Land Rover Defender 90 Review & Prices

The Land Rover Defender 90 might be the smallest model in the range, but it’s still really comfy and a mighty off-roader. Shame the boot’s so small, though

Buy or lease the Land Rover Defender 90 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 £57,660 - £114,485 Avg. Carwow saving £2,847 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£55,450
Monthly
£675*
Used
£43,920
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wowscore
8/10
Reviewed by Darren Cassey after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Looks fantastic
  • Brilliant off-road
  • Comfy around town and on the motorway

What's not so good

  • Tiny boot
  • Expensive given lack of practicality
  • Three-door layout can be annoying

Find out more about the Land Rover Defender 90

Is the Land Rover Defender 90 a good car?

The Land Rover Defender is one of the most broadly capable cars you can buy, equally at home popping to the local shops as it is traversing the Cairngorms or hacking across the Gobi. It’s the car that can do almost everything, and is impressive enough that it scooped a highly commended status in the Adventurer's Choice category at the 2024 Carwow Car of the Year Awards. Customers seem to agree too — last year, Land Rover sold 110,000 of these things worldwide. 

You can have your Defender in three different body-styles. For those in search of practicality and lots of seats, there are the five-door 110 and stretched 130 versions, but this is the short-wheelbase, three door 90 model. It’s like someone took a big, cuddly sheepdog and bred a version that can fit into your handbag. 

There are alternatives, such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90 (which is staying in production alongside the all-electric EX90 for the moment), or Mercedes GLE, but these are all on-road oriented cars, and are unlikely to stray far from the school run. Any would start floundering pretty quickly if they tried to follow a Defender off-road, so its true rivals are really the Toyota Land Cruiser (about to be re-invented itself, with retro styling and a high-quality cabin) and the Jeep Wrangler

The Defender 90 offers something unique from all of these competitors with its three-door styling. Toyota might offer the new Land Cruiser in a three-door form, but it’s not confirmed yet, and Jeep no longer sells the three-door Wrangler in the UK. The Defender 90’s styling looks incredibly cool and chunky, but there’s a price to pay in that the boot is tiny for such a big vehicle. Equally, while the back seats are actually very comfy, they’re tricky to get in and out of.

The Land Rover Defender 90’s three-door layout looks great, but it’s not very practical

There’s a choice of five engines, with the two diesels likely to suit most Land Rover Defender owners, being good for off-roading and more economical on long drives where the Defender excels. The 525hp petrol V8 model is comically quick with a brilliant soundtrack, and will appeal if you ignore the potentially ruinous running costs.

There isn’t really a weak point in the engine line-up, because whichever you choose the Defender will tackle even the toughest terrain. But it’s also impressively comfortable and refined on the road, with this smaller Defender 90 the most manoeuvrable of the trio around town. There’s a bit more wind and tyre noise than you get in the posher Range Rover, but there’s not a great deal in it.

Even the interior of the Defender, which is designed to look and feel a bit more rugged than its posher sibling, is suitably upmarket. Yes, it’s designed to be easy to clean after a day in the fields, but it feels just about upmarket enough to hold its own with the BMWs and Audis you might also consider.

Like what you hear? Find out how much you could save with Carwow’s Land Rover Defender 90 deals, or check out the latest used Defender 90 stock from our network of trusted dealers. You can also take a look at other used Land Rover models, and when it’s time to sell your current car, Carwow’s there to help too.

How much is the Land Rover Defender 90?

The Land Rover Defender 90 has a RRP range of £57,660 to £114,485. However, with Carwow you can save on average £2,847. Prices start at £55,450 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £675. The price of a used Land Rover Defender 90 on Carwow starts at £43,920.

Our most popular versions of the Land Rover Defender 90 are:

Model version Carwow price from
2.0 P300 SE 90 3dr Auto £55,450 Compare offers

The Defender is most certainly not cheap, even in this smallest (a relative term) form. This is a car that’s hugely fashionable right now, and comes bundled with incredible history and heritage, and you pay extra for that.

The Land Rover Defender ranges from pretty good value to ludicrously expensive, depending which version you go for. At the lower end of the range you have the less powerful petrol and diesel engines going for around £60,000. You can nearly double that by going for the V8 petrol, which starts at around £110,000.

That means it starts at about £10,000 less than a BMW X5, though as you go up the range the high-performance X5 M60i matches the Defender 90 V8 on price. The Audi Q7 costs a bit less than the BMW, then the Volvo XC90 is a bit less again. So high-specification Defenders are similarly priced to alternatives, but if you can resist the urge to go for all the kit there’s a good deal to be had.

