Land Rover Defender Review
The Land Rover Defender is a tough SUV that blends off-road ability, luxury and style. Here’s all you need to know about buying one
Strengths & weaknesses
The Land Rover Defender shares its name with a previous Land Rover model known for its off-road prowess and rugged simplicity, but this new model is a totally different car. It’s still a serious off-roader but it now has everything you would expect of a modern upmarket SUV - and more.
It’s a 4x4 with chunky looks that hint back to the original Defender, but hop inside and there’s nothing else to link it to the old-fashioned model. It’s a luxurious, high-end car with loads of space, comfortable seats and lots of modern in-car tech.
The previous Defender was a rival for rugged cars such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler and Subaru Forester, but this new Defender is more like upmarket SUVs such as the Volvo XC90, BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg. Yet it has not lost any of its ability to deal with really rough terrain.
It’s a very appealing car but there are so many versions that it can be hard to choose between them. Read on to find out more about the Land Rover Defender including the technical details, specification highlights and which one is best for you, including 90 and 110 variants, and petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power options.
Should I get a Land Rover Defender?
✔ Very practical and great off-road
✔ Enjoyable to drive
✔ High quality interior with plenty of tech
✘ Quite expensive to buy
✘ High running costs
✘ Wind noise on the motorway
The Land Rover Defender is an incredibly good all-round car, the only real drawback being that it’s quite expensive to buy and run. It’s good to drive, comfortable, has loads of room inside, the interior is excellent, there’s lots of in-car tech, it’s fantastic off-road and there is a wide choice of engines.
The plug-in hybrid model offers lower running costs if you’re able to plug in regularly at home, but there’s also a diesel option for those doing more miles and standard petrol versions as well. The Defender is also available in 90 and 110 forms, offering extra interior space for carrying people and/or luggage in the longer 110 model.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best Land Rover Defender for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
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Land Rover Defender 90
The Land Rover Defender comes in two main body styles, 90 and 110. These numbers are linked to the previous version of the Defender and simply refer to the size of the car - the 90 is the shorter version with three doors (two side doors and one at the back).
The 90 model is available with four engines. The first is the D250, which is a 3.0-litre diesel engine with 249hp, and this comes in HSE, X-Dynamic SE and X-Dynamic HSE trim levels.
Then there’s the D300, which is a more powerful version of this engine with 300hp. It comes in X trim only. The P400 is next, which is a petrol engine with 400hp, available in XS Edition and X trim levels.
Finally there’s the V8 version, which has a potent 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine with 525hp. It comes in V8 and Carpathian Edition trim levels. All versions have an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Land Rover Defender 110
The 110 version has five doors - two on each side and one at the back - and it’s also available in more configurations than the 90. It’s the only model available with the P400e plug-in hybrid option (see below), but it’s also available with all the same engines as the 90.
As for trim levels, there are even more options with the 110 version - SE, HSE, X-Dynamic S, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, X and XS Edition specifications are all available here, plus V8 and Carpathian Edition on the 5.0-litre V8 model.
Land Rover Defender PHEV
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Defender is called the P400e. It uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine plus an electric motor for a total of 404hp, plus it can drive for 27 miles on electric power alone, provided you start with a full charge.
Economy is claimed to come in at 75mpg, but don’t expect to acheive this unless you charge up every day and make the most of the electric power available.
|S||Limited stock: All versions of the Defender including the entry-level S come with LED lights, 18-inch wheels, all-season tyres, heated seats, an 11.4-inch touchscreen media system, smartphone connectivity, a 360-degree parking camera, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and cruise control. The 110 model comes with adaptive suspension, too.|
|SE||From £51,000: SE adds keyless entry, 20-inch alloy wheels, memory seats, automatic high beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring and black roof rails (on the 110 model).|
|HSE||From £52,000: HSE adds to SE spec with an opening sunroof, leather upholstery throughout, a heated steering wheel, extra seat adjustment, adaptive cruise control and a rear collision monitor.|
|X-Dynamic S||Limited stock: This version builds on the base trim and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, black styling details, keyless entry, automatic high beams and a rear centre armrest.|
|X-Dynamic SE||Limited stock: This model adds to X-Dynamic S trim with upgraded LED lights and ambient lighting, 20-inch alloys, a Meridian stereo, blind spot assist and rear traffic monitoring.|
|X-Dynamic HSE||Limited stock: This model builds off the X-Dynamic SE version, adding 20-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof that opens, leather seats, adaptive cruise control, a heated leather steering wheel and cooled seats in the front.|
|XS Edition||Limited stock: XS Edition is a high-spec version that comes with Matrix LED lights, keyless entry, metallic paint, 20-inch alloys, adaptive suspension, two-zone climate control, leather seats, wireless phone charging, a Meridian stereo, blind spot assist, cruise control, a heated steering wheel and lane-keep assist.|
|X||Limited stock: The X version comes with everything on the HSE model plus darkened lights, metallic paint, 20-inch alloys, three-pin plug sockets, a digital rear-view mirror, leather upholstery, a Meridian stereo, a head-up display and special air suspension with off-road modes.|
|V8||From £44,251: The V8 model comes with a powerful V8 engine - of course - as well as a panoramic sunroof, 22-inch alloys, a heated steering wheel, three-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats in leather, an electric tow bar and wireless phone charging.|
|Carpathian Edition||Limited stock: There are other special edition models to consider as well. Currently, Land Rover offers a top-spec Carpathian Edition with a huge amount of extra kit, but it’s likely to change soon and there will be another model with a new name and some different kit.|
If you can charge up at home on the driveway and do lots of short trips then the P400e plug-in hybrid model may be the best engine for you - it’s certainly the model with the potential for the highest fuel economy. It will be great for people with a short commute who can use only electric power for the trip, but won’t suit people who can’t - or won't - charge up often.
