The Jeep Wrangler is the largest and oldest off-road hunter in the United States, but after that, you’ll come across a different name that goes a long way in conquering rough terrain: The Land Rover Defender. Since 1983, the Land Rover Defender has been a stalwart companion for people crossing all terrains. Officially introduced in the U.S. for the first time since the mid-1990s, the classic workhorse was suddenly replaced in 2020 by an all-new Defender. This 2020 model gets a lot of changes, namely an aluminum unibody and an upscale interior.
Shoppers have plenty of Defender versions to choose from, whether you’re more inclined to conquer uncharted terrain or tame the urban maze. Combining a classy and spacious cabin with the promise of all-terrain capabilities, the all-new Defender quickly became a favorite in upper-middle-class suburban America, transporting the kids to high school to the grocery store. Took the responsibility of delivering the groceries to the residence.
- Two-Day Adventure
However, a recent trip to take on Land Rover’s track rivals serves as a reminder that the Defender doesn’t just recommend squared-off looks and off road wheels functionality with a Land Rover badge. Two-door and four-door models, three engine choices, and several corresponding trim levels exist. A new long-wheelbase three-row model, dubbed the Defender 130, debuting in 2023. Whichever Defender you choose, we’re confident you’ll be just as impressed, as evidenced by our Trek Program Rating below. During our time with the Trek program—we planned an awesome two-day adventure to educate dealership employees. We were reunited with the Defender’s extreme off-road chops as it became our mobile home for the night.
From 2023, Trek competitors will have retail workers and journalists driving modified Defender 110s. There is a noticeable difference between the Trek autos and the Roofnest Falcon Professional rooftop tent, which costs $3995 and weighs 180 kilos. Also included are a remote-controlled digital Warn winch, a snorkel air intake, a gear provider field, and a beefier front under-shield shielding sensitive mechanical elements from protruding rocks. Additionally, there was an ARB fridge in the cargo area, a solar panel on top of the tent, two exterior water containers, and limb risers to keep tree branches out of the way on narrow trails.
The Defender’s on-road driving experience is seriously compromised by all these tools strapped to it. Due to the added weight, acceleration is a persistence trial, particularly for Defenders powered by turbocharged 2.0-liter inline fours. In an unmodified 110, the 296 horsepower of that engine is sufficient for day-to-day driving, but with the increased weight, we wish we had the 395-hp inline-six or even the 518-hp supercharged V-8 engine.
Because the rig was heavier, the brakes had to work much harder to stop it. Similarly, the rooftop tent and other exterior-mounted equipment significantly raised the center of gravity, requiring caution when navigating twisty two-lane highways in upstate New York and Vermont. Plus, at speeds above 50 mph, the tent and other protrusions amplified wind noise to a loud howl.
- Over the Rocks
But the heavy load didn’t seem to like the Land Rover Defender much when Land Rover completed the best off-road wheel challenges in Manchester, Vermont. On a series of all-terrain courses, the Defender deftly scaled mud-covered hills while skimming over giant boulders. The experience inside the car felt surprisingly calm and comfortable. Standard air springs absorbed bumps and kept the cabin fairly level on uneven topography. Even with the warning winch attached to the front bumper, the 110 had excellent approach and departure angles, moving through tight spaces and steep inclines with impressive agility. We never scraped the front skid plate or tipped the SUV. Now Defender is helping us find more difficult challenges.
Unlike the original Land Rover, the new 110 uses new technology to tackle tough off-road trails. At the start of one of the courses, there was a nearly 45-degree drop off a rocky slope, but the vehicle’s hill descent control allowed us to move smoothly, allowing us to avoid the biggest obstacles in our path on our own. They were left to concentrate. The height-adjustable air suspension also showed up during the accuracy challenge, where we were tasked with steering our guard to hit a hanging cone with a target stuck on our roof. The height-adjustable air suspension allowed us to raise or lower the car to get the right speed line to hit the cone with the target. The backup camera, a suite of other camera views, was also instrumental in guiding the guard to safety on the narrow and winding path through the forest.
Despite our many hardships on the highway, we were grateful to our protector when we thought about it. Who easily provided us with all the stuff for an overnight stay. The fridge provided us with cold water after a long and scorching day and kept our night-cooking ingredients safe. For us pitching the tent on the roof was a left-handed affair; with the hydraulic folding mechanism, the tent slowly unfolded by itself after a gentle push upwards. Once pitched, the tent provided comfortable amenities with a soft floor and plenty of space — keeping us warm from the cold ground because nighttime temperatures in these places drop into the 50s.
How Much Does the 2023 Land Rover Defender Cost?
The 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 starts at $69,350 (all prices include a $1,350 destination charge). By comparison, the 2023 two-door Defender 90 starts at $56,450, the four-door Defender 110 at $54,850, and the three-row, seven-seat version of the Range Rover at $111,850.
How Many People Can Fit in a Land Rover Defender?
The Land Rover Defender was resurrected for 2020 as an off-road-ready that has added a 24 inch SUV rims that doubles as a luxury daily driver but slots below the more opulent Range Rover in the lineup. For 2023, the Defender will get stretched to accommodate up to eight occupants with the addition of the three-row Defender 130.
What’s the Difference Between the Land Rover Defender 110 and 130?
According to Land Rover, the 130’s longer body makes room for more occupant space and easier access to the third row. Cargo space behind the third row grows from 10.7 cubic feet in the Defender 110 to 15.3 cubic feet based on the brand’s measurements.
Does the New Land Rover 130 have 3-Row Seating?
It also faces some competition in-house, with the Land Rover Discovery and the new long-wheelbase Range Rover also available with three-row seating. Land Rover says the new 130 will get a 2-3-3 seating arrangement with a “practical” new body style joining the existing fleet of two-door 90 and four-door 110 Defender models.
Returning on the New York State Thruway to return to Jaguar Land Rover defender headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey, we quickly realized the tradeoffs that come with transporting several hundreds of pounds of equipment. However, the Defender’s all-terrain capability and our cozy night in the tent had won us over. Ultimately, we stopped worrying about the ungainly handling and sluggish acceleration. Instead, we slowed down as the leaves took on their autumnal hues as we drove through the picturesque New York countryside.