Land Rover Defender 130 Review & Prices

The Land Rover Defender 130 is wildly capable, seats eight, and still feels luxurious. Mind you, it’s huge and certainly not cheap

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RRP £73,970 - £120,065 Avg. Carwow saving £3,858 off RRP
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Reviewed by Tom Wiltshire after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Eight adult-sized seats
  • Extremely comfortable and capable
  • Fantastic engine range

What's not so good

  • Very, very large
  • Expensive
  • Not the best reliability record

Find out more about the Land Rover Defender 130

Is the Land Rover Defender 130 a good car?

The Land Rover Defender 130 is one of the most all-round capable cars you can currently buy. There’s nothing else that can cruise this quietly on the motorway, attack a snowy summit or sandy strand, and carry eight full-size adults at the same time. Mind you, it’s also absolutely massive. If it’s a little bit too massive, then there are other options — there’s the Defender 110, which is shorter than the 130 but still has five doors and seats for as many as seven, or there’s the short and stubby Defender 90, which can seat as many as six but has a tiny boot. 

The Defender 130’s massive size, seat count, and off-roading bits are great if you really, truly need that kind of capability (maybe you run a sightseeing tour that takes in the top of Ben Nevis) but for most of us, owning a Defender 130 would be a bit like using a top-end Aga to heat up a Pot Noodle — total overkill. 

There aren’t many proper rivals for the Defender 130, though. There are plenty of big, expensive, three-row SUVs — such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes GLS, and the still-with-us Volvo XC90 — but those are all seven-seaters, not eight-seaters and they’re mostly only suitable for children in the third-row seats. Because it can genuinely seat eight adults, at a slight squeeze, the Defender 130’s real rivals come from the van world, such as the Volkswagen Multivan or Transporter Shuttle, or the Ford Tourneo Custom (Transit with windows to you and me).

Watch: World's fastest SUVs drag race

The Defender 130 comes with a choice of four engines — one diesel and three petrols — and all of them have strong performance, even when they’re lugging around 2.6-tonnes of Defender. The most thrilling engine choice is the 500hp supercharged V8, but for anyone with even a rough idea of the concept of budgeting, the diesel is the best choice, as it should just about be able to average 30mpg. Sadly, the plug-in hybrid engine option from the Defender 110 isn’t offered, as the battery would have to go where the rear seats are. 

Engine choice is sort of immaterial, though, as with any of them the Defender is staggeringly capable when it comes to the sort of rough terrain that people like to imagine tackling in one. Quite apart from the generous ground clearance and adjustable air suspension, there’s a plethora of electronic driver aids that can help you scramble over or across just about any obstacle. 

And that hasn’t come at the expense of comfort on the tarmac. Standard air suspension means the Defender is very comfortable over bumps but not so flabby that it’ll lean like a galleon in the bends. The eight-speed automatic gearbox common to all models shifts gears quickly and unobtrusively and even visibility isn’t too bad. The only issue you’re likely to have in town is parking - the 130 is over five metres long.

The Defender 130 is insanely capable, but most people will be better suited by the smaller and cheaper 110

A full suite of cameras and parking aids help with that, though. Tech on the Defender is generally very good. Not only do you get a big, clear touchscreen for navigation and entertainment, but you get a full panel of clicky, tactile buttons for the climate control and off-road functions which are really pleasant to use. They’re set into a dash that’s chunky and stylish, with features such as exposed screw heads reminding you that the Defender is the rugged member of the Land Rover family.

It truly is wipe-clean, too - perhaps not hose-down like Land Rovers of old, but it should stand up to the rigours of family life much better than most luxury SUVs do.

If this all tickles your fancy, you can see Carwow’s latest deals on the Land Rover Defender 130 here. Or, see deals on the smaller Defender 110 and Defender 90. You can also check out used Defenders here, and remember that when the time comes to switch you can sell your car through Carwow too.

How much is the Land Rover Defender 130?

The Land Rover Defender 130 has a RRP range of £73,970 to £120,065. However, with Carwow you can save on average £3,858. Prices start at £78,135 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £1,011. The price of a used Land Rover Defender 130 on Carwow starts at £59,000.

