Wednesday, August 2, 2017



A recently released list of the world’s Top 100 most valuable brands from BrandZ, an international firm that complies such lists from a database of information, contains the usual automotive suspects.

Toyota checks in at No. 30, BMW at 35, Mercedes-Benz at 40, Ford at 83, and Honda at 91 on the ranking of most valuable global brands.

Not making the Top 100 overall companies but checking in at spots 6-8 on a side list of the Top 10 automotive brands are Nissan, Audi, and Tesla.

No real surprises there. 

But No. 9 among automotive brands might catch you off guard.

Remember, we’re talking globally here, and Land Rover checks in at No. 9 just ahead of No. 10 Porsche in the listing of the Top 10 most valuable automotive brands.

Yes, Land Rover may rank only 27th overall in U.S. sales with less than half a percent market share, but thinking globally, the famed British marque has been on a rise since the Indian conglomerate Tata purchased it and Jaguar from Ford in 2008. According to BrandZ, Land Rover has a net worth of $5.534 billion.

That’s a 17 percent jump over 2016 and places it right between Tesla ($5.876 billion) and Porsche ($5.141 billion). Land Rover actually was one of only three automotive brands that saw an increase in value over the past year, the others being Mercedes-Benz (4 percent) and Porsche (16 percent). (Ford remained the same.)

You don’t do that unless you are doing something right.

Actually, a lot of things right, and that includes sprucing up the product line. In recent years, it introduced a more performance-driven SUV with the Range Rover Sport and a more urban-oriented vehicle in the Range Rover Evoque. It even came out with a convertible version of the Evoque for 2016.

That refining process continues with the Land Rover Discovery.

Possibly not as familiar to the casual shopper as the Range Rover or Evoque, the Discovery gets its name back as it enters its fifth generation. Over the last 12 years it carried first the LR3 badge, then LR4 in the U.S. Land Rover claimed the name change was due to the “negative” association shoppers had with the Discovery label, but I think it was done by the same people who like to tinker with website designs. A curse on them!

For 2017, the Discovery has been redesigned inside and out, with the exterior getting more rounded lines to alleviate the Land Rover’s usual boxiness, which givesthe rear end a somewhat bulbous butt, and the interior coddling up to seven passengers with lots of room and soft, high quality materials.

It comes in three trims — base SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury — with a fourth, Launch Edition, offered in a limited production run of 500 vehicles so you probably can’t find one now. A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is standard, though diesel models also are offered on the two higher trims.

The V6 provides plenty of punch with 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission resulting in fuel figures of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 21 highway, and 18 combined. Four-wheel drive is standard on all models.

The Discovery may be a beast, but with the transmission set in Sport mode, it is an agile one. And it has plenty of muscle with a towing capacity of just over 8,200 pounds.

Of course, being a Land Rover, it also has exceptional off-road capability, which being in South Florida and its flat terrain, I did not get an opportunity to test out. Alas. Couldn’t really challenge it on any curvy road either.

I spent the week in the top-of-the-line HSE Luxury model, which has a third-row as standard as well as air-suspension that allows you to lower the vehicle for easier in-and-out as well as for cargo loading. The back- and second-row seats lower and raise at the push of a button just to the inside of the rear and can be configured in up to four different ways.

Standard equipment on the HSE Luxury includes (but is not limited to) a gesture-operated tailgate (a wave of the foot at the corner of the rear bumper opens and closes it), electronic air suspension, 16-way power adjustable driver and front-passenger seats, three-zone climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, beaucoup Bluetooth and USB connectivity (up to nine USB charging points when the rear-seat entertainment package is included), front and rear parking aids, rear-view camera, and LED automatic headlights and fog lights.

That all is included in the base MSRP of $63,950.

The vehicle I had also included optional packages that included adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot warning, reverse traffic detection, chrome paddle shifters, towing package, a Dynamic body kit, brushed aluminum console, Terrain Response 2 with settings for automatic, grass/gravel/snow, mud ruts, sand, and rock crawl, upgraded Windsor leather seats, 21-inch wheels, rear-seat entertainment system, a head-up display,  roof rails, and a 360-degree camera.

All that plus the $995 destination and delivery charge ran the total MSRP to $82,300. The base SE starts at $50,985, the gas HSE at $57,945 (including destination and delivery).

What I liked about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery: It’s a big vehicle (nearly 196 inches long and just under 79 inches wide), which means you have to be aware of its size when in tight places, but it doesn’t particularly drive like one. It is smooth and quiet on the highway with little-to-no road or wind noise.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery: It’s packed with a lot of technology, but isn’t very intuitive to operate. I get that the idea of “pinching” the touchscreen is the new way to adjust scale for the navigation system, but I’m just as content tapping the plus or minus sign on the screen. My main peccadillo would be the lack of storage space when the third row is upright. It’s only 9.1 cubic feet. With the third-row seats folded, it jumps to 45 feet, then to 82.7 to 85 with the second-row down.

Would I buy the 2017 Land Rover Discovery? I have no need for a vehicle of this size or off-road capability, but that shouldn’t hold you back if that’s what you want/need. I think sometimes reviewers tend to be overly critical of the Land Rover, but I find it to be an interesting combination of luxury and functionality in the SUV world.

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