Land Rover Defender Review & Prices
The new Land Rover Defender is a cool-looking, well-equipped and extremely capable off-roader, but top-spec models are quite expensive and the middle 110 model isn't the biggest of seven-seaters
What's not so good
Find out more about the Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender is a large SUV that is so full of off-road tech it can cope with just about every adverse situation imaginable, earning it highly commended status in the Adventurer's Choice category at the 2024 Carwow Car of the Year Awards.
It can still do everything those posh lifestyle SUVs can do, though, which is a bit like discovering that David Beckham is actually really good at farming as well as football.
You can clearly see the original Land Rover in the design of the new Defender. This is especially the case at the rear, with its flat back end, complete with spare wheel and side-hinged rear door that opens outwards; and the Alpine lights in the roof.
As with the original, the new Land Rover Defender can be had as a three-door (and short-wheelbase) 90 model, a five-door 110 model or the elongated five-door 130 which adds another 340mm of length. You can customise your own car’s look with a range of optional accessories that includes everything from protective body panels to a raised air intake for when you’re wading through deep water.
The interior is a mixture of traditional and modern, like a fashionable city-centre flat with top-spec tech and exposed brickwork. Soft materials sit alongside deliberately exposed screws and rubber floor mats (though you can get carpet if you like). Every Defender also comes with a 11.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There is just about enough room in the back of the three-door 90 model for adults to sit comfortably, but with the seats in place there’s hardly any boot space. If you regularly use your Defender for family transport you’ll want one of the five-door cars. These can be had with five, six, seven or, in the case of the 130, even eight seats.
The best Defender is the D250 diesel engine paired with HSE trim. Head to our deals page to make sure you get the best price on one!
That said, if you regularly need to use all seven seats, you'll need to go for the 130. The boot of both five-doors is though is pretty decent, bigger than you’ll find in comparable Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler models - the other kings when things get muddy.
However, the 90 version isn’t so good; the 297-litre capacity is pretty tiny and the shape of the space is awkward, and there’s a large ridge in the floor when you fold down the rear seats. That's only a touch bigger than what the 130 can offer with all eight seats in place.
The Defender comes with a choice of two diesel engines and four petrol engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid petrol-electric model. All get an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard. The entry D250 diesel is the sweet spot in terms of price, performance, fuel economy and pulling power.
Speaking of, the Land Rover Defender can tow a 3,500kg trailer and wade through water 90cm deep – that’s more than even the uber-rugged Jeep Wrangler can manage, or any pick-up truck.
You also get plenty of high-tech driver-assistance systems that’ll help a complete novice tackle tricky off-road trails like a seasoned pro and a suite of active safety systems designed to help prevent avoidable collisions on the road.
Despite its off-road capability the Defender is quite good to drive around town. Cars with air suspension are especially comfortable, and the steering is light, making it easy to manoeuvre. Visibility is good out the front but the spare wheel gets in the way of the view out the rear.
So it’s great off-road, good on-road, practical, spacious and loaded with clever tech. If that matches your checklist for your next new car have a look at the latest Land Rover Defender deals, and what Carwow can offer on the whole Land Rover line-up. Or head to our Used Land Rover area to pick up a nearly-new bargain, and don't forget you can also sell your car through Carwow.
It’s possible — not even difficult — to buy a Defender with a £100,000+ price tag (just tick the box for the V8 Carpathian Edition and it’s almost £120k without options…). Prices start at over £60,000, and in basic form the Defender is perfectly price competitive with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLE and the Volvo XC90, while being rather more versatile than either of those. A dip into the long options list will soon have that price skyrocketing though, and of course unlike those two rivals you can also choose from short-wheelbase Defender 90 (a Defender coupe? Kind of…) and long-wheelbase, eight-seat Defender 130 models, as well as the most popular 110. The good news is that the basic D250 six-cylinder engine is also one of the best power options available, although if you want the plug-in hybrid P400e version you’re going to have to spend extra as that’s only available with ritzy X-Dynamic, XS, or X trim levels. Or you could just blow the whole budget and get the 525hp supercharged V8 version.
The three-door 90 model looks expensive when you consider it's almost half a meter, and a couple of doors, shy of the 110 model. The price gap is under £6,000 and given the huge step in practicality, you'd have to really want the little one for it to make any sense. The gap from 110 to 130 is the best part of £10,000, and that's harder to justify unless you're regularly carrying more than five adults, or need the seven seats and a bit of luggage space, as the 130 has almost double that of the 110 thanks to that huge rear overhang.
Sensible all-round, but the ride is a touch firm
You should really be taking your Defender across the Kalahari, or for a gentle jaunt along the banks of the Congo, but the sad fact is that most people will drive their big SUVs in town. Do that in the Defender and you’ll find that the air suspension is the automotive equivalent of valium — it just makes everything soft and floaty, and that’s even with the hefty standard-fit 20-inch alloy wheels. Speed humps are nothing to this car.
