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A moment in automotive history: The Land Rover Discovery through the years

The Land Rover Discovery is still a relatively new model in the grand scheme of vehicles. If you were to pinch back a digital map of the history of automotive brands and get a bird's eye view of all of the launches that have stood the test of time, you'd spot Land Rover Discovery making its debut in 1989.


A lot has happened in its three-plus decades run. 


Today, the Discovery, which is not in its third generation, continues to be one of Land Rover's most requested models, and rightfully so. This midsize luxury SUV is versatile, moving as confidently through urban streets as it does rural environments thanks to its go-anywhere attitude. Plus, its well-equipped cabin can transport seven people making it a fan favourite for moving groups and families. 


Land Rover Discovery First Generation

News of the Land Rover Discovery hit the newswire in 1989 and the first generation vehicle was released to market in 1990. It was met with immediate enthusiasm. It was the British automaker's way of offering an SUV that was more affordable than the signature Land Rover but with more creature comforts than the Defender. 


The Discovery Series I, which was offered from 1989 to 1998, had a distinguished silhouette that was rugged yet refined. It even snagged a British Design Award during its first year in 1989. It felt good to drive, too. The Defender was a smooth ride thanks to a comfortable suspension with live axles and coil-springs in all corners and there were two engine options including the 3.5-liter V-8 and a 2.5-liter turbo-diesel. Interestingly it was only available as a 3-door model at first, and the 5-door model became available in 1990. In 1998, the Discovery Series II was released as an evolution of its predecessor, which included a number of differences, most notably an extended rear. The Series II was manufactured until 2004.


Land Rover Discovery Second Generation

The second gen Discovery was marked by the Discovery 3 (2004-2009) and the Discovery 4 (2009-2016), which were notably less boxy than the previous gen. The Discovery was quickly becoming known as a premium 4x4 vehicle that could master off-road terrain all while remaining deeply comfortable. It's this consistent balance of grit and glam that continued to solidify a cult following for the Discovery.


After Land Rover and Ford split in 2008, fresh life was breathed into the brand and you can see it in the release of the Discover 4 the following year in 2009. There were notable improvements, including the instrument cluster, which swapped the then dated gauges and dials for a modern 5" digital screen. Other small yet impactful improvements were made, including cup holders being moved to a more convenient location, LEDs added to the interior for a playful illumination and improvements to the driver's seat positioning.


Land Rover Discovery Third Generation

The third gen Discover (2017 to present) has of course seen changes since its initial release, but its ethos have remained the same. In 2017 the 5-door SUV had an 8-speed automatic transmission and was available in both gas and diesel engine options, including a 2.0L gas engine, 3.0L supercharged gas engine and 2.0L turbo diesel, and 3.0L turbo diesel. It continued to entice customers globally. 


The design evolved yet again, too, becoming more aerodynamic, shedding some of the previous boxy elements. The seven-seater layout remained, of course, with space for more than half a dozen adults. Inspiration was taken from the 'J' in JLR, too, including a new and improved infotainment system with an all-new dual-screen.

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