Looking at off-roaders? It’s a bit more complicated. The Mercedes G-Class is silly expensive, starting at around £130,000. The Jeep Wrangler has become very expensive in this generation, and although it offers the kind of epic off-road ability as the Defender, it’s a smaller and less spacious car. The new Toyota Land Cruiser, coming in 2024, is expected to undercut the Land Rover, starting around £50,000.

Performance and drive comfort

Incredibly comfortable and refined on the road compared with similarly capable off-roaders, but it’s not the best SUV in corners

In town

Where the Defender 110 and, in particular, the 130, can feel rather big and cumbersome in town, the 90 is a bit more agile. It’s still a big car, and you’ll notice its width in tight spaces, but being shorter makes it much less intimidating to thread through traffic or navigate multi-storey car parks.

Its off-roading prowess also helps here. There are cameras dotted about the car to help navigate rutted tracks and dodge protruding tree stumps, but they’re also useful for helping you squeeze between width restrictors and narrow parking spaces.

Unsurprisingly, the soft suspension handles potholes and speed bumps with ease, so it’s comfortable to roll around in, and the slick automatic gearbox means there’s no jolting around between gears.

On the motorway

Being a big, comfortable SUV means it’s perhaps no surprise that the Land Rover Defender 90 is adept at taking on long motorway drives. The squishy seats mean your bum won’t ache after hours behind the wheel and the powerful engines make short work of slip roads and overtakes.

It helps that the steering is slow – it takes a lot of steering input to turn the Defender, so it doesn’t have the energetic hyperactivity of sportier competitors – which helps make it a relaxing way to roll on the miles.

It’s not all rosy, though, because it can be a bit noisy in the Defender. Its boxy shape means you hear the wind buffeting off the car at high speeds, and there’s a noticeable tyre roar, particularly if you’ve fitted off-road rubber. This shouldn’t be enough to put you off though, as it's really not far off the serenity of an Audi Q7.

On a twisty road

Decent around town and on the motorway, there must be a catch somewhere, right? Well, yes – the way it drives down a twisty road. To be fair, it doesn’t lean too much, but there’s little to make you giggle with excitement.

The steering requires a lot of input so it can feel like steering a ship in a storm trying to keep up, and there’s little feedback about how much grip the tyres have, which can knock your confidence to push on.

That said, it’s not terrible. Get into a rhythm and there is fun to be had. But if you want to enjoy your favourite B-road in your family SUV you’d be much better off getting a BMW X5. V8-engined versions get specially tuned suspension which keeps the body flatter through corners, without sacrificing too much comfort over bumps. It’s a form of witchcraft, as far as we can tell. 

Space and practicality

Cabin practicality is good, and the rear seats are spacious once you’re in, but they’re hard to access and the boot is tiny

This might be the smallest Land Rover Defender in the range but you wouldn’t know it from the driver’s seat. It’s one of the most practical cabins of any car on sale today, with a wide dashboard that’s essentially one big shelf where you can put stuff. There’s also a big glovebox, massive storage bins in and under the centre console, and cupholders that can take a mega XL grande coffee from Starbucks.

You can even tick a box that fits a fridge beneath the armrest, or swap that area altogether for a 'jump-seat' in-between the front seats, which is a bit on the small side but it’s good fun for kids and turns this SUV into a six-seater.

The driving position is great, with plenty of adjustability so even taller drivers will have no trouble getting comfortable and shorter drivers still have a commanding view of the road ahead.

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. You need to fold the front seats forward and clamber into the back, which also means it’s not ideal if you have a child seat, though the ISOFIX mounting points are easy to find between the seat cushions once you’re in.

Navigate the tight entry and you’re rewarded with spacious rear seats. You get loads of headroom and legroom, and while the middle seat isn’t quite as comfortable, there is at least plenty of room for feet thanks to the fact that the floor is almost totally flat.

Boot space

The boot is accessed by a side-hinged rear door that opens impractically wide, so it’s useful that the reversing camera warns you when you’re too close to something to actually access it.

Once you do have the door open, you are greeted with a very small boot in the Land Rover Defender 90. With just 297 litres, it’s smaller than you’ll find in a typical city car such as the Vauxhall Corsa. It means you can just about get a small pram in there, or a weekly shop for a small family, but not much else. The way the rear seats recline into the space also makes it tricky to load larger items such as suitcases for a week away.

