It’s a move from numbers to names – a re-branding strategy that sees British SUV-builder Land Rover return the Discovery name to its American lineup. The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is the replacement for last year’s LR2, but the entry-level people mover is also more than that: it provides increased passenger capacity, enhanced style, and new technology. It’s a smart play from a company that has scored several recent hits with redesigned takes on its fleet of luxury-laden sport-utility vehicles, and it’s one that aims to reposition the most affordable member of the Land Rover family as a legitimate competitor to crossover offerings from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport.
1) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Melds New And Familiar Design Cues
If you think that the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport looks more than a little bit like its similarly-compact Range Rover Evoque sibling, then you would be correct. While the Land Rover Discovery Sport moves away from the upright looks of the now-departed LR2, it doesn’t embody the style-first, cramped roofline of the Evoque so much as mimic it via a number of clever cues, including a semi-floating top that does tilt somewhat to the rear of the SUV. Up front, you get the clamshell hood that has become a Land Rover trademark, and written prominently across its front lip is DISCOVERY in place of the LAND ROVER that we have come to expect from the brand’s vehicles. Needless to say, LED lighting can be found all around with the new suv, with jeweled headlights in particular helping the Discovery Sport stand apart from its predecessor.
2) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Sticks With Four-Cylinder Power
While the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport’s metal-and-glass wrapper may have undergone considerable re-imagining, under the hood it’s a dead ringer for 2014’s entry-level LR2 model. This means that the Land Rover Discovery Sport comes with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is also offered in the Range Rover Evoque. The unit is tuned to provide 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, with all of the latter delivered well below 2,000 rpm in order to help the SUV feel lively when being launched from a stop (as well as help with its bulk at all speeds).
3) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Introduces An Advanced Transmission
Whereas the 2014 Land Rover LR2 had to make do with a passable, but unexceptional six-speed automatic gearbox, the transmission outfitted to the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport features nine forward speeds. With ratios that are closely-spaced together so as to provide a better balance between performance and efficiency, the Discovery Sport’s transmission also offers a second-gear-start system that further reduces fuel consumption in normal commuting (first gear remains accessible manually when maximum torque is needed). The nine-speed transmission additionally comes with an adaptive shifting algorithm that will hold gears longer during spirited driving, as well as the ability to skip from one gear to another without the need to move sequentially through each cog.
4) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Doesn’t Sacrifice Off-Road Capability
It’s clear that the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport isn’t aimed at dedicated trail warriors seeking to slog through the mud and the muck every weekend. That being said, the sophisticated all-wheel drive system that comes standard with the Land Rover Discovery Sport, in tandem with the brand’s Terrain Response system, gives the SUV respectable off-road chops. Terrain Response is able to map throttle, all-wheel drive, and transmission settings to best deal with whatever challenging surface that the driver might be facing, and the Discovery Sport’s 8.3-inchs of ground clearance and ability to climb a 45-degree grade give it a leg-up over other compact luxury vehicles in its class.
5) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Now Comes With Three Rows Of Seating
One of the biggest changes made to the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport as compared to last year’s LR2 is in the seating department, where the addition of a third row of accommodations has transformed the entry-level SUV into a seven-passenger vehicle. Dubbed ‘5+2’ seating by Land Rover, the Discovery Sport’s optional third row of accommodations sits behind the second row’s ‘stadium’ design (which offers a slightly taller mounting point than the front set of buckets to increase visibility and reduce claustrophobia on longer trips). Keep in mind that the final set of seats – which, like the second row, folds forward when not needed – is intended for occasional use, and bears a form factor that is more comfortable for children rather than full-size adults.
6) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Is Larger Inside And Out
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport has grown somewhat compared to the LR2 in order to accommodate not just additional passenger capacity but also to improve the comfort of those riding in each of its three available rows of seating. The Land Rover Discovery Sport sits on a stretched wheelbase that measures 107.9-inches, and those riding behind the driver and front passenger in the SUV enjoy nearly 40 inches of leg room – more than in the back of a typical full-size extended-cab pickup truck – thanks to the ability to slide the second row 6.3-inches backwards. Even with its larger interior and expanded footprint, the Discovery Sport maintains a modest overall length of just under 181-inches, which is within four inches of the LR2 it replaces.
7) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Interior Is Classy, But Practical
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is intended to introduce buyers to the brand, and as such it doesn’t come across quite as overwhelmingly posh as other vehicles in the Land Rover showroom. Still, there’s a good balance between utility and luxury inside the Land Rover Discovery Sport, with simple lines complemented by a nice mix of soft plastics, leather, and an available touchscreen infotainment system set into the SUV’s center stack. Technology plays more of a role in the Discovery Sport than it did in the LR2, with a renewed focus on integrating mobile devices and providing up-to-date features and software.
8) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Provides Numerous Personalization Options
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport might only be the starting point in the SUV-builder’s line-up, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a comprehensive list of options available to entice buyers to personalize their ride. Some of the more intriguing entries on the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s options list include several different roof colors (or even a full panoramic sunroof), seven different sets of rims, iPad holders that attach to the rear of the vehicle’s headrests, additional underbody shielding front and rear to complement the Discovery Sport’s standard skid plates, a center console that can both heat and cool food, and a towing package.
9) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Features Enhanced Safety Systems
Another area where the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport excels when compared against the template established by the 2014 LR2 is the availability of advanced safety equipment. The Land Rover Discovery Sport can be had with a lane departure warning system that helps to keep the SUV pointed in the right direction, as well as a system that can digitally capture passing road sign information and pass along speed limit information to the driver. The Discovery Sport also features the option of a forward collision mitigation system that automatically brakes the vehicle to a full stop should an impact been deemed unavoidable.
10) The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport Is Actually Affordable
The starting MSRP of the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is listed at $37,995, a surprising number that places it below rivals like the BMW X3 xDrive28i (MSRP $40,500), the Audi Q5 (MSRP $38,900), and the Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC (MSRP $39,900). The Land Rover Discovery Sport isn’t quite as sporty as the BMW X3, nor as plush as the GLK 350 4MATIC, but none of its competitors can claim the same mix of day-to-day practicality and incredible off-road capability – a selling point for both those seeking a lifestyle accessory as well as families more interested in portraying a rugged image than living one out.