Land Rover Discovery SW 1998 - 2004

Land Rover Discovery SW 1998 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Exceptional off-road abilities
  • Comfortable seats suitable for long journeys
  • Spacious and practical


  • Reliability issues
  • Rust problems should be addressed


The Discovery is a 4x4 legend and one of the best off-roaders ever built. The Discovery 2 is based on the first generation model that made debut in 1989 and transformed the European off-road vehicle market. It's one of the last modern cars to have been built in the classic way ‐ body on frame. The engineers had made 720 changes to the car, stretched it by 6 and a half inches and upgraded the design. The car also received new engines that improved its dynamic features.

Exterior and Interior

The silhouette of the car hasn't changed, it still has the distinct three-volume body with the easily identifiable safari windows over its heightened hind side that is so great when moving cargo and so frustrating when barred from multi-storey parking lots. The new car has a more modern look both inside and out. The interior has also been upgraded, unfortunately, not all of the quality issues were solved here. However, at its highest spec with leather interior, the car is as nice as any German alternatives. If fitted with folded seats at the back, the car can comfortably accommodate 7 people plus tow a 3.5-ton trailer.

Performance and Economy

Both engines provide enough power to tackle off-roads challenges, move cargo or tow trailers and equipment. The petrol engine is the heartiest of the two but with only 17mpg, it is rarely chosen. The diesel has always been the most popular choice. Now that its power was upgraded to 135BHP, it became even more attractive. Fuel economy is around 30mpg. Because two new Discovery generations have appeared since, the 2nd generation is relatively cheap on the used car market. For its price bracket, it is easily the best off-roader that you can buy. Same age Mercedes M-Class, BMW X5 and Grand Cherokee are more expensive and have less off-road ability.

Like to Drive

If you don't mind it being quite slow, and if quick acceleration from the traffic lights is not at the top of your priority list, you'll enjoy driving the Discovery. The driver's position is very comfortable and offers great visibility. The car possesses excellent grip, it's safe to drive even on wet and muddy surfaces. Although it's not as agile in the city as you might wish and parking is a bit awkward, it's really off the road that you can appreciate the Discovery to its full potential. There are very few places on the planet that the car couldn't negotiate.

Faults and Repairs

The car has been built solidly enabling it to uphold rigorous off-road conditions. Nevertheless it doesn't stand out as a reliable car. Owning a Discovery is like going through a very long "to-do" list and although the majority of the faults are easy to fix or can be fixed at a later date, the list never seem to be shrinking. The Discovery requires regular maintenance; lubricants and filters are recommended to be replaced at shorter intervals than with other cars. If the maintenance schedule is observed meticulously, engines, transmissions and drive system have a very long lifespan. It's usually the little things that go wrong. Older models often have issues with suspension and electric system. One of the major problems is the rust. Although things have significantly improved since the 1st generation Discovery, there are still parts that are prone to excessive rust, especially the sills. If buying a used Discovery, choose a car that has been rust-proofed. Doing repairs at the official dealer centres is not advisable because the Land Rover dealer is infamous for horrendous prices on parts and labour. Luckily there are many independent 4x4 specialists and enthusiast networks making the maintenance cost achievable to almost anyone.