2021 Land Rover Discovery gives iconic SUV a high-tech upgrade

Say hello to the 2021 Land Rover Discovery, with the iconic British SUV tightening up its styling, adding new tech, and getting more usable lifestyle features as it heads to US dealerships. Under the hood, there'll be a choice of two different engines – including a turbocharged mild-hybrid – while a new R-Dynamic styling package is expected to be the most popular trim.

At the front, there's now new Matrix LED headlamps, which get a revamped lower daytime running light (DRL) signature. It's intended, Land Rover says, to be readily recognized from at a distance, leaving no confusion as to what SUV you're driving. The grille in-between is more purposeful, its reworked mesh connecting the dots between the 2021 Discovery and the Discovery Sport. New 20-, 21-, and 22-inch wheels are available.

There's a new lower front bumper, with an integrated body-color graphic, intended to visually lower the SUV's stance, and that's echoed at the rear with a new lower rear bumper too. New LED rear lamps wrap around the fenders, while a new black panel connects them across the split tailgate; that panel is the new home for the Discovery badging, too. Opt for the R-Dynamic package – a first for the Discovery – and you get gloss black accents on the lower door claddings, the wheel arch moldings, and the roof, along with on the grille.

R-Dynamic Discovery models also get two-tone leather and contrast stitching inside, with the 2021 model year bringing a number of changes to the cabin. Seven seats are available – select trims getting a third row option – with a fully redesigned center console. That makes space for a much larger, 11.4-inch touchscreen and Land Rover's Pivi Pro infotainment.

It promises to be faster in use and easier to operate, not to mention swifter to load when you first get in thanks to a backup battery. Dual LTE modems mean the 2021 Discovery can simultaneously download OTA updates and stream media, as well as offer a WiFi hotspot for up to eight clients. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, and wireless, and there's support for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. A wireless charging pad – that can deliver up to 15W – with a built-in signal booster is available.

The new HVAC system offers PM2.5 air filtration and cabin air ionization, and can pre-clean before you get into the car. Both first and second rows get seat heating, and there are now HVAC vents in the center console for the second row. That also has 160mm of sliding travel, fore and back, and extended seat cushions for extra comfort.

A 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display replaces analog dials with digital graphics, and there's an optional color head-up display. The driver also gets a new, four-spoke steering wheel, and redesigned controls for the gear selector. "Click and Go" tablet holders are integrated into the front seatbacks, allowing for easy tablet mounting for those in the second row. There are four 12V sockets and multiple USB-A ports as well, and a center console chiller box can be added.

It's not the only new, practical feature. An optional hands-free Gesture Tailgate opens when you wag your foot under the rear bumper, and there's up to 74.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded. With all seven seats up, you get 9.1 cubic feet. The seats themselves can be remotely stowed or popped up via the Pivi Pro touchscreen, and the lower tailgate is sturdy enough to support more than 660 pounds of weight. Instead of a key, the second-generation Land Rover Activity Key has a touchscreen and acts as a watch now, and can lock, unlock, and start the 2021 Discovery.

As for engines, the entry-level Discovery 2.0L S gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 296 hp. Stepping up to the Discovery 3.0L S R-Dynamic switches to the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 mild-hybrid, with 355 hp.

Either way, air suspension is standard – with 115mm of possible adjustment – as is the Land Rover Terrain Response 2 system with multiple drive modes. There's a new Wade Mode, which can deal with up to 900mm of water. Towing capacity is up to 8,200 pounds, the automaker says, and there's an available powered rear tow bar and Advanced Tow Assist. ClearSight Ground View is available too, using a front camera to give a view "through" the Discovery's hood on the infotainment screen.

The 2021 Discovery 2.0L S kicks off at $53,900 (plus $1,350 destination), while the 2021 Discovery 2.0L S R-Dynamic starts at $56,400. The 2021 Discovery 3.0L S R-Dynamic begins at $61,900, while the top-spec 2021 Discovery 3.0L HSE R-Dynamic is from $68,900.