The steering is super-light and you have excellent visibility because you’re sat up so high, so the Defender is actually pretty easy to manoeuvre. The huge door mirrors are helpful, too. You will find that rear visibility is blocked by the big spare wheel sitting on the boot door, and what isn't blocked by that will be by the passengers and/or headrests when you're fully loaded with up to eight people. But the Defender’s standard 3D camera parking system helps with that, as does the optional digital rear view mirror.
On the motorway
The softly-softly air suspension means that the Defender is also hugely comfortable on major roads and motorways, and to be honest it cruises with the sort of comfort that you’d expect from the much posher Range Rover. It is a bit noisy at times — there’s plenty of wind rush around those big door mirrors and the upright windscreen doesn't exactly smooth the airflow, plus if you’ve fitted your Defender with off-road tyres, those will make quite a bit of noise too — but it’s actually a very relaxing, easy-going thing to drive. Again, owners and drivers of original Defenders will be astonished by how smooth this thing is, and it’s not far off the kind of refinement and long-haul comfort you’d get from more road-biased models such as the Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90. The front seats help when it comes to motorway comfort too, as they’re very comfy and supportive. Land Rover fits the Defender, as standard, with lots of safety kit to help make long journeys easier, including blind-spot warning, radar-guided cruise control, and lane-keeping steering. All of these work pretty well, and are definitely useful on a long run.
On a twisty road
On faster roads, the Defender is so much better to drive than the original car that bore this name that it’s actually kinda funny. It now feels like a luxurious SUV in corners, rather than a tin shed on wheels. Even in basic form the Defender feels just about quick enough, while the P400e plug-in hybrid feels almost indecently rapid for something so big. Through corners, where the old Defender was rubbish, this one is actually pretty good. It’s not sporty — c’mon, of course it’s not — but even though the steering is pretty vague (if you want a big SUV with sharp steering, buy a BMW X5) the Defender actually corners pretty neatly, even enthusiastically at times.
A massive car that’s massively practical, as long as you ignore the small three-door 90 model
The Defender’s cabin might just be the most out-and-out practical of any car on sale today. That big, wide dashboard is essentially one big shelf, interrupted only by the instrument panel and the infotainment screen. The inside of the shelf is rubberised, so things stay put and it’s dotted with lots of useful USB, USB-C and 12-volt sockets. There is a big glovebox, but that’s dwarfed by massive storage bins in and under the centre console, big cup-holders, and huge door bins. You can have an optional fridge in the vast storage box that sits under the front armrest, or alternatively you can throw out the big centre console and have an optional 'jump-seat' in-between the front seats, which is a bit on the small side but it’s great fun for kids.
Space in the back seats
If you’re regularly carrying adults in the back of your Defender, get the 110 or 130 versions, as although the short wheelbase 90 actually has decent space in the back seats, getting in and out is a bit gymnastic. The middle rear seat is reasonably comfy, with plenty of room for feet thanks to the fact that the floor is almost totally flat. You can have an optional third row of folding seats in the boot of the Defender, but to be honest those third-row seats are not as roomy as those of the Discovery. Of course, there’s also the longer Defender 130, which has seats for eight and lots of space in the rear cabin, so choose your Defender carefully.
You can have your Defender with nice, comfy carpets in the back, or with a plastic floor with chunky rubber mats if you’re going to be putting lots of mucky feet and paws back there. There’s a handy pair of USB-C sockets mounted down low for rear seat passengers, and we love the little ‘Alpine Light’ windows in the roof, which do let in a bit of extra light. The view out is great, thanks to big, square windows and a straight windowsill, although the door bins aren't the largest.
The big 130 model offers a third row that is good for two adults or three kids - it’s narrower than the second row so you won't get three adults as comfily as you will in the middle one. But those right at the back do get two USB-C sockets, and a cupholder and a vent on each side of the car.
The gap to climb through to third row is a bit narrow - although the handle on the door pillar helps you get back out again. But once you’re in it’s pretty comfy, and your head is nowhere near the roof despite the ‘stadium’ seating where each row is slightly higher than the one in front to make for better visibility. Legroom is decent even without sliding the middle row forward, so the 130 is the only Defender to go for if you want to get adults in the third row without complaint. All the 130's extra length of 340mm over the 110 model is in the rear area, so boot space and third-row passenger comfort are the beneficiaries.
The boot is accessed by a side-hinged rear door that opens so wide that the rear paring camera actually warns you when you're getting too close to something to be able to get it open. Once you open it, there's a pocket in the door itself for keeping small stuff safe, as well as bag hooks and a 12-volt socket. The boot is square-shaped, although the rear seats don't fold completely flat, making it a huge but not seamlessly useful load area.
With up to 786 litres of rear loadspace for the 110 model (dropping to 743 with the third row if seats specced), the Defender is though hugely practical. There’s no load lip, and if you find that the boot sill is a little too high off the ground for you, then with air suspension there’s a button inside the boot door that allows you to lower the rear of the car a few inches to make loading up easier.
