The idea of "rugged luxury" seems like a contradiction in terms...but it's not. Proof positive of that is the 2019 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury. It's a very rugged, extremely capable SUV that can go pretty much anywhere you don't need an airplane or boat to get to, but it's quiet, refined and exceptionally well-built.
That has been Land Rover's stock in trade here in America for decades now. Globally, they're the gold standard of off-road machines---among only two or three things you'll see in the fleet of safari companies in Africa and South America and the ride of choice for Saharan expeditions.
Land Rover wisely decided 30 or so years back that, as long as it didn't interfere with their vehicles' sheer brilliance at taming roads and places where there are no roads, they could also make the ride a pleasure---allow you to conquer the globe while sitting in the lap of luxury.
The Discovery is the middle-sized member of the Land Rover family (Evoque, Discovery, Velar, Range Rover), and the one with the lowest price of entry, at $52,300. If that price surprises you, it should---it's only about five grand more than a loaded minivan.
For that money, you get no frills, but the integrity and basic quality of the Land Rover Discovery is baked in.
Unless you choose the diesel, under the hood of every 2019 Land Rover Discovery is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that makes 335 horsepower with 332 pounds per foot of torque. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the EPA says the Discovery can expect 16 miles per gallon in the city, 21 on the highway. For the size and weight (4,751 pounds), that's pretty good fuel economy.
Our test vehicle was the HSE Luxury, the top-of-the line, above the base SE, the Landmark and the HSE. Base price for the HSE Luxury is $67,200---an almost $15,000 jump from the SE, but the standard equipment list is impressive. Here's what you get when you choose the HSE Luxury:
- 20-inch 10-split spoke style wheels.
- Ten-inch Pro navigation system with Pro Services and wi-fi hotspot.
- LED signature headlights with automatic high-beam assist.
- Windsor leather seats.
- An 825-watt, 16-speaker plus subwoofer Meridian audio system.
- Configurable ambient lighting.
- Heated front and rear seats.
- Seating for seven instead of five.
- Remote intelligent folding seats.
- Twin-speed transfer box.
- Electronic air suspension.
- Front fog lights.
- Cold climate package.
- Power sunroof with fixed panel over rear seats.
- Powered gesture tailgate.
- Electrically adjustable steering column.
- Three-zone climate control.
- SiriusXM Satellite Radio and HDRadio.
- An interactive driver display.
- Traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter.
And our tester also had some extra-cost options:
- Driver Assist Pack (Adaptive cruise control with steering assist and a 360-degree camera): $2,900.
- Seven-seat Luxury Climate Comfort Package (Heated and ventilated front and rear seats, an upgrade to four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and leather seats with massage and river memory): $1,995.
- Capability Plus Package (Terrain Response 2, All-terrain Progress Control, active rear locking differential): $1,275.
- Upgraded 21-inch nine-spoke wheels with diamond turned finish: $1,735.
- Carpathian Grey premium metallic paint: $1,525.
- Head-up display: $970.
- Roof rails: $410.
- Advanced tow assist: $410.
- Activity key: $410.
- Heated windshield: $285.
With $1,025 destination and delivery charge, the bottom line on the window sticker read $79,730.
Now, that last number may have produced an "ouch"---but the Discovery really only has one direct competitor---the Lexus GX460---and it'll cost you about the same, comparably equipped.
In 22 years of reviewing cars, I've driven more than a few machines that cost north of 75 grand that only did one thing well, if that. The 2019 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury is a brilliant luxury vehicle and one of the best off-roaders on the planet. It's the best of both worlds.