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One Week With: 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport Review

We drive a R-Dynamic SE model and find plenty to like.

Rory JurneckaWriter, Photographer

Coinciding with the launch of the all-new Range Rover Evoque compact premium SUV, which we drove last year, Land Rover also has an updated 2020 Discovery Sport. Based on the same Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA) as the Evoque, the Discovery Sport is Land Rover's smallest and least expensive offering. Where the Evoque aims to be a rakish commuter for those who have smaller families, the Discovery Sport at least attempts greater practicality with a more upright roofline that allows for an optional minuscule third row with twin seats. We recently spent a week in a top-trim Discovery Sport R-Dynamic SE to see if the improvements made in the Evoque have transferred to the Land Rover variant.

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport Design & Equipment

Although the styling of the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport isn't terribly different from the first-generation model, there are a few changes. Notably, the LED headlights and taillights are new, the front bumper has been restyled and the grille is also fresh. Our R-Dynamic SE variant, which starts at $47,145, or nearly $10,000 more than the base model, adds body-color lower cladding for a sportier look, an ebony headliner, R-Dynamic door sill plates, a leather-covered steering wheel with Atlas bezel, 12-way adjustable front leather seats with contrasting stitching, and power folding plus auto dimming side and interior mirrors. A power tailgate, two-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, rear fog lights and 19-inch wheels are also standard. SE trim also adds a full suite of safety tech, including blind spot monitoring, active pre-collision braking, traffic sign recognition and a rear back-up camera.

Our Discovery Sport R-Dynamic SE was equipped the base-level 246-hp, 269-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine (P250 in Land Rover speak), but several at-cost options. These included $610 Firenze Red paint, a $400 Black Contrast Roof, $1,280 Fixed Panoramic Roof, an $800 Meridian Surround Sound system, a $1,240 Dynamic Handling Pack with various configurable drive modes and red brake calipers, and a $980 Technology Package that adds a virtual rear view mirror, wireless device charging, and a heads-up display. That brings our total to $52,455 and doesn't include such niceties as heated seats or adaptive cruise control (those would have added another $500 and $1,200, respectively).

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport Interior

In this newest Discovery Sport, Land Rover has worked hard to add in extra refinement, comfort, and quietness compared to the previous version. True to its objective, the new Disco Sport's interior is a nicer place to be than in previous model years. Our top-spec Disco Sport delivered lots of soft-touch surfaces, high-quality leather, and seats that didn't disappoint even after several hours behind the wheel. Noise, vibration, and harshness-commonly referred to in the industry as NVH-are noticeably improved over old Discovery Sport models though the ride still isn't as plush as something like a Mercedes GLC in its Comfort setting. Nevertheless, the cabin is much quieter at speed and while there's not really any noticeable second-row passenger space improvement over the previous Discovery, full-grown adults will do fine there, especially for shorter cross-town jaunts.

Other improvements to the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport come in different forms. We like the switch to a conventional gear lever as opposed to the old rotary dial, and wireless device charging means you won't have to keep a USB cable semi-permanently draped over the center console, with a compatible phone. That's not to say there aren't USB ports aplenty (there are six total, by our count). The digital display on the center stack looks sharp, with crisp graphics and a visually, if not functionally appealing look and the instrument panel is all-digital too, which allows for data to be displayed in various configurations by using steering-wheel-mounted controls. Jaguar Land Rover's navigation systems have traditionally been weak points (for example, navigating us in circles on a recent Jaguar F-Type launch program), so we opted to use Apple CarPlay for our get-around-town needs, which worked seamlessly.

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport Engine & Performance

On the road, the 246-hp turbo-four is quick enough that we doubt that many folks will feel the need to step up to the optional 286-hp version. The Discovery Sport's brakes are strong with good feel, and the steering, while on the heavy side even in its normal setting, feels nice through winding roads. Bump up the speed and the Discovery Sport still exhibits little body roll, perhaps the reward for its slightly firmer-than-average suspension.

Unfortunately, our tester suffered from some aggravating throttle tip-in behavior. Throttle travel to get the car rolling from a standstill seemed to vary for no reason, and the lag we experienced from our foot pressing the pedal to the Discovery Sport actually moving forward was sometimes excessive. The behavior seemed to worsen with auto start-stop engaged, requiring extra time for the engine to roughly re-fire, so we made a point of turning off stop-start after a time, something that we don't find we have to do often in today's cars. The end result of all this behavior is a bit of trepidation when merging onto busy streets and unintentional lurching getaways from traffic lights. Some Internet sleuthing reveals similar complaints from owners of other JLR models and suggestions that a reset of the vehicle's throttle programing can potentially help.

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Overall, many of our complaints about the Land Rover Discovery Sport of old have been resolved in this 2020 model. For a premium compact SUV, the Discovery Sport delivers superior cabin comfort, sporty yet rugged good looks, adequate interior space and plenty of amenities-if you're willing to pay for them.

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport R-Dynamic SE Quick Facts

  • Power: 246 hp
  • Torque: 269 lb-ft
  • Base Price: $47,145
  • Highway mpg: 24 mpg
  • Wireless phone charging
2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport R-Dynamic SE Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $47,145/$52,455 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/246 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 269 lb-ft @ 1,400-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 6-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 19/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 181.0 x 75.0 x 68.0 in
WHEELBASE 107.9 in
WEIGHT 4,210 lb
0-60 MPH 7.1 sec
TOP SPEED 135 mph
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