Discovery vs Everest vs Trailhawk vs Prado


Which family-friendly 4WD is the best all-rounder? We find out.


The arrival of the new fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery is big 4X4 news. So big we thought the best way to test it out was to head to Australia’s biggest State: Western Australia.


And take its biggest rivals… for a huge showdown. So up against the Disco we’ve pitched that eternal 4X4 favourite the Toyota Prado; Jeep’s iconic Grand Cherokee; and the locally developed Ranger-based Ford Everest.


And considering the Disco is a premium priced offering, no point taking any bare bones entry-level models either. Nope; it’s luxury all round.


Our comprehensive drive took us into WA’s harshly spectacular Gascoyne region, with a couple of nights camping in the Kennedy Range National Park.


Not only did we get the chance to engage low range and test the limits of traction, we also spent plenty of kilometres pounding across corrugated red roads at high speed… just like anyone who heads Outback.


Background Info

Land Rover Discovery Sd4 HSE

Engine: 2.0-litre
4-cylinder Turbo Diesel

8-speed Automatic

Power: 177kW

Torque: 500Nm

Safety Rating: 5 Star ANCAP

Seating: 5/7-seat Wagon

Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.5L/100km

Ford Everest Titanium

Engine: 3.2-litre
5-cylinder Turbo-Diesel

6-speed Automatic

Power: 143kW

Torque: 470Nm

Safety: 5 Star ANCAP

Seating: 7-seat Wagon

Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.5L/100km


Jeep Grand
Cherokee Trailhawk

3.0-litre V6 Turbo-Diesel

8-speed Automatic

Power: 184kW

Torque: 570Nm

Safety: 5 Star ANCAP

Seating: 5-seat Wagon

Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100km


Toyota Prado Kakadu

Engine: 2.8-litre
4-cylinder Turbo Diesel

6-speed Automatic

Power: 130kW

Torque: 450Nm

Safety: 5 Star ANCAP

Seating: 7-seat Wagon

Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.0L/100km



Our Sd4 HSE version of the Disco is the high-price marker in this comparo at $96,500. But add the various options our vehicle came with and it rockets to $114,630 (before on-roads).


Among those options are manual-adjust third-row seats ($3,400) and the $3,200 Capability Plus Pack that includes the multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system, an electronically controlled rear locking diff and low-speed crawl control dubbed ‘Terrain Progress Control’. No doubt… Land Rover charges like a wounded Brahman.


The Grand Cherokee is the new $74,000 Trailhawk; that’s the Grand Cherokee with even more off-road ability. It includes Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear A/T tyres, four underbody skid plates and a unique air suspension tune. But you can’t get three-row seating; and autonomous emergency braking is optional.


Our top-spec Kakadu is pre-facelift, which means not a lot except for some cosmetics, minor updates and a small price drop to $84,490. But the essence of the mechanicals, including some pretty trick handling and ride aids, remains familiar.


Then there’s the $74,701 Ford Everest Titanium. In this case, we’re trialling a new off-road oriented no-cost option, which allows you to swap out the standard 20s for the mid-spec Trends 18-inch Bridgestone Duellers, suspension tune and Terrain Management System setup. There are two four-cylinder turbo-diesels here (Land Rover and Toyota), one five-cylinder (Ford) and the V6 in the Jeep which outdoes everything else for both power and torque.


Looking at the numbers, the Disco is the longest (4,970mm) and the Trailhawk the shortest (4,828mm). the Land Rover is also the widest (2,073mm) and the Everest the narrowest (1,860mm). The Prado is the tallest (1,880mm) and the Jeep is the lowest (1,792mm).


The Everest is the heaviest at 2,494kg while the Disco is easily the lightest at a claimed 2,184kg – reflecting the effort Land Rover has made to shear weight with this new generation which shares its aluminium intensive monocoque with the Range Rover Sport.


Like the Land Rover, the Jeep has a car-like integral monocoque; while the bodies of the Toyota and Ford are bolted onto traditional ladder frames.



This is the first time since the 1990s that the Discovery has been offered with a four-cylinder engine. The Sd4 designation means we’re driving the higher-spec biturbo version of the new Ingenium unit.


But if you’ve got any worries about performance check out the power output – 177kW at 4,000rpm. That’s impressive from such a small smoker. The 500Nm torque peak kicks in at just 1,500rpm and channelling that grunt is a smooth-shifting eight-speed ZF automatic.


The other impressive drivetrain number is fuel consumption, which is claimed to be 6.5L/100km and came out on test at a laudable 9.7L/100km. It helps to compensate for that small 77-litre fuel tank.


