Sand, sand, everywhere a sand, blocking out the scenery, blowing my mind…
Apologies to Five Man Electrical Band, but our trip through Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park in Utah was a thrilling automotive adventure as we tossed several models of the 2018 Land Rover Discovery up and down the salmon-coloured dunes, spraying silica off all four wheels.
The new Disco was designed to be the most capable off-roader in Land Rover’s lineup, and a variety of tests — from sashaying through sand to clambering over rocks — suggests the company achieved its goal. At one point, we had it on three wheels, with the front right wheel three feet in the air. Even with that stress on the chassis, all the doors opened and closed fine.
For the sand, handlers took out about 18 per cent of tire pressure to improve traction, and we selected sand mode — which kills traction control and stability control and changes throttle mapping and transmission shift points to maximize the ability to maintain momentum.
Nobody got stuck. Stopped, yes, but backing up and trying again solved all issues. No tow ropes were stressed in the testing of this car.
Best part? As well as it handled the off-road bits, it handled the on-road bits even better. Although we had just finished climbing some imposing rocks, when we got back on the highway, it did not feel as though we were driving a rock crusher.
There are two engine choices, a 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 gasoline engine and a 254 horsepower turbocharged V-6 diesel. Base prices range from $61,500 to $82,500. The gas models come as SE ($61,500), HSE ($68,500), HSE Luxury ($75,000) and First Edition ($82,500). Diesels only start at HSE, and are a $2,000 premium, meaning the jump to a diesel from a base gas model is $9,000.