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1998 Land Rover Discovery REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Poor gas mileage, bad interior ergonomics, and spotty reliability.

Pro: Off-road ability, unique design.

What’s New: Changes to the Discovery include interior trim enhancements for the LE and LSE. The rearview mirror also features map lights for the first time.

Review: Introduced in April 1994, this compact 4X4 builds on a couple of Land Rover legends. Designed for go-anywhere capability, the Discovery exhibits excellent off-road prowess. Built in England, the Discovery also exhibits a distressing tendency toward reliability problems. We receive lots of horror stories regarding Discovery reliability via e-mail, and Automobile magazine conducted a long-term test with a very troublesome 1995 model. Just one body style is available: a five-door wagon with permanent four-wheel drive. An automatic transmission is standard.

Beneath the hood of all models sits an aluminum 4.0-liter, 182-horsepower V8 engine. Acceleration isn't bad, but is accompanied by gear noise and other aural annoyances. Worse, this powerplant is rated for 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway, and that's with a light foot. Sizable ground clearance (8.1 inches) is a bonus while off-roading, but contributes to the Discovery's tendency to lean through curves and corners, and also makes it harder to climb inside. Though firm, the sport-utility's suspension delivers a suitable ride, via 16-inch tires.

The driver sits high--three feet above the road surface. Rear passengers sit higher still, for a superior view. Seating is available for seven, in the form of center facing, stowable rear seats. Though roomy enough, the Discovery holds fewer luxury fittings than might be expected in this price league. Only a handful of options are available. The spare tire resides outside. The driver and front passenger have adjustable lumbar supports and enjoy the benefits of dual-temperature control air conditioning. A full-size glovebox and four cupholders are included.

Changes for 1998 are limited to interior enhancements. Both models get new rearview mirror-mounted map lights and a second row armrest; LSE models get wood interior trim, a leather-covered gearshift knob and a Harmon Kardon stereo.

Legendary off-road capabilities help make the aluminum-bodied Discovery an attractive choice, augmented by safety equipment. If you expect to drive mainly around the suburbs rather than through the woods, the Discovery's high center of gravity and short wheelbase could be a drawback. The fact that a Discovery can ford a stream up to 19.7 inches deep isn't exactly a benefit when its primary duties involve driving to the office or the mall. In urban America, the Discovery is all about prestige, and it doesn't come cheaply or conveniently. We recommend the Discovery for off-road use, but most consumers will want a different truck in which to haul the Little Leaguers.

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