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2024 Land Rover Defender 130

Starting from CAD $97,100

Vehicle Score 8.4/10
Disclaimer: Vehicles are provided by manufacturers. Content is produced independently and is not sponsored by them.

The Defender is the ultimate off-road luxury SUV, blending off-road capability with the good on-road manners for which Land Rover is famous. It was the go-to choice in North America for shoppers who wanted an off-roader from a luxury brand. However, with new entries such as the Lexus GX joining the market, it faces increased competition. Is the Defender still worth considering?

The Land Rover lineup has three Defenders with different wheelbase sizes: the 90, 110, and 130. The 90 is the smallest, with a 93-inch wheelbase, followed by the 110 with a 110-inch wheelbase, and the largest is the 130 with a 119-inch wheelbase. Each model has a purpose and is built to meet the needs of shoppers who want a capable off-road vehicle.

In the Defender lineup, you have three engine options to choose from: a 3L 6-cylinder turbocharged engine with 395 horsepower, a 2L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with 296 horsepower, and a 5L V8 supercharged engine with 518 horsepower. I tested the Defender 130 with the 3L 6-cylinder turbocharged engine. Despite its impressive 395 horsepower, the Defender 130 doesn’t feel quick or fast, mainly because of its large size and weight. However, it still offers ample passing power and acceleration in the city or when merging onto the highway. This engine also adds to the off-road capability, ensuring you can get through tough terrain without getting stuck. As for the transmission, all Defenders come with an 8-speed automatic transmission that maintains the SUV’s luxury ride while being off-road capable, thanks to smooth and quick gear shifts.

The height-adjustable air suspension adds to the Defender’s off-road capability. It offers three modes: access mode, which lowers the vehicle by two inches for easier entry, standard ride height, and off-road height, which lifts the vehicle a bit over two inches. The off-road height is especially useful for tackling rough terrain, while access mode comes in handy for everyday tasks like getting in and out of the vehicle or loading items into the trunk.

Land Rover is well-known for its luxurious interiors, and while the Defender isn’t the fanciest model, it still says luxury in an off-road manner. The interior feels spacious, thanks to large windows and a high roof, offering plenty of headroom and legroom for all passengers in the 130 model. The seats are comfortably cushioned and great for long road trips, plus the driver’s seat provides good adjustability. The seating position in the Defender is more upright, which can be an adjustment for some drivers. Visibility is excellent all around due to the large windows, and maneuvering in tight spaces is made easier with the help of the 360-degree camera system.

Even though the Defender is an off-road vehicle, it performs great on paved roads. The suspension makes it feel smooth and sophisticated, just like a luxury vehicle should. It’s quiet in the cabin, even at high speeds, with minimal road and wind noise. All of this is somewhat unusual for an off-road vehicle and adds to the Defender’s appeal, making it a great choice for shoppers who want the best of both worlds.

The climate system does a good job of keeping the cabin comfortable, but the controls can be tricky to figure out at first. The dials serve multiple functions, handling everything from climate control and drive modes to seat heating and ventilation settings. This does save space by combining controls for different functions, so it’s not all bad despite the complexity.

The Defender has kept up with modern technology despite being out since 2020. Sitting in the line of sight is a large 11.4″ infotainment touchscreen system. The infotainment system is visually appealing and nicely integrated into the dashboard. It responds quickly to touch inputs, and although it’s user-friendly, there is a bit of a learning curve. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard and they make the infotainment experience a little better. The Defender has a highly customizable and fully digital gauge cluster, one of the better ones in the industry. It offers various layouts and customization options, including a full map view. Connectivity is also prioritized in the cabin with multiple ports, ensuring that all passengers can charge their devices.

One thing that sets the Defender apart from its competitors is the inclusion of off-road features in the infotainment system, such as slope assist, suspension wheel info, and wade sensing. These are especially useful for drivers who want to take the Defender off-road.

As for driving aids, the Defender does well at making daily life easier. The 3D surround camera and 360 parking aid assist with parking and maneuvering this large SUV. Additional features like radar cruise control and lane keep assist come in handy during rush hour traffic, assisting without being overly aggressive.

The Defender 130 offers a lot of cargo space, making it the roomiest in the lineup. With the second-row seats up, you get 1,094L of cargo area, but when you fold them down, it expands to a massive 2,078L. Thanks to a wide-opening rear door and air suspension that lowers the vehicle’s height, loading large items into the back is easy.

Is the Defender still worth considering?

Absolutely, the current generation of the Defender has been around since 2020, but it’s still among the best in its segment. It uniquely blends off-road capability with excellent on-road manners, outperforming its competitors in many aspects. However, one area that has always been a topic of controversy is its reliability. Since our testing period is limited, we can’t definitively speak to the Defender’s reliability. However, considering its time on the market and Land Rover’s warranty, most new Defender owners should find peace of mind knowing they’re covered in case of any issues. Plus, with how long the vehicle has been in the market, most smaller issues are likely ironed out.

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