2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport

By May 4, 2020

The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport offers famous off-road capability in a compact crossover body. It’s practical and comfortable, too.

This year the Discovery Sport gets new headlights and taillights. New wheel designs echo the elegance of the Range Rover line. Under the hood, a new mild-hybrid powertrain is available in place of the standard turbo-4 for the priciest models. A 10-inch touchscreen is now standard, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility remains optional.

Skipping the new mild-hybrid—which is likely, since it comes on the top HSE trim—means sticking with the standard 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It mates up to a 9-speed automatic, and a standard all-wheel-drive system sends power to all four wheels.

The mild-hybrid offering improves the start-stop system of the turbo-4 in an attempt to enhance efficiency. It results in more power (286 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque), but there’s no measurable fuel economy benefit over the base engine. Like the standard turbo-4, the mild-hybrid is rated at 19 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined.

Automatic emergency braking comes standard. Optional equipment includes adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system. Higher trims come with some of these features at no charge.

The IIHS and NHTSA have not crash-tested the Discovery Sport.

Model Lineup

All pricing includes a $995 destination charge.

The base Discovery Sport ($38,795) comes with all-wheel drive, leather upholstery, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, and a 10-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth.

The S trim ($42,495) includes 12-way power front seats, satellite navigation with traffic updates, power-folding mirrors, leather upholstery, and traffic sign recognition.

An R-Dynamic S ($44,095) is similarly equipped to the regular S but adds the R-Dynamic exterior touches, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and gearshift paddles. It also gets Land Rover’s low-speed cruise control for off-roading, known as All-Terrain Progress Control.

From there, the SE model ($45,595) adds 19-inch wheels, a fully digital 12.3-inch driver information display, blind-spot monitors, a power tailgate, and automatic headlight leveling.

Compared to the regular SE, the R-Dynamic SE ($47,145) piles on 19-inch wheels and premium headlights. It also gets all the R-Dynamic standard equipment.

The R-Dynamic HSE ($53,795) sits at the top of the Discovery Sport range. It boasts the mild-hybrid engine, 20-inch wheels, 14-way seats with red stitching, a rear mirror camera, a Meridian audio system, and all the active safety features available.

Exterior

The Discovery Sport is intended to be Land Rover’s volume product, so the design team has brought a bit of urban elegance to a famously blocky product. We think the decision was a good one: unlike the LR2 that preceded it, the Discovery Sport has a look that comes off as pleasantly upscale but without any sacrifice of traditional design cues.

The net result is more Range Rover than anything else. The edges have all been smoothed out and there’s shades of the fashionable Evoque in the front fascia. The rear end emphasizes the height of the Discovery Sport rather than its width, a treatment that’s not unlike Land Rovers of the past.

R-Dynamic models add a bit of cool factor to all this with a sportier-looking front bumper and side sills, as well as body-colored trim around the wheel wells. It’s not a bad look, but the standard model does a fine job on its own of conveying the intentions of this SUV.

Interior

Simplicity is the keynote of the Discovery Sport’s interior. The layout is slick, understated, and tech-heavy. Depending on their personality, shoppers might be smitten or disappointed.

Looks aside, the materials are mostly high-quality throughout, though some hard plastics are scattered throughout. The tall roof and big windows provide good sightlines all the way around.

Fabric seats with manual adjustment are found on the base model, but power-adjustable chairs with leather upholstery are standard equipment on S trims and higher. They’re a little on the flat side, and might be a touch firm for some, but they’re overall fairly comfortable and supportive. More sustainable material choices are also available this year, such as eucalyptus upholstery.

The Discovery Sport sizes up with the likes of the Acura RDX and Audi Q5, but unlike those competitors the Land Rover offers a third row. Unfortunately, it’s rather useless; in an SUV this size, there’s just not enough room to give that wayback seat the necessary leg room the human figure requires. Even children won’t be comfortable back there.

The best bet is to instead maximize cargo capacity by skipping the third row. There’s 34.6 cubic feet behind the second row, which expands to 62.8 cubes when the back seat is folded down. Get the third row and there’s just 6.8 cubic feet available when all the rows are in their upright positions.

New for 2020 is a standard 10-inch touchscreen, which includes navigation in all but the base model. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on R-Dynamic models, but remains optional on the regular models.

Driving Impressions

The Discovery Sport is a compact but tall crossover. That doesn’t usually bode well for driving dynamics, but this baby Land Rover does a good job planting itself through corners. There’s no tipsy sensation even if you try to hustle it through some corners.

We’d nonetheless still refrain from such behavior, though, as sportiness is not a language spoken by this Land Rover. On-road manners are always pleasant, but they don’t ever encourage spirited driving. There’s plenty of other crossovers tailored towards cornering thrills.

Where the Discovery Sport performs better than most happens off the pavement. For 2020 there’s additional standard off-roading equipment, such as multiple terrain modes for different conditions like mud, snow, and sand. It won’t keep up with a Wrangler on Moab, but the Discovery Sport is more capable than most competitors in its class.

All Discovery Sports get some form of a 2.0-liter turbo-4. It makes 246 horsepower in most trims, which is enough to shuffle around this SUV with adequate haste. It never feels fast, though.

The HSE trim gets an exclusive mild-hybrid version of the base turbo-4. With its enhanced start-stop system and 48-volt powertrain, the idea is better fuel economy. That isn’t the case, though; the EPA rates it the same as it does the standard turbo-4. Neither model does better than 19 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined, which is on the low end for compact crossovers and SUVs.

Final Word

The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a good crossover vehicle with SUV talents off road. The spacious interior, available third row, and off-road chops would be better if they came with standard active-safety features. Stick with the S or SE trims for their extra equipment and reasonable sticker prices.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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