2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Ford Explorer are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Land Rover Discovery Sport doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Explorer and the Discovery Sport have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Land Rover covers the Discovery Sport. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Discovery Sport ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 18 times as many Ford dealers as there are Land Rover dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Land Rover vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 47 more problems per 100 vehicles, Land Rover is ranked 32nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Land Rover vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 75 more problems per 100 vehicles, Land Rover is ranked 30th.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Discovery Sport:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

Discovery Sport 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

237 HP

251 lbs.-ft.

Discovery Sport 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

286 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Discovery Sport:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

Discovery Sport

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl. (237 HP)

21 city/25 hwy

2.0 turbo 4-cyl. (286 HP)

20 city/25 hwy

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the Discovery Sport.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Discovery Sport:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

Discovery Sport

Discovery Sport 286 HP

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

The Explorer ST’s optional front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Discovery Sport are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Discovery Sport (255/65R18 vs. 235/60R18). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Discovery Sport (275/45R21 vs. 245/45R20).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer ST/Platinum offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Discovery Sport’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Discovery Sport’s suspension doesn’t offer rear gas-charged shocks.

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 11.2 inches longer than on the Discovery Sport (119.1 inches vs. 107.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 3.1 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Discovery Sport.

Chassis

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has .6 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, 4.4 inches more front shoulder room, 1.8 inches more rear headroom and 5.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Discovery Sport.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Discovery Sport.

Explorer

Discovery Sport

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

6.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

34.6 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

62.8 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Discovery Sport’s in every dimension:

Explorer

Discovery Sport

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

n.a./38.8”/74.3”

Max Width

59”

51.8”

Min Width

48.1”

43.5”

Height

33.7”

29.6”

The Explorer and the Discovery Sport with 5+2 Seating have standard second row automatic folding seats. The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s third row seats also fold up or down at the press of a button. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer automatic folding third row seats.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Explorer. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Land Rover Discovery Sport is limited to 4409 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Discovery Sport. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its InControl can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Explorer has standard extendable sun visors. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Explorer is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Discovery Sport doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Land Rover Discovery Sport by almost 22 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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