2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport Four Seasons Update – Desert Playtime

Thanks for the spare

Long-Term 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport Update: Fall 2016 ( 4 of 5 ) Miles to date: 17,000

GERLACH, Nevada—For four of the past five Julys, I’ve made the roughly 10-hour trek from Los Angeles to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for a few days of dirt biking, shooting (not at the same time), and a little four-wheelin’. Best known as the home of Burning Man, Black Rock is a beautifully desolate location that offers a unique mix of terrain and climate that will test and please any adventure-minded individual. This year, I made the trek in our long-term 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport, because what is more appropriate for such a venue than a Land Rover?

At Black Rock’s core is the almost-perfectly flat silt playa that, when dry, is as suitable for top-speed shenanigans as the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was on this playa back in 1997 that Andy Green went supersonic in the Thrust SSC. The dry playa is accessible by any vehicle, so the Disco Sport wasn’t going to have any problems getting on. However, wet areas that form due to the nearby Quinn River or the rare freak storm can easily catch-out even the most capable of 4x4s.

One of those wet areas is how the Disco ended up playing the role of recovery vehicle. While en route to a more photogenic part of the playa than our camping spot to get the photos you see here, the driver of the photo truck—a lifted and heavily modified Cummins-powered Ram 2500 on large knobby tires—underestimated the moisture level of the northern edge. In wet playa sand, the only thing your tire size determines is how many rotations the wheel will make before the tire is coated and you’re not moving anywhere.

I was able to navigate the much-lighter Land Rover to a nearby dry spot, and fortunately, the Ram featured a winch. Unlike larger vehicles, the compact Disco SUV has just one tow point, a detachable hook that attaches to the rear bumper. The setup is not optimal, but sufficient to hook a winch to. I was somewhat surprised the Disco didn’t budge at all while the Ram winched free. We wouldn’t use the unibody Land Rover for more serious recoveries that could require jerking motions, such as freeing a high-centered SUV, but it makes a fine winch anchor. Had the truck been a Jeep, our Discovery Sport would be justified in sporting a “Jeep Recovery Vehicle” sticker.

A bigger misadventure awaited me on the way out. Instead of taking the playa out to the paved road, I decided to take a nearby gravel road as a shortcut. Problem was, I failed to consider the Disco’s road-oriented tires. One of them picked up a rock the wrong way and suffered a critical failure. Flats suck, even in the best of times, but this was a Sunday afternoon and I was almost 100 miles away from civilization—and 600 miles away from home.

Fortunately, Land Rover fits the Discovery Sport with a spare instead of runflats. Granted, it’s a donut, but it still saved me from spending the afternoon in the hot desert sun waiting for AAA and then having to spend a night in Fernley. Limping from northwest Nevada to Southern California was not a fun experience, but the quiet cabin, cooled seats, turbocharged engine (most of the route is at a mile-high elevation or more), and a smartphone full of podcasts made it as painless as possible.

The next morning, I paid a visit to the local Firestone center and received confirmation that the rear right tire suffered a fatal wound. The Disco, otherwise no worse for the wear, would spend another night limping while a replacement Pirelli Scorpion Verde arrived, setting us back $275 for the tire and installation. After a thorough detail to purge it of the all-consuming playa dust, the Discovery Sport rejoined the fleet as good as new, while I rejoined the office convinced that it’s deserving of the Land Rover name.


  • Body style 4-door front-engine all-wheel-drive SUV
  • Accommodation 7-passenger
  • Construction N/A
  • Base price (with dest.) $46,950
  • As tested $51,318


  • Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
  • Displacement 2.0 liters (122 cu in)
  • Power 240 hp @ 5,800 rpm
  • Torque 251 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
  • Transmission 9-speed automatic
  • Drive All-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 20/26/22 (city/hwy/combined)


  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.4 turns
  • Turning circle 38.1 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/Discs
  • Wheels 19-inch aluminum
  • Tires Continental CrossContact LX Sport
  • Tire size 235R-19/255R-19 105V XL


  • Headroom 38.0 in
  • Legroom 42.7 in
  • Shoulder room 49.8 in
  • Wheelbase 107.9 in
  • Track F/R 63.8/64.2 in
  • L x W x H 180.7 x 81.5 x 67.9 in
  • Cargo capacity 32.7 cu ft/ 66.9 in (seats up/down)
  • Weight 3,957 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R N/A
  • Fuel capacity 18.5 gal
  • Est. fuel range 481 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium)


  • standard equipment

    • Xenon headlights
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • Rear-view camera
    • Dual-zone automatic climate control
    • Configurable ambient interior lighting
    • Keyless entry
    • Fixed panoramic sunroof
    • Powered tailgate
    • 19-inch alloy wheels
    • Touchscreen infotainment
    • SiriusXM radio
    • Bluetooth phone and audio, USB connectivity
    • Windsor leather seats
    • Terrain response system (general/snow/mud/sand)
    • Hill-start assist
    • Hill-descent control
    • Stop-start
    • Push-button start


  • options for this vehicle:

    • Climate comfort package — $1600
    • Heated front/rear seats, steering wheel, windshield; Climate front seats
    • Driver Assist Plus pack — $800
    • Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition; Navigation
    • 19-inch Black Design package —- $900
    • Contrast black roof – Gloss black on front and rear badging; Black grill side mirrors, vents; 19 inch 5-spoke black alloy wheels
    • Adaptive Xenon Headlights w/ LED signature —- $300
    • Automatic High Beam Assist — $250
    • Corris Gray paint — $0
    • Discovery Sport Protection Pack — $418