Land Rover’s Discovery Sport premium compact SUV gets a substantial makeover for 2020. Signature exterior features including a clamshell hood, rising beltline, and tapered roof go untouched, but the grille, LED lights, and both bumpers are new.
A new frame makes the 2020 Discovery Sport 13-percent stiffer than the previous version, resulting in a smoother ride and quieter cabin. ClearSight camera systems providing 180-degree front and rear views are available, and there’s a sustainable interior option of non-leather Luxtex material made of a recycled polyester microfiber.
Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is now standard, and it includes a 10-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, wireless charging, and 4G Wi-Fi hotspots.
A new 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) powertrain is available, producing 286 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine’s output is increased to 246 horsepower.
There are six 2020 Discovery Sport trim levels: base, S, R-Dynamic S, SE, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE. Pricing with a $995 destination charge starts at $38,795. The R-Dynamic models add sportier appearance characteristics and other upgrades, and the HSE trim has the MHEV powertrain.
I drove the R-Dynamic SE model, priced at $47,145 with destination included.
The turbo engine and its running mate, a nine-speed automatic transmission, provide adequate power, but fuel economy isn’t great: 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Performance-wise, Discovery Sport’s expertise is off-road ability, the Land Rover heritage.
The Discovery Sport has seating for five with the option of a third row providing two more seating positions. In five-passenger layout, there’s lots of room for everyone, even second-row passengers, and the second row seats slide and recline. Head room is exceedingly generous. The rear cargo area is big and wide, and has a broad opening that enables large items to be carried. The floor is flat, and nearly even with the rear bumper so items can be easily slid in or out.
In typical Land Rover fashion, the Discovery Sport’s interior design is high-class and replete with quality materials. The infotainment system isn’t difficult to comprehend, but the touchscreen is too picky about the amount of pressure it’s willing to respond to, often requiring two or three presses before it reacts. The screen is also a longer reach for the driver than with most other compact SUVs.
The gearshift lever seemed to have a similar affliction and didn’t always readily go into, or stay in, the driver’s intended gear. It didn’t pop out of gear on the fly, mind you. The behavior occurred only with the vehicle at a standstill, as when shifting into Drive or Reverse.
To be fair, I’ve been disoriented and distracted like everyone else isolating themselves and their families to stop the spread of COVID-19, and that probably contributed to the unfortunate gearshift episodes. On the other hand, for seasoned drivers, gear shifting is intuitive, automatic. And so the Discovery Sport has to accept at least some of the blame.
2020 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT R-DYNAMIC SE
Base price, including destination charge: $47,145
Price as driven: $54,035
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.