Need space? Everything else you might be considering will offer it. To start with, the bigger Defender 110 and 130 have 786 litres and 1,094 litres of boot space in their respective five-seat modes. The Mercedes GLS offers up to 894 litres and the BMW X7 has 650 litres, with both actually offering more space than a Defender 90 even in their seven-seat configurations.

The Jeep Wrangler, in spite of being a smaller vehicle, has more space too — 498 litres. The old Land Cruiser offered 560 litres of space, but in the incoming new model, that drops to a much-less useful 408 litres. 

At least there’s no load lip in the Defender 90, and there are solid tie-down points and hooks for bags, as well as a 12V socket. Fold the rear seats down and you get a bit more space, but there’s a big ridge between the boot and the seats so it’s impossible to slide items through.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The industrial chic looks great and the touchscreen works well, but material quality is some way off alternatives from BMW and Audi

The Land Rover Defender’s interior is a bit like a trendy flat in London with exposed brick walls and steel beams, because it’s designed to look a bit rough around the edges with exposed bolt-heads and body-coloured metal panels mixing with a powder-coated finish on some surfaces. The result is fashionably industrial, but there’s no denying the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 feel much posher inside – but less capable of withstanding the demands of hectic family life.

Whichever Defender you go for, there’s an 11.4-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, which is crisp and clear and fairly easy to use, though some of the buttons are quite small so can be tricky to press when being jiggled about off road. Land Rover has thought about power outlets though — that big shelf of a dashboard is liberally studded with USB-C and 12-volt sockets, and there are more in the centre armrest (or behind the flip-down middle front seat if you’ve picked that particular option). 

The digital instrument display is less intuitive to use, though this is common among all Land Rover models, not just the Defender. All the information is there, you might just need to study the user manual to figure out how to get it…

MPG, emissions and tax

The Land Rover Defender 90 is available with two diesel engines and three petrols, all of which come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

You get the choice of a 249hp or 300hp diesel, both of which return just shy of 34mpg in official tests and have CO2 emissions of around 220g/km, putting them into one of the highest first-year road tax bands.

If you prefer petrol there are two regular models with either 300hp or 400hp, and again official tests have them evenly matched for fuel economy at about 26mpg, though it’s likely the less powerful model will be a bit cheaper to run in the real world. CO2 emissions above 240g/km put both in the second-highest first-year tax band.

If fluctuating fuel costs are no cause for concern, the 525hp V8 petrol engine could be the car for you. It’s hilariously quick, drinks fuel like it’s going out of fashion (19.9mpg officially, but that’s optimistic) and it falls comfortably into the highest first-year tax band – though this is likely of little concern if you’re buying a car that’s more than £100,000 to start with.

Company car buyers will be best-served looking at a Defender 110, because these are available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will reduce your benefit-in-kind payments. Sadly, the plug-in hybrid system won’t fit in the 90.

Safety and security

The Land Rover Defender scored the full five-out-of-five stars in Euro NCAP safety testing, with good scores for occupant protection and assistance systems. Its off-road ability offers extra reassurance for driving in the worst weather winter can throw at you, too.

All models have all-wheel drive and assistance kit including a 3D surround camera, blind spot assistance, lane-keeping and emergency braking that can detect pedestrians, cyclists and other cars.

Although security is a notorious issue with Land Rovers, the vulnerability of keyless entry systems has been addressed for the Defender, and Land Rover has started to offer its own insurance cover for drivers who’ve been rejected by other providers. However, these are still desirable models, like any premium SUV, which can make it a target for thieves.

Reliability and problems

Land Rover’s reputation for reliability isn’t great, and ownership surveys indicate that this is well-earned with plenty of cars having issues, typically related to electrical problems and software faults, rather than engine-related. It’s worth noting that the Defender appears to suffer with fewer issues than other Land Rover models, though.

Possibly the fact that it’s built in a very new factory in Slovakia, rather than in Land Rover’s traditional home plants in the midlands, has something to do with that. According to Auto Express’ Driver Power reliability ratings, the Defender is too new to have featured in the 2023 ratings, but in general terms owner feedback about Land Rover products is starting to improve, so that’s hopefully a good sign. 

The Land Rover warranty is about average among alternatives, coming in at three years with unlimited mileage. Volvo and Audi offer a 60,000-mile limit over the same time period, for example. Lexus leads the pack with its 10-year/100,000-mile warranty that’s possible with annual servicing.

Buy or lease the Land Rover Defender 90 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 £57,660 - £114,485 Avg. Carwow saving £2,847 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£55,450
Monthly
£675*
Used
£43,920
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals
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