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Both the Discovery Sport and Highlander have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Discovery Sport has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Highlander’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Discovery Sport. But it costs extra on the Highlander.
Compared to metal, the Discovery Sport’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.
Both the Discovery Sport and the Highlander 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The Discovery Sport comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
The Discovery Sport’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Highlander’s (6 vs. 5 years).
The Discovery Sport’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 61 more horsepower (246 vs. 185) and 85 lbs.-ft. more torque (269 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The Discovery Sport’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (269 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6. The Discovery Sport P290’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. hybrid produces 32 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.
Regenerative brakes improve the Discovery Sport’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Highlander doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
Regardless of its engine, the Discovery Sport’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Toyota only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Land Rover Discovery Sport, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.
For better stopping power the Discovery Sport’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander:
The Discovery Sport’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Discovery Sport offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.
The Discovery Sport offers an optional full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Highlander, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.
The Discovery Sport has standard front gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The Discovery Sport offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The Discovery Sport has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Discovery Sport S handles at .82 G’s, while the Highlander LE pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Discovery Sport S executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander LE (27.4 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).
For greater off-road capability the Discovery Sport has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander (8.3 vs. 8 inches), allowing the Discovery Sport to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The Discovery Sport is 11.5 inches shorter than the Highlander, making the Discovery Sport easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Discovery Sport with 5+2 Seating’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The Discovery Sport’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (4409 vs. 1500 pounds).
The Discovery Sport uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The Discovery Sport has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Highlander doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.
The Discovery Sport has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Highlander Limited/Platinum, the Discovery Sport (except Base) offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The Discovery Sport offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Discovery Sport’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Highlander’s parking brake has to released manually.
The power windows standard on both the Discovery Sport and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Discovery Sport is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The Discovery Sport’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Highlander’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.
If the windows are left open on the Discovery Sport the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Discovery Sport’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The Discovery Sport offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Highlander doesn’t offer headlight washers.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Discovery Sport HSE/HSE Luxury offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Highlander doesn’t offer cornering lights.
When the Discovery Sport with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Discovery Sport offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Discovery Sport has a standard dual zone air-conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air-conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.
The Discovery Sport’s optional Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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