic was painted, the profile was smoothed off and the more Range Rover-like headlights gained a snazzy set of LED running lights.


One of the biggest changes was found beneath the wraparound bonnet. Instead of the slightly underpowered 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine of the Discovery 3, the Discovery 4 gained a 3.0-litre version, designated TDV6. It was more powerful and refined – and also, because it didn’t have to be worked as hard, more economical and less polluting.


All the core strengths of the Discovery remained in place, such as an enormous interior with three rows of very spacious seats. They folded flat into the floor when not in use, making the massive Discovery one of the most practical SUVs out there.


It’s also exceptional off-road – one of the best 4x4s in the world, in fact. Land Rover prides itself on its reputation for making peerless off-roaders, and a brilliant mix of electronic gadgetry and old-fashioned mechanical hardware make this the workhorse that can go places few others can.


Owners love sitting behind the wheel, because it feels so incredibly commanding and robust. They sit up high, with a lofty view across the bonnet, and the side windows are low so it’s an almost panoramic view to the front and side. You feel invincible when inside a Discovery.


Invincible isn’t quite the word we’d used to describe the Land Rover’s reliability record, though. It’s far from perfect, so you have to buy carefully. This is where the advantage of picking a car from an approved dealer comes in – these vehicles need regular maintenance to be at their best.


Still, if you can swallow the bills and the occasional reliability issue, you’ll have a very desirable car indeed. The Discovery 4 was so good, it stuck around for eight years, and Land Rover has arguably replaced it with a less desirable model. Let’s go through the range and explain what you need to know.


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Land Rover Discovery review.

Is the Land Rover Discovery 4 right for you?

If you love the idea of a Range Rover but want something that’s a bit less precious for everyday use – and has space for seven and a dog or two behind – you’ll certainly be drawn towards the Discovery 4. It’s the perfect blend of ruggedness and luxury that Land Rover still hasn’t quite matched with this vehicle’s replacement.


We stress, it’s a big machine. If you live in the city, you might find it a bit intimidating, particularly when parking or threading through narrow streets. And it feels substantial to drive, with fairly low-geared steering and a heavyweight attitude on the road. No wonder, when it weighs more than 2.5 tonnes.


But this is also key to its appeal for some. It feels unstoppable, and extremely safe and secure. Discovery fans love how solid and robust the big seven-seater is, and this blend of quality, robustness and space is why the Discovery 4 is the right vehicle for so many.

What’s the best Land Rover Discovery 4 model/engine to choose?

You can’t get a petrol engine with the Discovery 4: the only option is the V6 turbodiesel. In early 3.0-litre twin-turbo models this was designated TDV6, but it was upgraded later on with more power and even better fuel economy. If you can stretch to this SDV6 version, it’s highly recommended.


In early cars, you could still get the old 2.7-litre single-turbo diesel, but the 3.0-litre was such a big step on, we’d strongly urge you to track one down. All early Discovery 4s used a six-speed automatic gearbox, but this was upgraded for the 2012 model-year with the excellent ZF eight-speed automatic. Again, it’s a big step forward, so again worth tracking down if you’re able. 

What other cars are similar to the Land Rover Discovery 4?

The Discovery 4 is a rugged off-roader that’s very much of the ‘4x4’ school, rather than the more modern SUV-style of off-roader. Equally tough-as-old-boots alternatives include the Toyota Land Cruiser and, at a much higher price, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. A more affordable mud-plugger is the Mitsubishi Shogun.


There are other large SUVs that don’t quite match what the Land Rover does off-road, but do offer a nice, luxurious ride – cars such as the Volvo XC90, Volkswagen Touareg and even the BMW X5. Prices crept up throughout the Discovery 4’s life, meaning comparison with large premium SUVs is entirely valid.

Learn more

Land Rover Discovery 2009 front interior

On the inside

Land Rover Discovery 2009 frontright exterior

Driving

Land Rover Discovery 2009 back exterior

How much does it cost to run

Land Rover Discovery 2009 right exterior

Prices, versions and specification

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