For those people we reckon the D250 diesel will be more than enough - it has 249hp, which is plenty, and performance is good as a result. It’s also reasonably economical for a large SUV and the engine is smooth. The petrol models are good but fuel economy is poor, so if you want one of these models - especially the V8 - prepare for high running costs.
There are a huge number of models in the Land Rover Defender range. There are so many trim levels it can be hard to figure out which one you want, but there’s at least a good rule of thumb to go by to get a good value and relatively well equipped option; pick your engine first based on how you will use the car, and then pick the cheapest of the trim levels that are offered with that engine on the 90 or 110 model (whichever you prefer).
Here are some key uses where we’ve picked out our top model for that purpose, which should help you decide which is best.
|Land Rover Defender 110 D250 SE: The D250 engine is a great option for most people, as it’s reasonably economical and powerful. The 110 version is the most practical, and SE trim is really well equipped despite being low down in the trim hierarchy.|
|Land Rover Defender 110 P400e X-Dynamic SE: You’ll definitely want the 110 model for family life, as it has rear passenger doors. The plug-in hybrid is great for families as you can potentially drive to school on electric power alone, but longer trips are still easy.|
|Land Rover Defender 90 P525 V8: The 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine in this version of the Defender delivers 525hp, so performance is stunning. It can go from 0-60mph in just 5.1 seconds.|
|Land Rover Defender 110 P400 X: The Defender’s P400 petrol engine is a good engine - it’s smooth and powerful - but high running costs mean it’s hard to justify. The X trim is rather expensive as well.|
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The Land Rover Defender has many rivals - after all, large upmarket SUVs are about as trendy as it gets right now. The Defender is a true all-rounder, so while you might consider it alongside rugged off-roaders like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes G-Class, there are lots of other cars to think about as well.
More road-focused models include the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7. These would all be rivals for the 110 model, as there aren’t really any three-door SUVs that rival the 90 version.
Land Rover Defender practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Land Rover Defender 90 is around 4.6m long, 2m wide and 2m high. For context, a BMW X5 is 4.9m long, 2m wide and 1.7m high, so the Defender 90 is shorter but taller than the BMW. The Defender 110 is the same height and width but is over 5m long, so it’s larger than the BMW.
The lack of rear doors in the 90 model restricts practicality a bit but it’s still quite roomy inside. The 110 model is much more important to know about for people carrying passengers - and that version is really spacious inside and can easily seat five adults. There’s an option to add extra seats and make it into a seven-seater as well, plus there’s even a six-seat option with a middle seat up front.
You can read more about the Land Rover Defender’s dimensions and boot space in our dedicated article.
|Length 4,323mm - 5,018mm||Width 2,008mm|
|Height 1,967mm - 1,974mm||Weight 2,245kg - 2,678kg|
The Land Rover Defender 90 has 297 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place, or 1,263 litres if you fold them down. That’s a reasonable amount of space but on the low side for a car of this size and if you need the maximum amount of room then you’ll want the 110 model, which has up to 786 litres of space with the seats up and 1,875 litres with them folded down.
If you go for the 110 with the seven-seat option, there’s 160 litres of space behind the rearmost seats. Read more about the Defender’s boot space in our dedicated article linked to below.
|7 seats 160 litres||5 seats 297-786 litres||2 seats 1,263-1,875 litres|
The Land Rover Defender is still a fairly new car and there aren’t many reports of common problems or reliability issues yet. Land Rover cars usually suffer from issues with the engines and electrics, but there’s every chance that this new model won’t have any of these issues.
Land Rover is also a consistently low scorer in reliability surveys. In the 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Land Rover came in a poor 22nd place out of 29 car makers in the poll. This was just behind BMW and one place ahead of Audi.
The Land Rover Defender comes with a three-year warranty from the factory, which is in line with pretty much all its main rivals - BMW, Audi and Mercedes all have the same level of cover.
You can pay for an extended warranty to cover the car for up to 10 years, although rival Lexus offers this amount of warranty without having to pay anything extra - although you'll need to get the car serviced at Lexus every year after the third year to benefit from this length of cover.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £623
The Land Rover Defender is an excellent car and if you can afford the high purchase price and running costs, it’s an excellent choice. It’s a large SUV with loads of space inside (in 110 form), a wide range of excellent engines, plenty of high-tech kit even on lower specification models and incredible off-road ability.
It’s also good to drive on the road and comfortable over bumpy sections, plus the interior is upmarket and a pleasant place to spend time. There isn’t enough data on reliability to make a call on the longer-term viability of the Defender as a family car, but if you’re buying one now then it’s such a new car still that you should have very few issues with it.
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Even lower specification Land Rover Defenders such as the D250 SE version are very well equipped, so they are the best value models by far. This diesel engine is decent for economy - though it’s still a large, heavy car, so not the most economical compared with non-SUVs - and it’s just as good to drive as more expensive models. The 110 version is best for practicality, but if you don’t need the extra space then a 90 is cheaper - by a small amount.
The P400e plug-in hybrid model is the best option for people who can charge up at home and at work, since you should be able to drive most of the time on electric power. You can travel up to 27 miles on electric power in this version, but since there’s also a 2.0-litre petrol engine, it won’t be an issue to head on longer trips as well. Just remember that if you use up all the electric charge, the car is relying predominantly on its petrol engine, so fuel economy won't be great.
The 525hp V8 petrol model isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a car enthusiast then you’ll love this version for its strong performance and enjoyable soundtrack. The V8 engine is fantastic, as it offers so much punch and a dramatic soundtrack, although high running costs need to be factored in here.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.