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Mid-size Premium SUV of the Year 2021: Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender is the Auto Express 2021 Mid-size Premium SUV of the Year with the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace commended

Land Rover Defender - header

The Land Rover Defender stunned us when it launched last year and it continues to be a class-leading premium SUV in 2021. In 90 form it’s a brilliantly characterful model, and it offers even more space and flexibility in longer-wheelbase 110 guise.

The Defender is surprisingly affordable in its lesser trim levels, but these versions simply represent strong value rather than feeling in any way lacking. And while the Land Rover Defender is bursting with personality that makes it stand out from the crowd, it doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury to do so. It’s high in quality and, with five, six and seven-seat configurations available, versatile too.

The Defender’s incredible off-road ability is a big part of that – you get the sense it would never be caught out, and we’ve seen first hand how capable it is. The technology it uses, such as ClearSight Ground View, isn’t just useful for desert dunes and fording rivers; you can use it for parking in a tight spot, too.

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There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options, with Land Rover offering a mix of bodystyles and powertrains to suit many lifestyles. Company car buyers will be pleased to see the PHEV’s low tax costs, but anyone can benefit from its more affordable fuel costs in the right circumstances.

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The interior is unrecognisable from the classic model’s because it’s comfortable and modern-looking, plus the tech is bang up to date. The infotainment is excellent, too – an area where Land Rover has missed the mark in the past.

There’s still a sense of character and pragmatism inside, and it’s really practical – so despite the new look, the Defender remains a rugged and useful car that works both on and off-road.

Best deal

Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE (£61,955)

The longer-wheelbase 110 is more practical than the 90 model, so it’s the one we’d choose. The six-cylinder D300 diesel in SE trim is a sweet spot in the range; go for a three-year PCP deal with a £7,000 deposit and you’ll be paying £851 per month.

Commended 

BMW X3

BMW X3

An updated BMW X3 has just been revealed, but the current model is still commended here because it remains ahead of most of its rivals, thanks to its mix of practicality, handling, efficiency and performance. It’s well equipped too, and comfortable even on bumpy roads.

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Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace

The Jaguar F-Pace took on some meaningful updates recently and it’s now right up there with the best when it comes to tech. This was its main drawback before, so with its enjoyable handling, good comfort, practical interior and smart looks, the F-Pace is a strong choice.

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