After putting nearly 2,000 break-in miles on our 2017 Land Rover Discovery, it’s clear that this luxury SUV is far different from its predecessors. The robust powertrain delivers on-demand acceleration, the air suspension provides a firm but steady ride, and the cabin is as quiet as Wimbledon's Centre Court the moment before a serve.

Yet our 2017 Land Rover Discovery also suffered from many of the brand’s quirks—some might call them traditions—and shortcomings. The big Discovery lumbers about, making its prodigious heft apparent to everyone inside: It’s more hippo in a tutu than dancing queen. And the controls continue to baffle and frustrate, from the infotainment system to accessing the third-row seat.

2017 Land Rover Discovery
Car Shopping

We bought a Discovery HSE, which starts at $56,950. On top of that, we added more than $11,000 in options, some of which were required to get safety features we wanted. In the end, with delivery costs we paid $69,260 for our Discovery dressed in Aintree Green Metallic paint. That pits it against the Audi Q7 and BMW X5.

On a positive note, the Discovery uses Jaguar/Land Rover’s gem of a powertrain, a 340-hp, 3.0-liter supercharged V6 mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic. This engine provides lots of power, with near-immediate response when you step on the accelerator. Passing at highway speeds is effortless, and the Disco smartly moves away from a stop.

Although the Discovery shares some underpinnings with the Range Rover Sport, don’t expect a similar driving experience. Despite Land Rover’s talk about the Discovery saving nearly 1,000 pounds over the LR4 (its predecessor) through the extensive use of aluminum, the end result isn’t as great. Our last tested LR4, with a V8 engine, weighed in at 5,711 pounds; our similarly equipped V6-powered Discovery tipped the scales at 5,406 pounds. That’s not quite the diet Land Rover promised.

On the road, we found the steering was light and short on feedback but had quick response. The result is that the driver is making a series of constant steering corrections, making it more challenging to stay in the lane. This is made more noticeable by the overly intrusive lane-keeping assist, which seems to fight the driver for control.

Furthermore, the new Discovery lumbers about, with enough body roll that passengers feel tossed about.

Things improve when it comes to ride quality, which skews toward the firm side. The Discovery’s optional air suspension does a commendable job steadying the SUV and soaking up most bumps and ruts, though some larger pavement flaws come through. Exterior noises are effectively shut out, making for a near-silent driving experience. Only when you tromp on the accelerator does the engine and exhaust note cut through the isolation. Overall, the driving experience is mostly refined and appropriate for a premium SUV, though not at the same level of plushness as the flagship Range Rover.

2017 Land Rover Discovery interior.

Inside, the driver and front passenger are treated to the traditional Land Rover thronelike seats. Big, firm, supportive, and upright, this perch sets the driver up with a commanding view of the outside. But the wide roof pillars hurt the driver’s visibility, both looking ahead and looking back. It’s particularly difficult to see straight back when the second-row head restraints have been raised: The center restraint effectively blocks the rear glass. In addition, the high dash and hoodline make it difficult to know where the Discovery’s nose ends.

Fortunately, the optional electronic air suspension makes getting in and out easier. Every time the ignition is shut off, the Discovery lowers itself by about a half-inch. It drops an inch more when a door is opened, and returns to normal driving height the next time it's driven away.

This feature makes it easier for passengers—particularly children—to climb into the cabin. Still, some drivers found the sloping roof pillar and tall seats created a challenge to entry and exit.

There’s plenty of headroom and cabin width for three adults to fit in the second row, but knee and toe room are limited, even with the seat positioned all the way back. Plus the low seat cushion provides little thigh support, resulting in passengers sitting with their knees up in the air.

Our Discovery was equipped with the Remote Intelligent Seat Fold Package. This allows the rear seatbacks to be power-folded and raised via the infotainment system, buttons in the rear-hatch area, and a smartphone app.

To access those third-row seat you must deal with … more quirks. The second-row seats only slide forward and back manually. This means that access to the third row is a slow, convoluted process: First press a button and wait for the second-row seatback to power tilt forward, then manually shove the whole assembly forward, which reveals a narrow path to the third-row. SUVs that cost far less—Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas—do this with a lot more ease and grace.

Learn more about our top-rated SUVs.

That narrow passageway and small, low-mounted third-row seat are primarily meant for kids to use. Both rear rows feature three-stage heated seats (and cooled seats for the second row), HVAC vents, and USB ports. Power-open the rear sunshade and the cavelike feeling brightens. Lower both of the rear rows and you’re greeted with an expansive cargo area, although space behind the third-row seat for gear and bags is significantly limited when the seats are up.

The final bit of Land Rover quirkiness rears its head when interacting with the main controls. Go beyond the theatrics of the elegant cylindrical gear selector that dramatically rises from the center console; it’s the touch screen infotainment system that frustrates. It’s slow to initialize when the ignition is started, and the system takes time to respond to inputs. Front-seat occupants often found themselves stabbing the screen two or three times before it would respond. When the system did respond, occupants sometimes hit a button they didn’t mean to, taking them back out of the screen and forcing them to try again. Simple tasks, such as changing audio tone, are a multistep process. And the buttons to activate or deactivate the lane-keeping safety features and control the rear hatch are hidden from view.

2017 Land Rover Discovery rear

There are some definite high notes, however. The aforementioned ability to raise and lower the rear seatbacks—individually or as a group—while sitting up front is a smart use of technology. And the seat-heating and cooling controls are neatly integrated into the temperature dials. Simply push the center of the rotary control and then dial how much you want to warm or cool the seat.

Opinions on the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery are divided as we begin our formal, instrumented testing. Some drivers would be tempted to buy the Discovery, but at the same time they find it to be too frustrating and expensive. Check back on for final test results and ratings.