The Prado’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder doesn’t have the same set of beaut numbers as the Disco. It makes 130kW at 3,400rpm and 450Nm between 1,600rpm and 2,400rpm. A six-speed auto is the standard transmission.


The claimed fuel consumption rate is 8.0L/100km, which turned into 11.7L/100km on test. But when you’ve got a 150-litre tank, who cares? The Trailhawk makes a zesty 184kW at 4,000rpm and 570Nm at 2,000rpm from its Italian VM Motori engine; and it mates to an eight-speed auto. Jeep claims 6.5L/100km, which translated to a still decent 10.7L/100km on test. Combined with a 93-litre tank there’s good potential range on offer.


The inline five-cylinder Everest makes 143kW at 3,000rpm, with 470Nm between 1,750rpm and 2,500rpm; and it drives through a six-speed auto. Claimed fuel economy is 8.0L/100km while we averaged 11.3L/100km. Combine that with an 80-litre tank and it’s fair to say our drive routes were planned around the Ford’s range limitations. The Disco and the Trailhawk have the equal best braked towing capacity at 3,500kg, while the Everest and the facelifted Kakadu can haul 3,000kg (our pre-facelift test car was rated at 2,500kg).



Step up into the Discovery and you’ll discover it’s a step up in class, too. The materials’ quality and the way it is all assembled together is truly impressive. Not only does it look good, it is functional – with lots of storage space and room for adults across all three rows.


Luggage space is huge, with 1,137 litres available when row three is folded and 2,406 litres with row two also collapsed. Importantly, the Disco’s side curtain airbags stretch all the way to row three, while other standard equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, power-adjustable steering column, a 10-inch touch screen, 380-watt Meridian sound system, navigation, tri-zone climate control and leather 10-way adjustable front seats.


If anything, the Prado feels as if it has more interior room in row two than the Disco, although the ladder frame makes it a more knees-up experience. And while not as modern and well thought out as the Disco, it does have some nice gear standard – such as a chilly bin between the front seats and Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment. Luggage space is a poor 480 litres with row three folded, expanding to 1,833 litres with row two also down. Three-row curtain airbags are standard here too; along with a moonroof, heated front seating, leather trim, tri-zone climate control, sat-nav and a primitive form of autonomous emergency braking that slows but doesn’t stop the vehicle.


The Trailhawk feels very modern and car-like inside, albeit less spacious than its rivals. That’s an obvious downside of more compact dimensions, as is the lack of third-row seating. But no-one is going to travel to the Outback and use the space allocated to the third row for anything other than luggage. Storage claims are 1,030 litres and 1,930 litres respectively. Standard Trailhawk gear includes a funky digital instrument panel that can be tuned through different screens, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, a powered steering column and tailgate, Nappa leather, an 8.4-inch touchscreen with off-road pages and a 506-watt Alpine speaker system.


The Everest is clearly number four when you clamber inside. It just can’t hide its truck origins – most obviously the lack of reach adjustment on the steering column. The Sync3 infotainment system is complex because you must drill down through menus to complete relatively simple functions. But there is decent roominess, with 1,050 litres of luggage space on offer before you fold row two (then it expands to a healthy 2,010 litres). Standard equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, sat-nav and power-folding third-row seats. Three-row curtain airbags are again standard.


Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Or the son of Ssangyong Stavic if you like. Yep, the Disco’s exterior ‘looks’ are a discussion point. But when you check out the key numbers – see below – for off-roading, there’s no doubting it delivers. Thanks to its air-sprung suspension the Disco leads every one of them – ground clearance, fording, approach, departure and break-over.

One big change that comes with the Disco’s new design is a single-piece tailgate replacing the old split design. To retain the old ‘seating’ capability, there’s now a power-folding inner tailgate, although it seems more trouble than it’s worth as you stand there waiting for it to open up. The Prado has the only side-opening tailgate and it’s the only one with the tyre mounted most conveniently on the back.

Land Rover Discovery Sd4 HSE

Ground clearance: 283mm

Wading depth: 900m

Approach angle: 34º

Break-over angle: 27.5º

Departure angle: 30º

Ford Everest Titanium

Ground clearance: 225mm

Wading depth: 800mm

Approach angle: 29.5º

Break-over angle: 21.5º

Departure angle: 25º

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

Ground clearance: 260mm

Wading depth: 508mm

Approach angle: 29.8º

Break-over angle: 22º

Departure angle: 27º

Toyota Prado Kakadu

Ground clearance: 220mm

Wading depth: 700mm

Approach angle: 32º

Break-over angle: 22º

Departure angle: 24º

On-Road Performance

As speeds rise the Disco hunkers down on its independent air spring suspension and delivers a truly outstanding combination of ride and handling… considering it is a block of flats on wheels. But now that it’s been on a diet, it’s no heavyweight – so that allows the Ingenium engine to really sing. Albeit quietly. Yep, the sound deadening in this thing is truly luxurious – which means travelling long distances is luxurious as well.