Now, you need to note that the shorter Defender 90 is not so practical, with a meagre 297 litres of boot volume if the rear seats are in use. The hybrid P400e also has a slightly smaller boot, because of the need to stash its battery under the boot floor, but it only drops by a few litres.
Need more than even the 110 can offer? Have a look at the stretched Defender 130, which has an official figure of 290 litres in eight-seat configuration, up to 1,094 litres of boot space in five-seat mode, rising to over 2,000 litres if you fold down all the back seats.
For comparison, a Mercedes GLS is at 355 in seven-seat shape or 890 litres with the back two seats folded, and the BMW X7 has 320 litres with space for seven people, or 650 litres with the back two seats folded away.
Industrial chic, and a good touchscreen, but there are a few cheaper materials further down the cabin
The Defender’s cabin looks a bit like a fancy flat in London that has exposed brick walls and steel beams — it’s expensive, but it looks kind of industrial too. You get a powder-coated finish to some of the surfaces, including the back of the dashboard which gets a big Defender logo embossed into it — and a mixture of soft-touch leather and some rugged-feeling plastics. There are also exposed bolt-heads and some body-colour metal panels. It’s all very comfortable, and the seats now come with a man-made leather option called ‘Resist’ which Land Rover says has a lower carbon footprint than actual cow-skin. The big screen in the centre of the dashboard gets Land Rover’s recently introduced ‘Pivi Pro’ software, which looks slick and is pretty easy to use. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections, and even over-the-air software updates thanks to a built-in internet connection. For reference’s sake, the old Defender got a tape-deck and a little clock. You will find some cheaper materials when you start looking lower down in the cabin, such as in the door bins, but that’s probably acceptable. Overall quality is very good, and the whole interior seems well put-together which is good — Land Rover has a terrible reputation for quality, and it needs cars like the Defender to start turning that around.
All of the engines on offer, aside from the V8 and the plug-in hybrid, get mild-hybrid electric assistance, but the Defender is a big, heavy car (at minimum, it weighs 2.4-tonnes) and it has the aerodynamic properties of a breeze block, so you’ll be expecting the fuel economy to be quite poor. And for the most part, it is. If you’re very gentle with the D250 six-cylinder mild-hybrid diesel, then you might get 35mpg out of it on a long run. If you’re doing lots of driving in town, or if you’re actually making use of the Defender’s off-road ability and heading off into the forests, then that will easily drop to around 25mpg.
The P300 turbo petrol is a surprisingly good engine, but it will be thirsty and you’ll be lucky to get 20mpg out of it. The V8? Don’t buy one unless you have shares in Texaco — 15mpg if you’re lucky.
The outlier is the P400e plug-in hybrid. Officially, that engine has an official economy figure of 109mpg, which is obviously pretty daft, but it will go for a claimed 27 miles on electric power with a fully-charged battery, and you can even fast charge it from a public 50kW charging point (although expect death stares from Nissan Leaf owners if you do…). Make full use of the hybrid battery for short journeys and you can potentially tickle some very impressive economy out of the Defender PHEV, and it’ll return a solid 35mpg on a long run, so it’s the best of the engines from an economy perspective.
That P400e’s CO2 emissions start from 59g/km which obviously makes it the best choice from a tax perspective. The regular D250 and D300 diesels have emissions above 223g/km so as a private user you’ll have to pay £1,420 in the first year, plus the £335 levy for cars costing more than £40,000. A V8? Well, with emissions of 332g/km(!) you’ll have to pay £2,365 plus the £335 levy in year one. But if you can afford the V8, you probably won’t care.
The Defender gets a very good safety rating from the independent crash test experts at Euro NCAP: five-stars, with an 85% rating for both adult and child occupant safety. Interestingly, the Defender also gets a very impressive 71% rating for ‘vulnerable road user’ protection, which possibly gives lie to the theory that big SUVs such as this are inherently dangerous for other road users.
Standard safety kit includes autonomous emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, active cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear traffic crossing monitor, a 3D surround camera system, lane-keeping steering, ISOFIX points in the rear seats, and wade sensing — which uses the parking sensors to work out how deep standing water in front of the car is. In fact, the Defender can wade through almost a metre of standing water, and the limiting factor isn’t the height of the air intake, but the fact that at over 900mm of depth the rear wheels start to float…
Land Rover has a pretty poor rep when it comes to quality and reliability, with as many as a third of owners reporting faults with their car in the first year. The Defender ought to do better than that, as it’s built in a brand-new factory in Slovakia, and it’s certainly a high-quality item when it’s factory-fresh. Some owners have reported issues with the electrics, and initially the software for the infotainment system was pretty flaky, but that seems to have been sorted with a recent update. Early Defenders suffered poor door and window seals, too. There have been reports of multiple cracked windscreens, as well as problems with the rear lights and the gearbox and differentials. Land Rover does offer a three-year unlimited mileage warranty as standard, and that can — for an extra cost — be extended out to ten years and 100,000-miles.