Our most popular versions of the Land Rover Defender 130 are:

Model version Carwow price from
3.0 D350 X-Dynamic HSE 130 5dr Auto [8 Seat] £82,130 Compare offers

The Defender 130 is not a cheap car. Prices kick off at more than £70,000, and rise to well over £100,000. That is, however, significantly cheaper than the entry-level BMW X7 or Mercedes GLS, in keeping with the Defender’s more worklike, less luxurious positioning.

Really, the closest competitor in terms of style and character is the Mercedes G-Class (formerly the G-Wagen) but that’s even more expensive and exclusive. Or you could save yourself a bundle and get an eight-seat version of a Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle or Ford Tourneo. 

Trim levels are oddly named, but the range broadly kicks off with the X-Dynamic SE trim, which features electric heated front seats, a Meridian sound system, LED lights, three-zone climate control and an opening panoramic sunroof. Above this sits HSE, which adds a leather interior, front fog lights and adaptive cruise control.

The X-Dynamic HSE adds a little extra style, as does the Outbound trim which is meant to be rugged and outdoorsy. At the top of the range is the Defender X, which comes fully loaded with all the comfort and safety features you could dream of. While it’s exceptionally expensive at the top end, to be fair to the Defender 130, it’s playing in a field of one — no other large SUV offers seats for eight.  

Performance and drive comfort

Fantastic to drive on or off road, but a bit big and unwieldy for towns

In town

In tight city centres you really feel the Defender 130’s size. Some of that is positive - you sit up super high, giving you a commanding view of the road over the top of most other traffic. However, it’s also very wide, so you struggle to thread it through narrow gaps like you could in a smaller SUV.

Then there’s the length. At more than five metres long, the Defender 130 is as big as most pickup trucks, so parking it in a small space or getting through a tight multistorey car park is difficult. It’s not helped by a massive turning circle, which makes us wonder why Land Rover doesn’t (or possibly can’t) fit the rear wheel steering system from the Range Rover, which would make the Defender 130 far easier to manage in tight spaces. 

However, with plenty of cameras the Defender tries to make life as easy as possible in town, and the responsive gearbox and the way it deals with bumps means it will be a comfortable trip for all your passengers.

On the motorway

The size, the air suspension and the powerful engines make short work of a motorway journey. The Defender may be off-road oriented but it’s spectacularly comfortable and cosseting on a long journey.

All the engines are powerful, but they all settle down to a relaxed sort of rumble at a cruise that’s unobtrusive. Road noise is also very well contained, though there’s a little bit of wind noise thanks to the Defender’s bluff bodywork and big door mirrors.

A Range Rover or BMW X7 are slightly more refined, but there’s truly not very much in it. And the Defender is right up there with the best for comfort.

On a twisty road

Again, the Defender’s size and weight count against it here. Considering how tall and heavy it is, it doesn’t lean too much in the bends, but you will need to take a more relaxed approach to corners than you do in a more sporting premium SUV such as the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X7.

Opt for one of the top petrol models - particularly the 500hp V8 - and the Defender feels indecently quick for something so massive. The lower-end petrols or the diesel are significantly less zingy, but neither is what you’d call slow. The V8 also gets sharper chassis tuning, so it feels much more chuckable on a tight road. The lower-end petrols or the diesel are significantly less zingy, but neither is what you’d call slow.

If you’re actually heading off-road, then the extra rear overhang of the Defender 130 means it’s a little less capable overall than the shorter 110 or the shortest 90, but that’s probably only of concern to those for whom winching is a pleasant holiday pursuit.

Space and practicality

Three rows of adult-sized seats, though you need a degree of athleticism to access the very back

Multi-adjustable electric seats for the driver and front passenger are exceptionally comfortable, with wide, flat bases that suit larger occupants well. Storage space is fantastic - there are big cupholders and a large glovebox complimented by massive open storage areas, huge door bins and a vast storage box in the centre console that can even be specified with a fridge.

You don’t get the optional ‘jump seat’ that shorter Defenders can specify, but you don’t need it given the glut of seating options in rows two and three.

Space in the back seats

The second row of seats offers a great deal of space, and three six-foot adults will sit in comfort. The centre seat is slightly narrower, but thanks to a flat floor there’s plenty of room for passengers’ feet.

The rear seats fold forwards to give access to the third row of seats, where you’ll find a further three perches. It’s quite a narrow aperture, and getting in requires a bit of athleticism. These seats sit between the rear wheels, so the bench isn’t as wide as the second row, but you can still squeeze three adults back there and there’s plenty of head- and legroom. Actually the person in the middle seat gets the most space, as the rear wheel arches cut into the foot space for anyone sitting in the outer third row seats.