When it comes to noise insulation, the Everest is at the other end of the spectrum. The I5 can be raucous when revved, even despite Ford’s laudable decision to install noise-cancelling tech. But the engine doesn’t lack enthusiasm and the chassis really handles, steers and rides exceptionally well. Considering it’s quite a basic setup with no active adjustment and a live-axle rear-end (albeit with coils and a Watts link), the Titanium demonstrates how much value there is in local tuning.


Which is something the all-independent Trailhawk needs. On smooth bitumen it feels taut and terrific and the V6 delivers great overtaking and hill-munching power. But once the bumps arrive – especially continual corrugations – it loses its composure and becomes uncomfortably loose and bouncy.


The Kakadu, by contrast, feels like a steamroller – simply squashing any road imperfection into submission. The independent front and live-axle rear suspension are assisted by Kinetic adjustable sway bars, adaptive shock absorbers and rear air springs. The Prado is mute, but it’s capable on-road. The engine struggles though. It’s slowest on the pick-up and less lively further up the range than any of its rivals.


Off-Road Performance

There is no shortage of technology here. All four cars have dial-controlled terrain management systems, from the all-seeing Land Rover Terrain Response 2 to Ford’s minimalist Terrain Management System which sticks to throttle, gears and traction control. Add low range, rear locking differentials and hill descent control all round – as well as locking centre diffs for all bar the Everest (which uses a computer controlled clutch) – and you’ve got substantial ability to tackle tough off-roading situations.


In fact, up and down rocky steps, through deep sand and negotiating water crossings, all four proved up to the task. It was fascinating to feel and watch them all reach an obstacle like a step, lose traction, have a think, then find traction again – braking a spinning wheel and diverting drive to where it would do the most good.


The Discovery and the Prado stood out because nothing we found could stop them. But while the TR2 was user-friendly in these circumstances with simple graphics and easy selection choices, the Prado’s Multi Terrain Select was only available in low range. It is unnecessarily complicated too, with three versions of rock crawling to pick from. Thankfully, you can lock diffs in high range.


The Prado’s engine couldn’t match the Discovery’s grunt. It was especially noticeable pushing through heavy sand. Watch out for the mesh grille in the lower fascia in those circumstances – it doesn’t last long!


Predictably, the Everest was the one that ran out of ground clearance first… smashing its side steps. Annoyingly, the TMS also locked in first gear in low range and would only select rock mode. So what happens if there is a stretch of flat ground between rocky sections? You operate the gearbox manually.


The Jeep was the first to lift wheels off the deck and its coarse throttle control in high range made slow-speed work more challenging than it should be. It’s a lot better in low range; or you can engage crawl control.


As speeds rose, the Jeep’s rough road ride also became a factor – especially with its air suspension fully extended. The Jeep also had some puzzling detail issues considering it is so off-road focused. While there are two bright red tow hooks up front, it has none at the rear. Its spare tyre doesn’t match its Goodyears; and (bafflingly) the air suspension didn’t always want to stay on its highest height at low speeds.


The Jeep isn’t the only one with niggly issues. The Disco requires the lower front fascia to be removed if you want to bolt in the tow hook. You also have to unscrew rather than unclip the air box cover if you want to remove sand from the filter. And while we encountered no punctures, we’re not convinced the Discovery’s 20-inch tyre and wheel package is the way to go off-road.


The Disco also had one other occasional issue. On corrugated roads its acceleration rate would dramatically slow, as if the traction control system was getting confused. Maybe it’s a one-off… if it isn’t we’ll all soon know.


Strangely, the Everest’s 18-inch off-road package included H/T rather than A/T tyres. Again, no punctures. Whatever the rubber, it rolled across the imperfections on its passive suspension setup really well. At higher speeds on corrugations it behaved beautifully. Even when the rear end lost grip it drifted with lazy, predictable aplomb. There is something to be said for the simpler solution… and local tuning.



The Kennedy Range National Park proved a wonderful backdrop for our 4X4 comparo. It is a spectacular place and it’s really worth visiting if you’re headed into WA’s north-west. Getting there, travelling through the park and then getting home really emphasised to us how valuable 4X4s are in this great country of ours. There are places you simply won’t get to without one.


So, which of these four did the best job on this trip? Click on the video link to find out and to check out more stunning scenery from the Kennedy Range.

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