Competition of Seven-Seaters: Which One to Buy?

Land Rover Discovery and the fifth-generation Ford Explorer have always been the most popular options for those considering a used seven-seat SUV. Which car is preferable? The Indy Auto Man used car experts offer a comprehensive comparison of these competitors.

Not that Discovery

Land Rover Discovery and Ford Explorer in the fifth generation are no longer relatives. The third and fourth gens are built, in fact, on the same platform, while the current one is completely different. The Discovery 5 was introduced in 2016. To create it, they used all the technologies and innovative solutions available, and the main task was to update the design and introduce modern security systems. The development process began in 2010 when Jaguar Land Rover initiated work on a new platform that became the basis for the Discovery. As a result of the successful cooperation of the British with engineers from India and China, a base was created that became revolutionary for the Discovery, and, according to the manufacturer, uncompromisingly combines high cross-country ability and comfortable driving on the highway. One of the key features of the Discovery 5 is a load-bearing body and the presence of three rows of seats, which made it possible to carry up to seven passengers. And the equipment includes modern driver assistance systems, such as blind spot monitoring and automatic parking.

Renewed Explorer

Ford Explorer (U502) was introduced in 2011 as a completely new model, and its updated version appeared in 2019. At the same time, the development process began in 2006, when Ford started work on a new design and improved technical characteristics. One of the main tasks was to improve fuel efficiency and environmental standards. For this, aerodynamics have been improved, the frame has been replaced with a monocoque, and at the same time, the SUV received a new line of EcoBoost engines, providing impressive power with small displacements. In addition, the new Explorer has improved management and security. The car is equipped with automatic braking, stability control, and parking assistance systems.

In general, both SUVs were created according to the requirements of the modern market and the preferences of buyers looking for comfort, safety, and economy in one car.

Diversity of motors

In the power line of SUVs, there is one very similar engine – 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline. Land Rover has about 300 hp, while Ford has 240. In addition, the Briton has a more modern eight-speed automatic transmission, compared to the Explorer’s six-speed one, which explains its advantage in dynamics and economy. Land Rover Discovery 5 accelerates to sixty in 8.1 seconds and consumes about 12 liters by the passport data, while the Ford Explorer accelerates in 8.7 seconds and consumes 11.5 liters per sixty miles.

Only Land Rover can boast diesel engines, and there is plenty to choose from a two-liter Ingenium with a capacity of 240 hp and a torque of 500 Nm or the classic 3.0-liter V6, known as the Discovery 4. Both have proven themselves well but are demanding maintenance, the quality of fuel, and service fluids.

But Ford boasts a whole bunch of gasoline engines, including a special one for the police interceptor, which, with a volume of 3.7 liters, produces 305 hp. In this engine, as well as other V-shaped six-cylinders from Ford (3.5 and 3.7 Cyclone (Duratec), 3.5 EcoBoost), the cooling system pump is removed behind the front engine cover and is driven by a timing chain. This is the weak link in generally reliable motors. The function of the intermediate gear of the timing chain is assigned to the drive of the cooling system pump, which kills it. The destruction of the support bearings of the cooling system pump shaft leads to the axis displacement of the intermediate timing gear. As a result, the valve timing loses, which in turn causes the valves to meet the pistons.


Both vehicles are declared as SUVs with all-wheel drive. True, not all versions of the Explorer have it, and in this case, it is better not to dream of good off-road capability. In addition, Discovery has not only permanent all-wheel drive and a reduction gear in the transfer case but also a more advanced set of driving modes – Terrain Response of the second generation, which, in cooperation with air suspension, provides a more comfortable ride off the asphalt.

The reliability of the Land Rover air suspension has long ceased to be a reason for scoffing. On the contrary, now it is a reason for pride. As for the Explorer chassis, everything is simple there, and the elements fail predictably: not earlier than after a hundred of thousand miles, starting with inexpensive stabilizer struts.

Travel for pleasure

Both cars are designed not so much for work but for entertainment and travel. They offer spacious and comfortable interiors with high-quality finishing materials and well-adjusted ergonomics. The Discovery has a more thoughtful and stylish interior, as well as richer equipment. For example, Land Rover options include a panoramic roof, a surround-view camera, a blind spot monitoring system, parking assistance, and much more. In addition, it has a larger trunk, although both SUVs are equally spacious for passengers.

What to Choose?

Both SUVs have their weaknesses and require careful professional maintenance and quality parts.

  • The Land Rover Discovery suffers from electronic failures, less often air suspension, turbine, radiators, and fuel system.
  • The Ford Explorer may have problems with the gearbox, torque converter, steering rack, suspension, and power doors. The cost of repairs and maintenance is quite high, but the Discovery is still more expensive to operate.

Both can satisfy the needs of most buyers, although the Land Rover Discovery 5 has a higher level of comfort, status, dynamics, and maneuverability than the Explorer. It also costs more, with higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Ford pleases with a dynamic, sporty design; it is more reliable and affordable when buying used.

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