Land Rover Discovery Series 5 (2017-2020)

Models Covered

5dr SUV (2.0/3.0 diesel / 3.0-litre Si6 petrol)


In early fifth generation form, Land Rover’s Discovery continued to offer the toughest, the most practical and the most capable choice in the large SUV sector. Structurally with this much improved design, much was borrowed from larger Range Rover models, along with fresh engine options and more sophisticated media connectivity. The Discovery though, continued to have its own authentic appeal. In many ways, it remains the ultimate expression of the Land Rover brand. Here we look at the early pre-facelift 2017-2020-era Discovery models for the used buyer.

The History

In fifth generation form, Land Rover’s Discovery was re-imagined and revitalised by the Solihull brand to better compete with its less capable large segment SUV rivals.

Without the Discovery model line, it’s doubtful whether the Land Rover brand would even exist today. Launched back in 1989, the original version merely bolted more spacious bodywork onto an aging Range Rover chassis, but the sales that this and the subsequent updated ‘Discovery 2’ design managed to generate were considerable. Enough to save the company and finance development of a properly sophisticated Discovery model, the third generation car launched in 2004. Thanks to its double chassis and air suspended ‘Integrated Body Frame’ technology, this contender was able to match decent tarmac driving dynamics to Land Rover’s legendary off road prowess and customers loved it. So much so that the brand kept the same basic design for the Discovery 4 model of 2009, which added in a smarter cabin and more effective engineware.

When the time came to create the fifth generation version of this SUV though, it was clear that a fresh direction would be needed. So in 2017 at launch, the familiar boxy shape gave way to a sleeker silhouette that borrowed much from the smaller Discovery Sport model. And what lay beneath the curvier panelwork was even more significant, the old heavy duty body-on-frame architecture of the previous designs replaced by the more car-like aluminium monocoque used by modern era large Range Rovers.

Some of the MK5 model changes were controversial – like the decision to dispense with the old split rear tailgate. And some of them were merely sensible – like the introduction of new-era media connectivity and camera-driven safety tech. Ultimately, the object of it all, says Land Rover, was to create a large luxury 7-seat SUV that could compete more credibly with ultra-modern-feeling direct rivals like Audi’s Q7 and Volvo’s XC90 and attract fresh buyers to the brand. All without upsetting the muddy boot-wearing upper-middle class folk who’d done so much to establish the Discovery model line. The car in this form sold until late 2020, when it was heavily updated with mild hybrid engines and new electric architecture. But it’s the pre-facelift 2017-2020-era models we look at here.

What You Get

With this Discovery 5, Chief Designer Gerry McGovern and his styling team took a clean sheet approach and set out to do something different. Or quite different anyway. The front end was very much a development of the look that by 2017 we were already familiar with from the smaller Discovery Sport model. Plus there’s a traditional Land Rover clamshell bonnet. And the stepped roofline and the prominent rear C-pillar were both apparently inspired by Discoverys of the past.

Once installed in the driver’s chair, you get a commanding a view of the road ahead that locates your eye line several inches above where it would be in a German rival. In that respect, this car’s similar to its Range Rover Sport showroom stablemate, but this cabin (quite intentionally) lacks the purposeful driver positioning of that car and some of the sheer indulgence of its fixtures and fittings.

What about the rear? Well in many ways, the further back you go, the more spacious this Discovery becomes by class standards, something that’s immediately obvious once you pull back the wide-opening side door and take a seat in the second row.

What To Look For

Land Rover products have been featuring much improved build quality in recent years but our owner survey revealed that the brand still has a little way to go to match its German rivals in this regard. We came across several owners who’d had issues, mostly electrical or infotainment-related. Nothing major though.

Most examples you’ll come across will have been used for towing – and quite a few will have seen heavy off road use too, so check carefully underneath and examine the alloy wheels for scratching. Check that the spare wheel (mounted under the rear of the car) hasn’t been stolen. Then examine the interior for signs of family damage. There were two product recalls for these 2017-2020-period models, one for a fuel return hose leaking and the other for an issue with the Autonomous Emergency Braking system: check that both of these have been done. And of course insist on a service history.

On The Road

There’s nothing quite like a Land Rover Discovery and not much comes close to matching the sheer capability of this fifth generation version. From behind the wheel, you get a great view of the road ahead and a real feeling of control that on tarmac you can properly exploit this time around. That’s thanks to the significantly improved levels of agility that were made possible in this MK5 model by the installation of the aluminium monocoque chassis the engineers borrowed from the company’s two largest Range Rover models. This enabled the brand to offer the option of a smaller 240bhp four cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine in early MK5 models and thus equipped, the entry-level variant in this MK5 Discovery range proved to be a massive 480kgs lighter than the base derivative in the previous model line-up. Despite that, this SUV remains a significantly heavy thing, with most variants weighing in at well over the 2.2-tonne mark.


Thanks to a clever, classless feel that nothing else can quite replicate, this MK5 model brought a wonderful authenticity to its market segment. Enough to make it the world’s ultimate family SUV if you’re looking for a used large SUV from the 2017-2020 period? Well that depends on your perspective. Those who come to this segment in search of the genuine article will surely think so. One thing’s for certain though: there’s nothing else quite like it.