2003 Land Rover Discovery Reviews

2003 Land Rover Discovery Landmark 2.5 Td5 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland

Model year2004
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 2.5 Td5 turbo diesel Automatic
Performance marks 4 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.0 / 10
Distance when acquired33000 miles
Most recent distance50000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Passat

Summary:

Out dated, agricultural dinosaur, but I love it

Faults:

Passengers door lock failed.

Passengers door window glass regulator failed, causing the glass to drop into the door.

A variety of rattles and squeaks emanating from the trim and fold up 3rd row seats.

Leaks from tailgate door seal.

General Comments:

Ever since I saw the first Discovery launched in 1989, I wanted one. The trouble was I was only 15 at the time! I waited a few years and admired each and every updated model as they were launched. Normal small and family cars came and went, and the desire for a Land Rover remained.

Finally in December 06 at the ripe old age of 31 the dream was realised. I bought a 2 year old Discovery TD5 Landmark manual with 33000 on the clock. It looks feels and drives like a new car. Well like a new truck might be more accurate, for although it has all the toys - leather, climate control, electric windows , sunroofs, CD multi changer, heated windscreen etc etc, it is still a car designed more than 20 years ago and it shows. From its solid axles and separate chassis to the hard plastics of the interior, it is plain that in 2004 this car was just about keeping up with the more modern competition. But it was this ruggedness which appealed to me, and which I still love every time I look at it.

Reliability horror stories worried me, and still do, but to date this one has had no serious faults, and handles the daily commute and recreational mileage with ease.

Fuel economy hovers around 27 - 28 mpg, which is about what I expected for the manual. The auto box was initially what I was going to buy, but as they only seem to manage about 22 mpg and have a mind of their own when it comes to gear selection, I guess I made the right choice.

The down side of this economy is filling the tank. At current prices (Diesel costs £1.13 per litre at time of writing) a tank of fuel is creeping wrongly towards the £100 per fill mark, which is hard on the wallet when a car is privately owned. It is the one downside to ownership, and is the only reason I would consider returning to a normal family sized car.

Aside from fuel, running costs are pretty reasonable, and consumables are not much more expensive than any other car - except those 18 inch tyres, which I have yet to replace. It came to me with a brand new set of Goodyear Wranglers at £600, but 17000 miles later they are wearing extremely well with plenty of life left in them.

For a car approaching 2 1/2 tons, it can accelerate pretty rapidly. It's obviously no sports car, but with the big 5 cylinder diesel remapped, it often embarrasses smaller, sportier cars away from lights/junctions.

It doesn't have the ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement), but it doesn't need it. The air suspension at the rear and conventional springs up front seem to control the ride fairly well, and it certainly handles much better than earlier series 1 Disco's that I have driven.

I just adore the looks! The pocketed headlamps of the 2002 facelifted model (a la Range Rover) look seriously classy; silver paintwork, 18 inch alloys and full black leather make this one impressive bit of kit. I have added a hands free phone kit and sat-nav, and it is really very practical for all our family needs. My six year old son loves the rearmost seats, which are just the right size for him (wouldn't fancy spending much time there myself though), and the baby seat in the middle row allows the little one to sit up high and have a good view out, which keeps him content and blissfully quiet on a journey.

As a tow car it blew me away. As keen caravaners, we have a large 5 berth tourer which we make lots of use of. The previous VW Passat TDI towed the van adequately, but I was always left wanting more power and stability. The Disco provides that effortlessly. To use a cliche, it tows as if there is nothing on the back with rock steady stability, even in strong crosswinds and when overtaking. This car can tow at surprising speeds in safety, and I am often amused by the reaction of other drivers as I pass them on the motorway with 20 foot caravan in tow!

As you can tell I really like my Discovery. Would I buy another one? Probably not. It's not the car's fault, it does everything I need of it exceptionally well, but with the way fuel and road tax prices are going, I think the next car will have to be a little more economical to run. But until then I'll keep enjoying the Discovery and keep my fingers crossed that expensive gremlins stay away from it!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th March, 2008

19th Sep 2009, 05:12

To update on the above, the Disco has now covered 73000 miles, 40k in my care.

It would seem that my earlier concerns were justified - the bills have indeed been big to repair a lot of annoying faults.

Clutch, both rear suspension air bags, fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, exhaust downpipe - catalyst broke - but did not put a new cat on - helps the performance, 4 new tyres, which replaced the originals that lasted 31000 miles.

Now the passenger door window doesn't open and the rear passenger door lock stopped working!!

Economy surprisingly has improved to around 30 - 31mpg.

Still love it despite all its faults.

2003 Land Rover Discovery Td5 Es, 5 Seater 2.5 TD5 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 2.5 TD5 turbo diesel Automatic
Performance marks 2 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 3 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.0 / 10
Distance when acquired24000 miles
Most recent distance31000 miles
Previous carVauxhall Vectra

Summary:

Very Pretty Car, Completely outdated mechincal design, Not reliable at all, not a car you can trust

Faults:

Very Bad and virtually obsolete Sat Nav System made radio system non operational, was fixed by dealer after lots of inconvenience only to have the problem re occur on 3 occasions and 3 more trips to the dealer.

Sometimes just doesn't start, as if its immobilised, give it a few minutes and it will go.

Thought there was something seriously wrong with the auto box as the engine is always revving the nuts out of its self, dealer told us 'It's just how they are'.

General Comments:

Very comfortable and very beautiful looking vehicle.

Hideous driving experience purely agricultural compared to the new one.

Steering has terrible lock and busy car parks are a no go.

Gutless TD5 engine and auto box are a terrible match. The gearing seems all wrong. The engine is forever red lining when not even pushed hard and gear changes are long, drawn out, jerky processes.

Don’t Go for the Sat Nav system as is it purely just lifted out of a BMW from when they owned land rover and its completely un-ergonomic and outdated. Also causes the cd player / radio to not turn on, at regular intervals even after being fixed repeatedly. which is a pain because the cd player system is one of the best bits of a discovery because it hides the incredible engine and road noise in the cabin.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th January, 2006

1st Mar 2009, 15:42

If your Disco is so bad, should you not have given it a blue unhappy smiley then?

17th Sep 2009, 06:56

Disagree with your comments regarding the TD5 and auto box combination. My TD5 auto keeps the revs between 2000 and 2500 in normal driving i.e. in the engine's optimum operating range and only goes up to 3000 rpm if I'm pushing it or 4000rpm on kickdown.

This is a 2.3 tonne car with about 130bhp on tap and the aerodynamics of a house brick! Trying to drive it like a boy racer is not going to work, especially with an auto box.

My experience is that it behaves perfectly adequately in normal driving and is particularly good on longer motorway journeys cruising at ~65mph, which also gives fuel consumption over 30mpg even when fully laden.

17th Sep 2009, 19:46

The reason Land Rover suffered such a huge quality drop in the late 90's and early '00's is because unfortunately Ford bought them out and cheaped them up something wicked.

20th Jan 2010, 04:00

I thought between 90's and 97 it was just Land Rover, and then BMW bought it, and then sold to Ford?

Average review marks: 6.9 / 10, based on 8 reviews