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In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender - Practicality, comfort and boot space

The Land Rover Defender is arguably the ultimate 4x4, with comfort and refinement now on a different level

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Practicality, comfort and boot space Rating

4.5 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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The Land Rover Defender is brilliantly practical, including basics like the useful central storage bin, deep door pockets, and even a fridge can be fitted under the centre armrest of some models. There’s also the usual generous supply of cup holders, power outlets and air vents around the cabin. All versions besides the S get full electric front seat controls with memory settings, so you can easily find the most comfortable position.

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The boxy proportions of the Defender mean it's easy to see the corners of the car and judge where to place it on the road, but all models come with an advanced 360-degree 3D surround camera – something you have to pay extra for on a BMW X5 – for a little extra help when parking. There are also clever touches to help you with towing, with the on-board cameras assisting you in lining up a trailer, while the air suspension can raise and lower to make hitching up easier.

The ClearSight system is another handy addition for Defender drivers and comes with Mirror or Ground functions. The rear-view mirror can be used normally, but is also able to display a rear-facing camera feed when either rear passengers or a tall item in the boot is blocking your view through the rear window. The central touchscreen can be used to relay footage from the numerous cameras on the outside of the car, so you can see what's beneath and just in front of the vehicle – invaluable when off-roading.

Size

There’s no disguising that the Defender is a big 4x4. The three-door 90 model is 4,583mm long (including the spare wheel at the rear) and 2,008mm wide with the side mirrors folded-in. It stands 1,974mm tall, with the 110 version just a touch lower at 1,967mm. The five-door variant is unsurprisingly longer at 5,018mm, although overall width is the same as its smaller sibling. The even longer Defender 130, measures 5,358mm in length – more than 10cm longer than the flagship Range Rover luxury SUV and far longer than a Mercedes G-Class.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

There’s plenty of room upfront in the cabin of every Defender, though rear cabin space varies depending on the model you get. There’s very little space in the rear of the Defender 90, and because it's only a three-door, access to the back seats isn’t the easiest. The front seats fold and slide forward, but the left gap isn’t the largest – plus, it feels like a mountain climbing expedition every time you have to haul yourself aboard.

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As you'd expect, there's much more room in the back seats of the Defender 110, which are also easier to access thanks to the additional doors. If you want, you can specify an extra seat between the driver and front passenger in the 110 model to make it a six-seater, or add a further two seats in the boot to make it a seven-seater – strangely, you can’t combine the two options to make yourself an eight-seater. If you do get the seven-seater 110, the second row comes with a sliding function, so you can give taller passengers in the third row a bit more leg room. 

The Defender 130 puts most MPVs to shame, with its extra length allowing for two rows of three seats behind the driver and front passenger seat, for a total of eight occupants. These are arranged with a slight ‘stadium-style’ increase in height for a good view out, and there’s even a second sunroof above the third row.

Every version comes with ISOFIX child seat tethering points on the outermost positions of the second row.

Boot

The three-door Defender 90 has a 297-litre boot, which is actually smaller than a Vauxhall Corsa and much smaller than the 356-litres provided behind the third row of a Volvo XC90. If you need to carry longer items, dropping the rear seats gives you 1,263 litres to play with.

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The Defender 110 offers a more generous amount of boot space, which should be enough for most families. If you get the five-seater 110, there's 786 litres of space on offer behind the rear seats, and 1,875 litres with them down. Plug-in hybrid versions of the 110 offer slightly less luggage capacity because of the battery located under the boot floor, reducing the available boot space to 696 litres with all five seats in place and 1,759 litres with the rear seats folded away.

Opt for the seven-seater version of the 110 and there's 160 litres with all three rows of seats in place, 743 litres with two rows in the upright position and the same 1,875 litres with all but the front seats stowed in the floor.

The eight-seater Defender 130’s boot isn't that much bigger. There's 290 litres of space available even with all eight seats in place, and if you fold the second and third rows down there’s close to 1,900 litres on offer. For those who prefer luggage space, a five-seat 130 is also available, boosting ultimate boot space even further to nearly 2,100 litres.

Towing

Customers will be reassured that the Defender remains a supreme towing machine.  Most versions have a maximum towing limit of 3,500kg, although the plug-in hybrid and heavy Defender 130 have a reduced braked trailer towing rating of 3,000kg. In either case, that’s a lot more than the 2,700kg capacity of the best-performing BMW X5 xDrive50e.

The Towing Pack includes an electrically deployable tow bar, and the 13-pin electric point is located within easy reach. You can also add an Advanced Tow Assist function where you can use the rotary dial from the Terrain Response system to steer the vehicle in reverse. Pull the dial up while reversing, and you can steer the car and caravan/trailer using the moving directional arrows on the screen that shows where the car will go. We think that’ll be helpful for those who struggle with this task.

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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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