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2021 Land Rover Discovery debuts with new turbo inline-six and big tech improvements

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery is here, and it looks a whole lot like the 2020 Discovery on the outside. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll quickly discover (see what we did there?) the updates Land Rover gave its three-row SUV for the model’s mid-cycle refresh.

For starters, we gain two new engines and lose the diesel. Yes, we’re sad, too. But Land Rover told us that U.S. demand for the diesel “has been on a steady decline,” so it’s dropped the engine as an option. A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 was the standard engine before, but Land Rover is introducing a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for the base Discovery now. It makes 296 horsepower. If you want more, the new upgrade engine is Land Rover’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. This incorporates mild-hybrid technology and produces 355 horsepower, a 15-horse increase over the supercharged V6. It’ll likely be smoother in operation and more efficient than the old V6, too. There’s still no word on a rumored plug-in hybrid variant.

As for design changes, the Discovery gets new LED running lights along with new taillights connected to each other with a black panel to create the effect of increased width. Revised bumpers feature more paint in body color, and the front bumper has new air intake strakes for a sportier appearance. The grille is also changed and meant to resemble that of the Discovery Sport so as to show the family resemblance. A new fender vent design is done in body color. Plus, Land Rover has a number of new wheel designs to choose from.

Most dramatic of all is the new R-Dynamic trim. It essentially consists of glossy black trim bits throughout the exterior for a more sporting character. On the inside, you get two-tone leather and contrast seat stitching. Land Rover already thinks it’s going to be the best-selling trim in the lineup. Most of the photos you see here (the bronze car) are of the R-Dynamic trim.

The interior is where Land Rover has spent most of its time and effort for improvement. A totally new 11.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system (named Pivi Pro) is sitting in the redesigned center stack. The wide, horizontal screen is replaced by this taller one running a completely new and different infotainment system. It’s just like what we’ve seen on the updated Jaguar F-Pace and E-Pace, and it looks like it has potential to be a huge improvement. Land Rover makes claims of “immediate responses” and “logical menus,” so our hopes are high. And even if there are issues, Land Rover says this new infotainment can be updated via over-the-air updates — no need for a dealer visit.

The whole climate control (with more advanced cabin air ionization) section of the dash was also redesigned to fit below the big screen. A new, physical gear lever looks promising, as Land Rover does away with the rotary twist dial shifter that rises and falls into the console. Plus, it gets a new steering wheel with light-up buttons and metal gearshift paddles. In front of the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s updated with more functionality. And then if you check the option box, a color head-up display can be added.

Those in the back seats were not forgotten. Land Rover says it redesigned the second row with longer and thicker cushions for greater thigh support. The air vents were moved to the rear of the center console for better airflow. Tablet holders were added to the back of the front seats, and new USB charging sockets were added here to keep wires tidy.

Expect nearly identical performance when it comes to off-road capability. Land Rover has added a “Wade Mode” to the drive mode selector to optimize the vehicle for water fording. It also features Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View camera tech, but that’s about it for the off-road nerds.

Pricing starts above the 2020 Discovery, which is a bit disappointing considering that the new four-cylinder is significantly down on power versus the supercharged V6. It starts at $55,250 (a $1,600 increase), including the $1,350 destination charge. If you want the R-Dynamic trim with the four-cylinder, you’re looking at another $2,500. The cheapest inline-six is $63,250, while the highest HSE R-Dynamic trim starts at $70,250. Refreshed Discovery models should be headed to dealers soon, and you can build one on Land Rover’s configure tool now.

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