All rear passengers get a fantastic view out, because the windowline is low and there are little ‘Alpine Light’ windows in the roof. You can choose between luxurious carpet or practical rubber matting, ideal for lots of muddy feet.

Boot space

There’s 290 litres of space in the boot with all seats in place - that’s around the same volume as many small hatchbacks have, so while you won’t be squeezing eight people’s luggage there it’s plenty for a small weekly shop or a couple of carry-ons. Drop the third row of seats and you get a five-seater with a truly cavernous 1,094 litres, bigger than any competitor. By comparison, the BMW X7 has 750 litres in five-seat mode, the Mercedes GLS 890.

With all the seats down it does a passable impression of a van with more than 2,000 litres of space. If maximum boot space is what you need, there is now a five-seat version of the Defender 130, which boasts 1,329 litres of luggage space behind the second row of seats. 

Accessing the boot isn’t always that easy, though, thanks to the massive swing-out tailgate. You need quite a lot of space behind the car to open it fully, not always easy if you’ve reverse parked or have someone close behind you.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

Hard-wearing, chunky and stylish, though not as luxurious as some

The Defender 130 has the same interior up front as its 90 and 110 siblings. That means you get a wide dashboard made of sturdy materials, with some funky styling touches such as a contrasting panel and exposed screw heads.

Everything feels very well built and up to the rigours of life either on a farmyard or with a family - both equally demanding. You can choose from plush carpet or hard-wearing rubber matting for the floor, and the upholstery is either leather or the sturdy-sounding ‘Robustec’ - both wipe-clean.

All Defenders come with an 11.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system as well as a digital gauge cluster for driver information. The touchscreen is big, clear but it’s a bit slow to respond to your touch, and it doesn’t seem as slick and quick as those from Mercedes or BMW. Also, it runs the same software as other Land Rover products - it would have been good to see a bespoke Defender skin with chunkier buttons that were easier to hit while on the move off-road. The touchscreen can’t be operated with gloves, either which is a bit of a shame for such an outdoors-oriented car. 

MPG, emissions and tax

No Defender will be cheap to run. Once you’ve got past the chunky initial purchase price, you’re in for a lifetime of pricey fuel station visits. The most efficient version is the 300hp diesel, but even this will struggle to return more than 30mpg with the lightest of feet.

Opt for one of the petrol engines and that figure only goes lower. Expect mid-to-low 20s from the 300hp or 400hp petrol versions, and less than 20mpg from the 500hp petrol V8. Load the 130 up with eight passengers and you’ll see those economy figures tumble even further.

CO2 emissions are correspondingly high, which means road tax is pricey. The standard petrols and diesel are in the second-highest tax band, while the V8 is in the top bracket - and all attract the additional supplement for cars costing more than £40,000. Benefit-in-kind company car rates are expensive too. And unlike the shorter Defender 110, there’s no plug-in hybrid version available to lower these.

Safety and security

The Defender range has a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, reflecting good crash test scores and excellent safety equipment. All versions get autonomous emergency braking that can detect cyclists and pedestrians as well as other cars, plus a raft of other safety kit depending on the model you choose - adaptive cruise control, a 3D surround camera system, lane-keeping assistance and blind spot monitors are all available.

Security can often be an issue with Land Rover products, as older models were susceptible to relay theft with the keyless entry systems. This has been addressed for the Defender and it’s nowhere near as vulnerable as some older Land Rovers, but it’s still a very desirable target for thieves - and the 130’s unlikely to fit into a standard sized garage for protection.

Reliability and problems

Land Rover’s reputation for reliability is limited, with as many as a third of owners reporting faults with their car in the first year of ownership. Issues are rarely with the engines, but electrical and software faults are common.

The Driver Power owner satisfaction survey doesn't cover the Defender just yet, but there might be some improvement going on — results do seem to show that, across all models, Land Rover owners are starting to become more positive about the brand’s reliability and solidity. 

The new Defender range only has two minor recalls, which is a good sign, and experience so far shows the Defender to be rather more dependable than other models in the Land Rover lineup.

Buy or lease the Land Rover Defender 130 at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £73,970 - £120,065 Avg. Carwow saving £3,858 off RRP
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