Almost as impressive on-road as it is in the wilds - but it's thirsty and takes a while to get going
You can see for miles and it feels properly luxurious
This Land Rover's got the lot, from as many as to eight airbags to Hill Descent Control
Land Rovers have been prone to breakdowns in the past but we're keeping our fingers crossed
Seven grown-ups can spread themselves - and their kit - out in comfort and it's very versatile
It's billed as a luxury car and the equipment list doesn't disappoint: there's even a picnic table!
Up hill, down dale, or simply trundling to the local shops, the Land Rover Discovery is incredibly capable in every situation. It's stable and refined on the motorway, corners without rolling too much (especially given its size) and it rides with the sort of smoothness that most luxury limousines would kill for. It's also fairly easy to manoeuvre for such an enormous car. Plus, if you ever plan to venture into the countryside, no seven-seat 4x4 will take you further. You might have to crack the whip to get the car rolling initially, but once you're cruising, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine feels impressively punchy and smooth. It works like a dream with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, too, which is also deliciously smooth.
The high driver's seat means you can see for miles and there's lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, meaning drivers of all shapes and sizes can get themselves comfortable. The touch-screen infotainment system could be clear, but the rest of the dash controls are chunky and easy to hit at a glance. The seven-seat cabin has acres of space inside, and the clever seating arrangement means everyone gets a good view out. The three full-size seats in the middle row also make it possible to fit three child seats in, depending on their size. The boot is massive in five-seat mode, and even when all seven chairs are in place, there's enough space for a pushchair, and a slot in which to stow the now-redundant parcel shelf. If you're moving house, you can fold the second and third row of seats flat (with some effort) to make a gigantic boot. The split tailgate doubles as a picnic table or viewing platform: perfect for dining al fresco while you're on safari (or changing nappies when you're out and about). Basic models have climate control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, electric windows and keyless entry, but XS trim adds a range of extra goodies including cruise control, sat-nav, touch-screen iPod connectivity and heated seats.
Land Rover's reliability record is patchy to say the least, and current owners rated the Discovery's reliability as 'below average' in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey. Safety and security kit is excellent, though: as well as front and side airbags, there are curtain airbags to protect those in all three rows. Whether you're on Tarmac or turf, there's masses of technology to keep you safe, including traction and stability control, four-wheel-drive and Hill Descent Control. Despite its size and solid appearance, however, the Discovery only scored four stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. That means it won't protect you quite as well as a Volvo XC90 will.
The Discovery is not cheap to buy or run, but it's desirable, so will hold its value well. If you need seven seats and you regularly plan to tow or go off-road, then there's simply nothing better.