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In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender - Interior, design and technology

Impressively designed, well-equipped and with the latest on-board tech, the Land Rover Defender is a thoroughly modern 4x4

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.2 out of 5

Price
£57,685 to £120,665
  • Off-road ability
  • Still supremely practical
  • Plug-in hybrid version
  • Expensive to buy
  • Some wind noise at higher speeds
  • Running costs
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Land Rover has done a great job bringing the Defender into the 21st century. There’s a nod to the previous model regarding the overall look, but make no mistake, this 4x4 is definitely at the cutting edge in terms of off-road ability and on-board tech.

The proportions mimic the old-Defender, but everything is bigger, chunkier and designed with function in mind. Inside, there are exposed screw heads, powder-coated aluminium surfaces, a magnesium bulkhead, strips of body-coloured metal, and even a moulded rubber floor covering that’s designed to be washable. While it’s not the usual Land Rover level of luxury, it brings a unique utilitarian look to the cabin that’s very cool, yet it feels just as well screwed together as anything else on sale, and has enough soft-touch materials in all the right places to maintain a premium ambience.

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Standard equipment for the S trim includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated seats and power-folding door mirrors. Stepping up to X-Dynamic SE adds privacy glass and a black contrasting roof, along with silver exterior trim, while X-Dynamic HSE trim adds a heated steering wheel, fancier matrix LED headlights, and a panoramic glass sunroof. High-end X models feature additional trim upgrades in the cabin, along with a black-coloured roof and bonnet, Windsor leather seats, a 700w version of the Meridian sound system with an additional four speakers and a head-up display.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

JLR's Pivi Pro infotainment system is the slickest we’ve yet seen from the firm, and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity as standard. The system allows for over-the-air software updates, which is something we found particularly useful when we ran a Defender 110 P400e, saving us from having to take a trip to the dealer. Entry-level models are fitted with a 10-inch touchscreen, while higher-end X-Dynamic HSE and above versions get a 11.4-inch display. The bigger screen also comes standard in the Defender 130.

We’ve found the system to have a reliable phone connection and swift response times. We’d still prefer to have physical buttons, or a dial, like the iDrive system used BMW, but at least the screen in the Defender is easier to operate than most rivals' infotainment systems – particularly the fiddly screen the XC90 uses.

In addition to the Pivi Pro infotainment setup, entry-level Defenders feature Land Rover’s Connected Navigation Pro, a 400W Meridian audio system with 10 speakers and an online data plan. Wireless phone charging remains an option on most models as part of the Comfort and Convenience pack, and only becomes standard on the priciest V8 models.

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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