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Land Rover Discovery 3 & 4: What are the Differences?

When a car like the Land Rover Discovery is updated, its specification may be adjusted to reflect the latest market trends. And however much this may represent an improvement on paper, there will likely still be some customers who found the old model better suited to their needs. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some Land Rover Discovery 3 and 4 differences which should be taken into account when buying on the used market.

The Land Rover Discovery 3 was a completely new vehicle when it was introduced in 2004, as it shared no components with previous generations. While more comfortable than the utilitarian Defender, the Disco 1 and 2 models had still been very basic as far as on road performance and equipment levels were concerned. The Discovery 3 set about addressing the criticisms of those who felt it should move up market toward its Range Rover sibling. Big leaps were made in terms of ride, performance and electronics. Innovative air suspension and terrain response systems were available, making the car more useable in any context.

Land Rover Discovery Model Differences

Five years later, the company sought to improve on these features. The Land Rover Discovery 4 was therefore the most road-friendly and stylish Disco to date, without losing its all-terrain credentials and seven seat capability. What are the Land Rover Discovery model differences which might prompt you to choose one or the other?


Most Discovery 3s were produced with grey plastic bumpers and wheel arches. This is great if you spend a lot of time off road and need bodywork which will be easy to clean, or replace if it gets damaged. But if you spend more time in supermarket car parks than in country parks, the Disco 4 with its body coloured trim might fit your image better.


The D4 has much improved equipment over the D3, like a full colour dash screen and better seats. This made it more comfortable on long journeys.


The 2.7L TDV6 which powered most Discovery 3 examples was fine for pottering up and down farm tracks, but the 3.0L version which came in some (but not all) Discovery 4 cars offered more power and better fuel economy for road journeys. Of course, if you want a fast one you can always go for a V8. An 8-speed automatic gearbox was offered in the D4 alongside the existing 6-speeds.

Discovery 3 vs Discovery 4

Critically, many people see the Discovery 4 facelift as the moment the model went from being a robust, utilitarian family car to entering the semi-premium SUV category, positioned in the range between the desirable Range Rover models and the Freelander ‘soft-roader’. While the actual physical differences between the two versions may be slight, the subtle shift in focus between the two generations may make all the difference in terms of ownership experience, depending on what you want to do with the car. The Discovery 3 makes a great enthusiast’s 4x4, while the Discovery 4 is more suited to long-distance on-road driving, provided you’re prepared to spend a little more. Both make good family cars, although the later model is smoother and better equipped.

However, there is one final factor to consider when weighing up Discovery 3 vs Discovery 4 advantages and disadvantages. All Land Rovers have historically been popular platforms for customisation, and these models are no different. By taking advantage of the wealth of high-quality upgrades and accessories available, an owner can spec their car to meet their specific needs. At Dirt Monkey Offroad, we produce and supply some of the best parts available for the Disco 3 & 4 models, so why not get in touch with us to discuss what you want from your vehicle? And by taking advantage of our professional fitting service, it’s never been easier to achieve the Land Rover Discovery you’ve always wanted.

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