In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender review

The Land Rover Defender is superbly designed, exceptionally well-engineered and still retains its famous go-anywhere ability.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

  • Off-road ability
  • Still supremely practical
  • Plug-in hybrid version
  • Expensive to buy
  • Some wind noise at higher speeds
  • Running costs

Land Rover has silenced the doubters and produced a Defender worthy of the famous name. It’s clearly a more modern and luxurious car than before, but the Defender has lost none of its ability to tackle whatever conditions are thrown its way. 

Customers can be reassured that, alongside the Defender’s core attributes, there’s a level of refinement that will make tackling the urban jungle just as effortless as the steepest of slopes or the muddiest of fields. 

You’ll have to pay handsomely for the privilege and there are all kinds of other rivals to consider - none though possess that unique sense of cool and personality that comes with a Defender. It’s a car we wholeheartedly recommend.

About the Land Rover Defender

The iconic Defender 4x4 has been reinvented, with an up-to-date, modern take on the original Landie that began life over 70 years ago. With ever-improving safety standards and increasingly tough emissions testing, it was inevitable that the old Defender would be retired, although it has given Land Rover the chance to show-off the best of its talents in producing an all-new model.

The new Defender meets the high demands of those after a supremely practical and capable workhorse, while also offering enough comfort, refinement and on-board tech to interest customers looking for a premium SUV.

This wide range of abilities means that the competition for the new Defender is interesting and diverse, with various models offering a mixture of practical capability and their own brand of high-riding, SUV style. Off-road rivals such as the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes G-Class have been around for quite a while, but come from opposite ends of the price spectrum. 

There are also more rustic challengers in the form of the Toyota Land Cruiser, Subaru Forester and Ssangyong Rexton, while some customers could be attracted to the luxury-bias of the BMW X5, Volvo XC90 and the Volkswagen Touareg

The choices don’t stop there, as there’s also the various double-cab pick-ups currently on sale, such as the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, which deliver 4x4 ability and a more car-like driving experience than you’d expect. Land Rover will also be all too aware of the Discovery model potentially stealing sales from its newer sibling.

Defender customers have a choice of either the three-door Defender 90, or five-door Defender 110 models, with prices starting from around £44,000. Commercial Hard Top versions are also available, while a bigger 130 model with extra load capacity will be introduced later.

There are three diesel engines on offer for the Defender 90: the D200, D240 and D300 with 197bhp, 237bhp and 296bhp, respectively. The 110 variant substitutes the 2.0-litre D240 engine for the more powerful 3.0-litre, six-cylinder D250 with 247bhp.

Petrol cars include the 296bhp P300 and 394bhp P400, while a petrol plug-in hybrid unit for the 110 model, the 398bhp P400e, delivers improved economy and lower CO2 emissions. An eight-speed auto transmission is standard across the range.

Trim levels move from entry-level Defender though to S, SE and HSE. There’s also an opportunity to upgrade to the X-Dynamic equipment line, which is followed by top-spec X versions and First Edition cars.

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