Let’s Go Disco
By Greg Riley
August 17, 2019
From Disco Inferno, with apologies to The Trammps…
To my surprise, one hundred stories high
People getting loose y'all, getting down on the roof
Folks are screaming, out of control
It was so entertaining when the boogie started to explode
I heard somebody say
(Burn baby burn) burn that mother down
(Burn baby burn) disco inferno
(Burn baby burn) burn that mother down
The lyrics from Disco Inferno sum up my wife’s response to the 2019 Land Rover Discovery. She has many friends in England who know I review cars, and they kept asking her when I’d get around to the Discovery.
She recently accompanied me to an off-road invitation event where I scored her an exciting off-the-pavement ride in a Loire Blue Discovery with the Land Rover peeps. And yep, this Texas good ‘ol boy had to Google “Loire.” It is pronounced Lu-Wah Blue as an homage to the Loire Valley in France. Now I got something to say to impress my friend with down to Haynie’s Cafe.
I frequently misspeak and confuse Land Rover, and Range Rover, so perhaps a quick history lesson and some clarification is in order. The name Land Rover came into being in 1948 when Rover Cars Ltd. began producing what would become one of the most iconic 4wd vehicle of all the time; the Land Rover. In terms of 4wd recognition and reverence Land Rovers, or only eclipsed by Jeep. Land Rover became a separate brand in 1978. The Range Rover was launched in 1978 as the top of the line full-size model. Land Rover is the brand, Discovery, and Range Rover are models.
As with many American’s I first became acquainted with the Land Rover due to its ubiquitous use in the CBS Television drama series Daktari which aired between 1966 and 1969 (I was four when it premiered.) The TV series was sent in the fictional Wameru Study Centre for Animal Behavior in East Africa. Land Rovers and Clarence the cross-eyed lion seemed to be in every scene.
In the late 1970’s the first one I saw in person appeared at a mechanic friend’s shop where he swapped the original wheezy 62hp diesel I4 for “more powerful” Chevy inline six, which today seems almost comical but at the time was a popular swap.
At the off-road event my bride Ronnie told the Land Rover PR team how taken she was with the Discovery, and how much she wished we’d get one as a press loan. Typically, Ronnie looks at whatever press-fleet vehicle I have in the driveway on a given week, and suppresses a yawn, and basically says, “that’s nice dear.” The Disco as it is affectionally called is the first vehicle I recall her expressing real enthusiasm for.
Later that afternoon we again encountered the Land Rover team at Bucee’s (another Texas institution) where they were loading up on fudge and jerky. She made sure to once again mention how much she hoped we’d be loaned one for testing. Ironically, we had just met another friend for coffee the same day with a several model-years old Discovery. He and Ronnie discussed their passion for the Disco over java, and I barely got a word in.
A couple of weeks later the phone rang at GarageDlx Studios and I was asked if I’d be interested in driving the 2019 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury for a week. Ronnie was in the room and she was practically bouncing in excitement. A few days later the same Lu-wah blue Disco was delivered to our establishment totally devoid of its mud paintjob as we had last seen it a couple of weeks before.
The first big surprise was the power plant. At the off-road event Ronnie rode shotgun, with me and one of the other PR Reps in the rear. It was so smooth and refined I had no idea it was diesel powered. It’s a wonderful 3.0-liter turbodiesel of 254hp and 443lb ft of torque capable of moving the Disco smartly indeed. This smooth little diesel is mated to an 8-speed automatic, and a version upgraded for light-truck duty use is also used in Ford’s F150.
The diesel gets a combined MPG of 23 (21 city mpg, 26 highway mpg.) This is particularly impressive when you realize the Disco is a pretty heavy hunk of machinery at 4,750lbs, over 1,000 lbs. heftier than the Riley family Dodge Durango. There is also a gasoline powered V6 of 340hp, and 323lb ft of torque which gets a claimed 18mpg combined (16city mpg, 21 highway mpg) The diesel can tow 7,716 lbs. vs the gas version’s 8,201 lbs.
I haven’t driven the gasoline version, so it would be a tough call which I’d opt for. The diesel has the mpg edge but loses something on the towing front. The diesel is more expensive to purchase, diesel fuel is more expensive, but you get better mpg. I’d have to do some total cost of ownership calculations if I was purchasing.
The Discovery is a great-looking vehicle that draws lots of appreciative looks. I’m not sure you’d get that same reaction in a new Escalade of Navigator if you care about such things. I can only describe the interior as sumptuous, and my bride wholeheartedly concurs. All the controls are legible, easy to learn, and intuitive to use. The seating position is commanding and the Disco drives like a much smaller vehicle on the twisty roads near here.
The test vehicle was equipped with an 825-watt Meridian sound system that delivers near concert-hall tunes. As is typical with press vehicles the version we tested was ladled with options totaling almost $10,000. At that bring me to the painful part of the test…pricing.
The base price as tested for the Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury was $68,800, but by the time we got to the bottom right of the window sticker, it had risen to $80.915 which is a lot of money by any measure. However, to put it in context I did a quick scan of a local Cadillac dealer for Escalades which stickered from $80,500 to $101,045. The Escalade and other competitors are nice vehicles, but none pushed my bride’s buttons like the Disco, and you can’t put a price on an endorsement by Mama Riley.
Up above my head
I hear music in the air
That makes me know
There's a party somewhere
Disco Inferno by The Trammps 1976-Copywrite Rhino Atlantic