Pros: Great driving position, stable ride and cornering, genteel curb appeal, good character
Cons: GAS GUZZLER, hard to get in/out of, poor turning radius, too tall for urban living
I purchased a 2003 Discovery SD, the base model, and added a front sunroof and CD changer. It comes standard with vinyl, power adjustable seats (cannot tell the difference from LR leather) and although it lacks some of the amenities of the SE model, I drove them both, and really don't miss anything (although I like the wheels on the SE better). The car is quirky, needless to say, and I can understand why some may not like it. But I do.
The driving position is impressive as the car is taller and has more glass than even other SUVs and now when I drive one of our other cars, I feel vulnerable and low to the ground. The cabin feels airy, but not overly spacious like a Chevy Tahoe. However, the car is difficult to get in and out of, both front and back seats.
One thing to understand is this is a truck. It drives like a truck and if you are looking for a car-like experience, you will not be happy with the Disco. It feels like a tank - a good or bad thing depending on the driver. It is not particularly luxurious, but then again, the car was never intended to be the status symbol it has become. It was made for the safari, pulling horse trailers and driving off road. The ride is somewhat rough, especially going over speed bumps or road dips. Interior fit and finish is cheap. Turning radius is horrible, although better in the 2004 model. I had previously driven a Mercedes with an amazing turning radius, so it was a difficult adjustment - ie, takes 2 shots to get into a parking spot. You get used to it.
I find the engine power to be adequate, but I do all city driving. Gas mileage is embarrassing (average 12-15) and I do feel guilty sometimes for the trauma it causes to the environment. The gas tank is also difficult to get to requiring you to put the pump in some akward positions. I think the car corners well and there is little sway and that is without the Active Cornering System standard on the SE and HSE models. The Disco's limitations are incentive for me to drive slower and more responsibly, so I look at them as benefits.
The car is very tall - taller than most SUVs. In fact, during my first week of ownership, I scraped the roof in a parking garage. They don't warn you of its akward height. Check the height limitations - its 6' 4.5"
My car has only 4k miles on it and has been in the shop once for recall-related maintenance and some other small things that did not work. The remote alarm has problems, and they don't seem to be able to fix it. Service at my dealership in LA is not very good. They seem competent, but I don't sense much of the Land Rover experience, and I dread going.
Interior buttons are annoying, akwardly positioned and hard to push. Electronics (like windows are slow and motors are loud) are not very sophisticated. Stereo is not bad. On the SE/HSE, there is a bass speaker attached to rear door, and it makes the back door vibrate.
I got a great deal on my car - $29900, so I can overlook all of its idiosynchrasies. Compare it to a Ford Explorer for the same price, its a no brainer in my book. The car feels very dated, but it is and will be replaced by the LR3 soon.
I like the unique character and can forgive its faults. If you like Saabs or Volvos, this will be a good fit.