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.

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.

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.

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.

New Car Awards 2021: the winners

Special edition of Auto Express

For the full experience, make sure you pick up a copy of our special New Car Awards collectors' edition of the Auto Express magazine, which is available in shops now.

Auto Express Issue 1,685

You can buy individual issues of Auto Express or subscribe for even bigger discounts on the magazine cover price. You can currently Subscribe and get 6 issues for just £1 or download our digital edition direct to your desktop, phone or tablet.

Partnership
Need to sell your car?
Find your best offer from over 5,000+ dealers. It’s that easy.

Recommended

Land Rover Defender review
Land Rover Defender - front tracking
In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender review

Land Rover has aced the latest Defender, which combines rugged go-anywhere ability with new levels of civility
22 Sep 2023
Fashion designer cars: when haute couture and automotive collide
Land Rover Defender by Paul Smith
Features

Fashion designer cars: when haute couture and automotive collide

From Lamborghini to Land Rover, car makers are always keen to work with fashion houses and style icons, producing some interesting results
19 Sep 2023
Top 10 best cars for dog owners to buy 2023
Best cars for dog owners - header
Best cars & vans

Top 10 best cars for dog owners to buy 2023

Our dogs deserve the best, so here are the cars that’ll keep their tails wagging.
29 Aug 2023
JLR Defender Sport: new ‘baby’ Land Rover Defender on the cards
Land Rover Defender Sport exclusive image
News

JLR Defender Sport: new ‘baby’ Land Rover Defender on the cards

JLR looks set to launch a smaller, more affordable electric 4x4 that could be badged Defender Sport.
18 Aug 2023

Most Popular

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost
Jaguar XF Sportbrake - front tracking
Road tests

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost

Jaguar's XF Sportbrake may be 8 years old but it just got a whole lot cheaper!
7 Dec 2023
New Nissan Qashqai to get radical look and all-electric power
Nissan Qashqai exclusive image - front
News

New Nissan Qashqai to get radical look and all-electric power

Major investment in Nissan’s Sunderland plant underpins the new fourth-generation Qashqai
8 Dec 2023
Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month
Volkswagen ID. Buzz - front cornering
News

Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month

All-electric MPV offers style and substance - making it our Deal of the Day for Wednesday 6 December
6 Dec 2023