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In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender - MPG, CO2 and running costs

No amount of hybrid technology makes the Land Rover Defender anything other than expensive to run

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

MPG, CO2 and running costs Rating

3.9 out of 5

Price
£48,695 to £120,020
  • 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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With such a bluff, upright profile and overall weight on the wrong side of two tonnes, the Defender isn’t going to be crossing continents on a single tank of fuel. Land Rover has added mild-hybrid tech to its 3.0-litre diesel engine to help improve efficiency, while there’s also the petrol plug-in hybrid to consider – although the high list price for that model may well deter some.

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Choose any of the diesel-engined variants and the official average economy sits at around 33mpg. However, CO2 emissions are relatively high at over 220g/km.

The P425 petrol in the 90 bodystyle only gets 20.2mpg combined on the WLTP test cycle, and emissions of 316g/km. The plug-in hybrid P300e in the 110 body style is able to return 103.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 62g/km.

Unsurprisingly, the P500 and P525 V8 petrol engines are the least efficient options in the Defender range, capable of averaging around 20mpg at best in mixed driving conditions. What's more, CO2 emissions can average 329g/km.

The Defender is one of only a few plug-in hybrid cars sold in the UK with the ability to rapid charge, so if you find an up to 50kW charger, you can refill a flat battery in just 30 minutes. That’s quite an expensive way of fuelling the Defender, so most will do it via a 7kW wallbox charger at home using cheaper overnight electricity. Doing it this way will take about two and a half hours. 

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If you can justify the relatively short 30-mile electric range of the plug-in P300e hybrid, then you may see some decent overall fuel economy numbers if you regularly charge it up and stick to short trips. However, when we lived with a P400e over nearly 13,000 miles, we averaged only 30mpg, which is close to what you’d expect from a diesel Defender – and that’s much cheaper to buy in the first place. 

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Company car drivers paying Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax may benefit from its low average emissions of 59g/km. However, many alternatives, such as the BMW X5 xDrive50e, are in a much lower eight per cent band (at least until 2025). Then there is the all-electric seven-seat Kia EV9 to consider, offering much more space inside than a Defender, but costing even less per month.

Insurance groups

Premiums are going to be expensive for the Defender. Even the most basic Defender – a three-door 90 with the D250 engine – sits in insurance group 38 (out of 50), while the range-topping, V8 falls into the highest insurance band.

There have been some historic issues with Land Rover owners getting insurance coverage for their cars, although the brand has been working hard on ways to improve theft resistance.

You can get personalised car insurance quotes fast with our comparison tool powered by Quotezone...

Depreciation

On the plus side, Defender owners will benefit from good residual values when the time comes to sell. Our latest expert data suggests that the Defender 90 retains the most value over a typical three-year/36,000-mile ownership period, between 55 to 69 per cent. The 110 is the next best, between 57 to 66 per cent, while the 130 is likely to lose the most, being worth between 48 to 60 per cent over the same ownership period.

That’s much better than the BMW X5, which will only maintain between 40 to 59 per cent of its value over the same period.

To get an accurate valuation on a specific model check out our valuation tool...

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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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