Land Rover trailer parking app: first test

Land Rover trailer parking app: first test
Land Rover trailer parking app: first test

If you need to park a trailer in a hurry without looking like a clot, best get a new Land Rover Discovery

There’s a four in five chance a Land Rover Discovery will, at some point in its life, tow something behind it. And to make reverse-parking these trailers, horseboxes or caravans easier, Land Rover has invented a trick new app called Advanced Tow Assist.

The nondescript name does it an injustice. This is actually one of the coolest things you can buy on the new Discovery. Tick the option box and you will become the king of the Caravan Club pitching-up party.

It’s not actually entirely new tech. Land Rover has offered Tow Assist since 2010. That used the colour infotainment screen to display trajectory lines on the screen when reversing with a trailer – the car’s trajectory was coloured in yellow and the trailer was depicted in pink. Owners were never again flummoxed by the counter-logic of backing up a caravan.

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Now, with the ‘Advanced’ addition, Land Rover has taken the logical next step. It’s automated the car bit, so the driver can concentrate on steering the trailer. And to prove how well it works, Land Rover gave us a Discovery hitched up to a 22-foot Airstream caravan, and told us to reverse-park it around a curve.

You pull up the Terrain Response 2 dial to prime it, and confirm you want to use it with a jab of the touchscreen. This brings up a split-screen display, that’s similar to before, but only contains pink ‘trailer’ lines. The yellow ‘car’ lines have disappeared. It now drives itself autonomously.

And here’s the magic bit. You use the Terrain Response dial itself to steer the trailer. Stare at the screen, decide where you want your caravan, and twiddle the dial accordingly: the car will self-steer to grant your wishes. Sure, you’re controlling the pedals, but it still feels other-worldly.

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It’s amazing in practice, watching the steering wheel whipping around of its own accord as you steer a big 22-foot Airstream trailer with your fingertips. You can’t fox it, either: if you want to do something that would end up in trailer and car jack-knifing, an alarm sounds. All it needs to know beforehand, in order to calibrate itself, is what you’re towing – caravan, horsebox, boat and so on.

There’s one other piece of magic necessary. Sticking a tracking target to the front of the trailer, which can be watched by the reversing camera. That’s how the system can do all its processing.

Believe us, this is clever tech. OK, it’s not new – the Audi Q7 offers a variation of the setup – bit it’s still incredible. The perfect example of where autonomous technology becomes a must-have option rather than an irrelevance.

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