A Look Into the Discovery II: The Last Solid Built Land Rover

The Land Rover brand is know around the world for their accomplishments in the off road adventure vehicle market. In recent years the company has almost entirely abandon their Focus on off-road capabilities to move towards a luxury land boat kind of play.

The Land Rover Discovery was the last of the great adventure capable vehicles with sold axles front and rear, along with a heavy duty ladder frame construction.

The Discovery has to be one of the most understated off road worthy vehicles out there. This is partially because of how harmless they look in a stock configuration.

While land rover did an amazing job covering up the brute like features of this SUV, I personally like these vehicles much more with out the van like front bumper that covers all the interesting drive line components.

With the removal of the front bumper the discovery becomes an even better beast suitable for almost any climate and environment. 

Sporty Driving on and off road

While most solid axle vehicles drive like boats with bad attitudes, the discovery feels more like a 6400lbs go-kart that will go anywhere given the time. This is in part because of a few key features like the massive 3ft radius arm style geometry.

The radius arms, coupled with a linear action watts link set up in the back, let the rover glide over terrain at respectable speeds. Along with a well designed stock suspension geometry, Land Rover was the first to integrate an active torsion/roll bar that almost eliminates body roll entirely.

This not only gives the Land Rover its sport car like steering response, but also means that the torsion bars can be turned off at low speeds to allow more articulation when crawling the rock gardens. To give better performance from the suspension the Discovery was also one of the first SUVs to have air suspension fitted to the rear.

While the air system made for a nice ride, the reliability factor goes out the window. Most Rover owners will end up switching to an after market spring and shock set up such as Old Man Emu sport shocks to eliminate the chances of the air ride going out.  

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After a day of adventure off road it’s always nice to know that the Land Rover will take me back home in comfort and luxury. With seating for up to 7, with the additional two jumper seats in the back, the discovery is surprisingly spacious for how small of a wheel base it has.

For creature comforts there is dual climate control up front with heat and A/C in the back along with two nicely placed sun roofs for ventilation. All the extra windows really bring in the light from the surrounding environment and give a much more immersive feel when driving in scenic locations.

For a car designed back in the 90’s the Discovery has quite a lot of electronic gismos that do too many things to even explain, but some of the most notable are the Four wheel ABS and TCS, heated seats, heated front and rear windshield, home link RF, intelligent electronic gear box, and many other fancy buttons play with as you prowl the lands.

inside discovery ii trim radio brake shifter leather seats

Where Land Rover missed their mark

The land rover discovery has to be one of my favorite vehicles however there is still plenty of room for improvement. One of my biggest gripes with this vehicle is the engine.

With a natural aspirated 4.0l with making a mere 188HP and 250 Ft/lbs, You won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. The later 4.6l gave the Discovery a little more push but not enough to really move this 6400lbs beast faster then lame donkey.

What’s even more unfortunate is that all rover engines were plagued with a similar problem of overheating. The cooling systems on these trucks are very temperamental and without the proper upkeep don’t provide sufficient cooling.

Once the land rover engine overheats there is no going back. The sleeves in the engine Will break apart from the block causing slipped sleeves syndrome or even more common the head gaskets Will be destroyed.A

long with being painfully slow in a strait line the discovery suffers from a couple reliability issues with the drive line. One of the most common and dangerous of the drive line issues is the front drive shaft exploding.

As the grease and bearings age in the unserviceable double cardan drive shaft it will eventual fail, hurling drive line shrapnel into just about everything underneath the front of the vehicle.

This usually results in a massive hole in the transmission and thousands of dollars in repair bills. Most knowledgeable rover owners will either replace or upgrade the drive shaft to prevent the catastrophic failure.

The Dust Runners Discovery

We refer to the Dust Runners rover as The Panther because of its handling characteristics and stylings. The panther has been through some of the most trying conditions and I have to say, it’s held up pretty well over the years. Just like most peoples vehicles, it’s a work in progress and over the next year it will be going through many changes. Some time last year we took the rover up to Payson Arizona for a little fun in the mud and this video was the result of said adventure.

4 thoughts on “A Look Into the Discovery II: The Last Solid Built Land Rover”

  1. All the new Land Rover’s are an absolute joke on and off road. They have 4 and 6 cylinder engines with made in China body molds and do not perform up to par off road. When you see them driving down a moderate hill, or through tall grass or 10 inches of water on the marketing videos – that is the reason why. They are not up to par compared to the D1 -D4.

    Take off the Land Rover logo and they looked like they popped out of a Kia Factory. Land Rover was sold from UK to Ford. Then Ford sold it to some company in India who is coasting off the brand name.

    And unlike the old Discovery I and II’s – these new Discovery’s are terrible. Don’t listen to the people on the forums who are shilling or getting subsidized to say rosy things about the new Discovery’s. These cars are a joke for the MSRP. In my opinion it’s better to buy a used DI DII, 3 or 4. After the D4 there is nothing good enough. Your paying 70k for a Kia with a Land Rover logo. I drove one of these at the dealers obstacle course and it was an absolute joke compared to my 1999 Discovery II. They wanted almost 70 for this joke of a car after all was said and done. Not to mention the back of the car look’s like a giant diaper.

    My modified 1999 DII will tear these new Land Rovers up and they won’t be able to cross deep water crossings or snow.

    Land Rover got away from their African Safari Roots. Bottom line. Instead they went in the direction of Land Rover in name only, image and luxury just like the article says. And the older D’s with leather are very nice on the inside.

    If I had to choose between a new Jeep and a new Discovery – I would take a new Jeep even though you will pass another Jeep on the Road every 4 seconds.

    I could easily purchase a new Discovery with cash but would be a fool to do so even for half price. I am now looking a well maintained Discovery 1 from 1989. Yes 1989. 30 years older and it would outperform the “Land Rover” off road – and it looks like a Land Rover should.

    I’ve said on all the forums (and have been banned as well) these new cars are not Land Rovers anymore.

    Suggest anyone with cash and some mechanic knowledge buy a D1 – D4 and fix it up with new parts. You can make it so so cool. Even if you have no mechanic knowledge you can pay a mechanic for a full rehab AND you can add performance package items for way less than 70k. The D2’s in spite of their reliability issues were ahead of their time and have all the technology of the new D’s. Considering they were made in 99-04 this is impressive. There are certain issues and VIN’s you need to avoid so you will need to educate yourself using the forums before purchase on the Land Rover forums.

    The bottom line is that these new Land Rovers are an absolute joke to look and and perform under par off-road for almost 70k. Little better than a glorified KIA. For almost 70k I expect far better than this. I am wondering if you put off road tires on a top of the line KIA if there would be any difference off road.

    Land Rover must get back to their old design roots with a better engine before I even consider purchasing new.

    • As the owner of a 2003 D2 I agree. four years ago I had to put a new engine in mine, as the previous owner had overheated it and slapped a set of Headgaskets on her before selling on. It was not the gaskets, but the liners. Even though the engine cost me a pretty penny, I find it money well spent. 114,000 miles and she still looks good, goes great, and even when the engine finally dropped that liner, has always gotten me home (I did go through 15 gallons of water to get home that day)

  2. I got a 2000 LRD2 I don’t usually say I love inanimate objects but I love this vehicle!! I made it my project when I first got it in 2016 because I knew this was the vehicle for me! The look the feel the drive we connected! The work I put in it was well worth it! If you get the chance to get one jump on it! I have no fear in this SUV peace!!!


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