L.A. Auto Show: Land Rover rolls out Discovery Sport compact SUV

Land Rover has come to the Los Angeles Auto Show with a vehicle likely to do well here — a “versatile premium compact SUV” dubbed the Discovery Sport.

Designed to be the first in a series of Discovery vehicles, the Sport seats seven and is outfitted with a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, connected to all-wheel drive by a nine-speed automatic transmission.


Likely to be on sale in early 2015, the Sport starts at $37,995.

Introducing the new machine to enthusiastic applause at an afternoon session, the company's Gerry McGovern called the Discovery Sport "refined, agile and composed," with an interior that is "premium but not precious."

"Having lived and worked here, I truly believe this vehicle is perfect for the American consumer," McGovern said.

Standard on the Sport are a new 8-inch, touchscreen "infotainment" system, "leather-appointed" seating and interior color options with alluring names like Ebony, Cirrus, Ivory, Almond and Tan.

Paddle shifters for manual use of the nine-speed transmission are also standard, as are four power points for charging electronic devices, dual-zone climate control and an air conditioning system smart enough to switch to recirculation mode if it senses high pollution levels.

The engine produces 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, Land Rover says.

The Sport is being pitched as a "dual personality" vehicle, equally at home on the road or off.  Standard equipment includes long-travel suspension and engine air intakes above the wheel wells — to allow for water crossings.

Outfitted with the company's "Terrain Response" system, the Sport can scale 45-degree grades, in part using a battery of off-road technologies that help the driver maintain control on steep descents, uneven surfaces and in muddy or sandy conditions.

Options include a headrest-mounted iPod, a center armrest-based cooler/food warmer, and a vast array of personalization choices on wheels, colors, sun roofs and undershields for extra off-road protection.

The Sport also offers an array of optional driver-assist options, including a lane departure warning system, an autonomous parking system and a traffic sign recognition function that can detect speed limits and remind the driver of them.

The vehicle comes with an optional "Autonomous Emergency Braking" system that uses stereo, front-facing cameras that can detect an impending collision. The system will give the driver an audible alert, and then apply full braking automatically if the driver fails to respond.

Standard are trailer-assist technology that uses automatic braking to correct any instability of a vehicle under tow and a useful-sounding "tow assist" feature that uses a camera to help drivers with the sometimes-complicated task of backing up while towing a trailer.

Also standard are rain-sensitive windshield wipers that activate autonomously, a cool feature that probably won't get much use in these parts.

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