For decades, the British brand Land Rover is well-known for its luxury four-wheel-drive SUVs. Land Rover’s competitors are equally upscale because they are SUVs produced by Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus.
They appeal to buyers who want both ruggedness and elegance. But not everybody is enamored with them. For example, Consumer Reports couldn’t stand Land Rover’s 2020 midsize SUV lineup. We explain why CR rated the Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport, and the Land Rover Discovery at the very bottom of the segment.
What Consumer Reports found wrong with the Range Rover
Consumer Reports’ testers gave the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover a 54 out of 100 because of the flaws they found. But the testers liked its quick acceleration provided by a standard 3.0-liter inline V6 engine that produces 355 hp. They also appreciated the effortless shifting of its eight-speed automatic transmission.
At 17 mpg overall when tested, the Range Rover’s fuel economy is less than impressive and is rated one out of five. Its handling is adequate but left the testers cold. It is solid enough when maneuvering through the corners, but it is a bit clumsy when pushed to its limits. The SUV’s responsive braking earned a score of four out of five.
Testers gave the Range Rover high scores for comfort. They praised the high-quality wood, leather, and chrome trim appointments and enjoyed its soft, supportive seats. Its cabin is roomy and quiet.
Its off-road capability is superb as would be expected from a Land Rover. And compared to some of its rivals, its towing capacity of 7,715 pounds outstrips many SUVs in the luxury midsize SUV segment.
So, where did the Range Rover fail? For one thing, testers found its controls hard to use. Most of them were accessible through a 10.0-inch touchscreen, but frequently necessary functions weren’t readily accessible, and there were unintuitive shortcuts for others. The rotary shifter is another pain point, lacking safeguards to keep the vehicle in place if the driver forgets to shift into Park.
But the most obvious problem that subtracted points from the Range Rover’s overall score is its predicted reliability. A score of one out of five is problematic for an SUV with a price that starts at $90,900 and tops out at $209,500. Despite having a road test score of 78 out of 100 and a predicted owner satisfaction of three out of five, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover stumbles when it comes to reliability.
What Consumer Reports disliked about the Range Rover Sport
Despite its similar name, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a completely different animal from the brand’s flagship model. Sportier, shorter, lower, and more affordable than the Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport is designed to compete with the Audi Q8, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the BMW X5.
Like the Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport scored a lowly 54 out of 100, and like its sibling, it has a few pluses going for it but also more glaring minuses.
Consumer Reports testers gave the Range Rover Sport a 72 out of 100 for its road test, but it did receive a thumbs up for nimble handling. Rapid acceleration is another plus with its standard 340-hp, 3.0-liter V6 engine matched with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy tested at a mediocre 18 mpg overall.
The Range Rover Sport proved to be off-road-worthy, but it’s made more capable with an optional low-range setting. Like the Ranger Rover, the Range Rover Sport tows a hefty 7,715 pounds and has a surprisingly excellent payload of 1,345 pounds.
One big problem, though, is its hard, uneven ride. Comfort is not a priority in this model, especially if buyers go for the tiny third-row option. A noisy exhaust is another liability for this SUV. It also shares the hard-to-use controls and rotary selector with the Range Rover.
And the Range Rover Sport shared similar reliability problems with its less-sporty sibling, with a rating of one out of five for predicted reliability. Predicted owner satisfaction is four out of five.
The starting price for this version is $68,650 and goes up to $114,500. It’s a cheaper Land Rover than the Range Rover, but it seems that CR testers think that it’s still too high a price for an undependable vehicle.
Why the Land Rover Discovery was at the bottom of CR’s rankings
At the very bottom of Consumer Reports’ 2020 rankings for luxury midsize SUVs is the three-row Land Rover Discovery. It scored 51 out of 100 overall and ranked 19 out of 27 since the eight SUVs following it have not yet been tested.
The Discovery’s road test score landed at 71 out of 100. Acceleration is almost as quick as the other two Land Rovers in this segment since it shares a standard 340-hp, 3.0-liter V6 engine with the Range Rover Sport. Its transmission is equally smooth. Fuel economy, like its other two siblings, is just so-so at 17 mpg. But its handling is somewhat clumsy. Its braking, while acceptable, could have been better for an SUV priced starting at $52,300 and topping out at $69,200.
The Discovery’s interior boasts quality materials and is well-made. Comfort, however, is a mixed bag. Its front seats are generously sized and comfortable but both the rear and third-row seats have been installed set too low to be supportive.
Access to the front and rear seats of the Discovery is satisfactory, but CR’s testers found the third-row access difficult due to passengers having to wait for the power-tilt rear seats to move out of the way.
Like the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport, the Discovery falters when it comes to reliability, with a score of one out of five. Predicted owner satisfaction tanked at two out of five.
The common denominators that created poor ratings for all three Land Rovers were middling handling, poor fuel economy, and most importantly, paltry reliability. For Consumer Reports, a luxury SUV should offer as much reliability as it does comfort, sturdiness, and quick acceleration.