1997 Land Rover Discovery LSE 4.0 V8 from North America


They always leak a little bit. You can't fix that


Significant oil leak - replaced front main seal.

Passenger side window came off track.

Starter died.

Occasional multiple misfire on Cyl 1 & 5.

(I believe this is an issue related to a bad Vehicle Speed Sensor. There is a LR service bulletin detailing this issue if your truck is exhibiting multiple misfires on odd numbered cylinders for this model year.)

Picky ignition switch. Need to jiggle the key sometimes to get it out.

General Comments:

My first Land Rover and I have absolutely fallen in love with them.

I received this truck after it had basically sat for two years and was deteriorating in the hot Alabama sun. It's one of the rare-ish '97 LSE models and was in need of some interior bits (seat controls/panels, sun visor clips, gear shift indicator film) as well as a little mechanical refreshing and a good wash.

With 73k on the ODO and after a complete tuneup at the local dealership it ran perfectly. Smooth idle, no strange sounds/vibrations and a nice exhaust sound. Unfortunately, once the engine fired up I could see that oil was dripping at a significant rate above the front pumpkin. This was attributed to a bad front main seal and was replaced at the dealer for around $800.

The vehicle has performed just as I had expected ever since and is a pleasure to drive. While the 4.0 V8 is a bit on the sluggish side in terms of horsepower delivery, it makes enough torque as to never feel underpowered in any situation I have come across.

I am 6'1, 180lbs and feel perfectly at home behind the wheel. While the bottom cushion is a bit short, it's nothing that becomes bothersome. The ergonomics are excellent and everything falls into hand for a person of my size. It does exhibit a decent amount of body roll and does require that you pay attention to what you're driving. However, it tracks straight and has a solid, planted feel to the steering. Driver comfort is excellent. It soaks up bumps and bad roads and always feels in control. On the highway, passing power is adequate and cruises like a smooth European sedan. I am actually surprised at how much speed it can carry; I've found myself cruising with traffic above 85Mph on 95 feeling like it was 65.

It's off-road performance is second to none and that is the reason I decided to own a Land Rover to begin with. The vehicle is completely stock and have shown itself to be nearly unstoppable. It has climbed any obstacle I have thrown it into as well as fording waters up to the hood line with absolutely no intrusion or ill affects. This thing really does make you feel like you could cross a jungle continent in it. The passenger window came off track on a hard hit off road.

Having said all that, I do need to mention a few things. This is not a luxury vehicle just because it cost a bit more than the other guys when new. If you bought one because of that, you fooled yourself and should have ponied up for the Range Rover. What you pay for here is quality - which itself if something that's questionable. While a Series I Disco could potentially last forever, unless you're planning on turning wrenches yourself don't bother with it - you could buy a small nation with the cost of repairs in the vehicles lifetime.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th December, 2006

7th Jan 2007, 15:29

HI, I'm thinking about buying a land rover for my first car, I can afford to buy one, but I'm wondering if you've run into any very expensive issues with the vehicle. Also how does it do on gas millage for you, I live in New Hampshire and have a lot of driving to and from school. I can pay for the gas I'm just hoping it won't be horribly expensive because I don't want to waste money. Also could you tell me how much you pay for insurance is it a lot or is it reasonable. Thanks Matt C.

1997 Land Rover Discovery SE 4.0 V8 from North America


Capable, reliable suv


Driver's door handle doesn't fully engage door release mechanism without the key in the door and being turned while opening.

General Comments:

Land Rovers in general, especially Discoveries have a bad reputation because of supposed poor design quality and lack of reliability.

However, my Discovery is ten years old and I've driven it for 7,000 miles and absolutely nothing mechanically has gone wrong with it. (I don’t regard the door handle handle as being a huge deal, and it’s probably not a difficult fix.)

From what I can discern, these cars have a bad reputation for two reasons. First, because people expect way too much from them. They're not Mercedes S-Class sedans. They're loud. They don’t ride like a car, because of their dual solid axle setup. People regard Land Rover as a high end car; up there with BMW, Audi, etc, and they’re disappointed when the car isn’t as supple and comfortable as they think it should be. The automatic reaction is "what a piece of junk!"

They don’t take into account their Land Rover is designed to cross some of the harshest terrains on the planet-- not take their kids to soccer practice. Land Rover makes uncompromising, rugged trucks. They handle like trucks. They ride like trucks. They get truck-like mileage. They have truck-like interiors.

Secondly, the required maintenance schedule is demanding. Owning a Discovery is not like owning an Accord or Camry... one can’t just change the oil and drive it without worry for 200,000 miles. People often opt for what they think is the cheaper option of ignoring required maintenance, and more often than not, it ends up biting them in the rear. I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but the majority of legitimate mechanical faults people come across with these cars probably has way more to do with owner's neglect than poor design.

That being said, these are not cheap cars to run. They drink exorbitant quantities of gas and like I said, it’s not cheap to stay on top of the maintenance. My Discovery is also the slowest vehicle I’ve ever driven.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th September, 2006

18th Sep 2006, 16:18

I believe you are a bit off on your assertion that those who experienced problems likely did not maintain their car. In my case I have had many 4x4 trucks from Land Cruisers, F250’s, Dodge, to my current Toyota Tundra 4x4.

The Discovery was by far the worst piece of engineering I have had. I drive off pavement a fair bit and had the dealer maintain the vehicle (anything needed was done as per the schedule). My LR was consistent in its need of $700 - $2000 dollar repairs (failures) every 10,000Km.

In my opinion if you want a reliable, rugged, quality, 4 wheeler Land Rover is not your vehicle. Toyota Land Cruiser, or Tundra would be more appropriate. If you like either paying for repairs or are mechanically inclined then LR is a comfortable option, with a lovely sounding smooth V8.

The quality of parts in the LR were inadequate and prone to failure. Your sunroof (s) will leak and cost $400-600, to repair. I also predict many oil leaks in your future, likely a number of Lucas electrical components will also fail in short order. Further you will have to do brakes every 40,000km or so.

I was very happy to walk away from mine. I am very happy with my Toyota, and my Mercedes. Both are far superior in every way.

10th Dec 2006, 19:20

The Land Rover Discovery is based on the same running gear and very similar chassis to the Land Rover Defender - which is widely accepted as THE best, publicly available, off road vehicle the world has ever seen!

If what you want is a fast ride for the kids to school each day - may I humbly suggest any of the following:



Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

If what you require is a vehicle with genuine off road ability - and I don't mean bumping a curb here and there - do yourself a favour and have a look at http://www.cameltrophy.co.uk and check out what the car is really capable of.

My last words here - if you're in the market for a 4x4 vehicle that has REAL OFF ROAD ABILITY, then look no further! If you're looking for a truck that will only be used on the road or for the school run - why look further than a BMW or a Porsche?