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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.
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, 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-cylinder produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (269 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s 3.5 DOHC V6. The Discovery Sport P290’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder hybrid produces 32 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s 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.
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 front brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander:
The Discovery Sport’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander L/LE/XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The Discovery Sport’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Highlander 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 20-inches.
The Discovery Sport has a standard full size spare (not available on 7-Passenger) 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 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.
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 1 foot, 1.9 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 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 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’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.
The Discovery Sport’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to 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 HSE offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in 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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