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2022 Land Rover Defender Review

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The 2022 Land Rover Defender is proof that you can have a super-capable off-road vehicle on the trails without getting beat up on the morning commute. All it takes is money, and even though the Defender starts at a higher price point than the Wrangler, Bronco and 4Runner, all of those models can creep right into the Land Rover’s territory with options. None are graced with the same refined road manners as the Land Rover, however. You pay more, but you’re also getting a more comfortable ride, a much quieter cabin and superior on-road handling. At the same time, it’s still a beast off road. Land Rover truly toed the line between rugged and luxurious with the new Defender, right down to its unique styling. Rather than recreating the look of its iconic predecessor, the Defender’s more modern look is in keeping with its overall personality that fully embraces modern design and technology.

You can have one in numerous configurations, whether it be the two-door Defender 90 or four-door Defender 110 model. Land Rover offers up a plethora of engine choices, too, including the base four-cylinder turbo, a mild-hybrid inline-six and the new-for-2022 supercharged V8. You can spec unique seating arrangements like the quirky but fun three-across front seat, or the nearly-useless third row. Plus, the ability to accessorize to fit your use after the fact is practically just limited by your imagination.

Utility is king with the Defender. Just start looking around the interior, and you’ll find all sorts of thoughtful touches like the massive abundance of storage locations, rubberized floors/seatbacks, exposed paint and bolts throughout, porthole-like windows in back and thoughtful materials use everywhere. It’s a seriously impressive effort from Land Rover, and it makes a great case for itself in the $50,000-$60,000 price bracket. It’s a bit less enticing at the top end as it starts competing with high-lux Range Rovers, but fully loaded, it could pass as a budget G-Wagen

What’s new for 2022?

Land Rover adds a V8 option for both the 90 and 110 this year that gives the Defender 518 horsepower. New trim levels and special editions also jump aboard for 2022, including a V8 Carpathian Edition to serve as the flagship model. The 90 adds new X-Dynamic SE and X-Dynamic HSE trims, while the 110 adds an XS Edition and plenty of extra appearance packages to go with.

One tech update hits the Defender, too, as Land Rover is making its bigger 11.4-inch screen (below left) optional in place of the standard 10-inch screen. The new, larger screen is much taller than the old one, though, and Land Rover says it offers 60% more screen real estate.

What are the Defender’s interior and in-car technology like?

With its bold horizontal lines, metal trim, rubber flooring, numerous grab handles and bins galore, the Defender’s cabin has an undeniably rugged and functional vibe. Certainly more so than any other Land Rover today. However, it may be rugged in appearance, but the materials used are generally top-notch stuff worthy of commanding its top-notch price tag. Top trim levels can also be spiffed up with open-pore wood trim and fancy two-tone leather choices.

Standard on every Defender is Land Rover’s Pivi Pro 10-inch wide touchscreen (above middle) interface, but 2022 adds an optional, taller 11.4-inch touchscreen (above left). Land Rover’s standard screen is handsomely sandwiched in between the dash’s prominent horizontal cross-members, it almost appears to be a cool retroactive modification. The larger screen is still sandwiched in there, but it’s not quite as elegant a look as the shorter screen. The graphics and overall aesthetic make strong initial impressions. However, the software can be slow to respond, we’ve found it to be buggy at times and the layout for certain functions such as the audio system is unusual (song info and radio presets are annoyingly found on separate pages). The widescreen also doesn’t take advantage of its super-wide layout with a split screen option. The optional all-digital instruments make a stronger impression, as they offer different design choices that’ll provide as much or as little info as you’d like. That said, we’d also be just fine with the standard analog gauge cluster and smaller central screen.

How big are the Defender 90 and Defender 110?

The answer very much depends on the Defender model. The 90’s wheelbase is 10 inches shorter and its overall length is 17 inches shorter than the 110’s – that’s significant. The result is a considerably more maneuverable vehicle off-road and a considerably smaller cargo area. Backseat legroom is actually fine, as its 36.6 inches is only 1.8 less than the notably spacious 110. Cargo space is an entirely different matter. The 90’s tiny 15.6 cubic feet is less than what you get behind the third rows of many midsize SUVs (though apparently it’s still big enough(ish) to hold a Bernese Mountain Dog). In the Defender 90, you’ll definitely need a cargo carrier or will have to leave your friends behind.

That probably won’t be necessary in the Defender 110, which has a big, boxy cargo area that we found swallows even more than its 35.4 cubic feet would indicate. There’s also plenty of thoughtful storage solutions throughout, plus highly configurable roof rails. Maximum capacity stands at 70.4 cubic feet, and the Defender has a fold-flat load floor.

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Now, the Defender 110 offers a third-row seat, but it’s so tiny and leaves even less cargo capacity behind it that it’s just not worth considering. If you need three rows, get a Land Rover Discovery and just lament the fact that it’s not cool and boxy like the Defender or the old LR4.

What are the Defender fuel economy and performance specs?

The standard Defender engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is on board along with a permanent four-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy is 17 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined in the 110 (the 90 is 18/21/19), and Land Rover says the 110 will go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. Both of these are unimpressive for a luxury SUV of its size (think a BMW X5), but also not bad for a heavy off-roading SUV.

The optional 3.0-liter inline-six features a smorgasbord of power-enhancing elements: a turbocharger, an electric supercharger and a mild-hybrid system. Output is a significant step up at 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet. The 0-60 time falls to 5.8 seconds in the 110 and 5.7 for the 90 (despite the dimensional differences, the smaller version only weighs 200 pounds less). Fuel economy increases slightly to 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined and is the same for both body styles.

The new V8 option is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that produces a stout 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. It gets bespoke transmission settings from the eight-speed automatic and is capable of sending the Defender 90 from 0-60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. Fuel economy suffers, as the 110 V8 is rated at 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. The 90 is nearly identical, but its city rating ticks up to 15 mpg.

What’s the Defender like to drive?

Like other Land Rovers, the Defender’s air suspension results in a controlled, buttery smooth ride that’s better than the vast majority of other SUVs, let alone rugged off-roaders like the Wrangler, Bronco and 4Runner. The 90’s short wheelbase brings harsher truck-like responses to potholes, but it’s still more comfortable than competitors. Its steering is slow and requires plenty of turning per the off-roading norm, but it’s also incredibly precise and provides impressive feedback for something so capable of climbing rocks. The long-travel brake pedal will definitely take some getting used to if you’re coming from a crossover or car, but the brakes are easily modulated and you get used to them. In total, there’s really no contest when it comes to on-road drivability between the Defender and those other off-roading competitors. Of course, the Land Rover is also a lot more expensive.

Off-road, we found it to be just as impressive thanks to its stiff “D7x” all-aluminum unibody, class-topping approach and departure angles, optional adjustable air suspension, new screen-based Terrain Response system, two-speed transfer case, and with the 3.0-liter engine option, a standard locking center differential and optional active rear-locking diff. Those are joined to systems that — should you choose — take all the guesswork out of four-wheeling, including a water-depth wading sensor and a camera view that essentially makes the hood disappear. This is an invaluable feature when negotiating rocks or cresting a hill without a spotter – is that an equal slope on the other side or a precipice? Of course, opting for the 90 brings its own inherent advantages to off-roading if you’re tackling tight and technical terrain.

As for the engines, the base inline-four’s 0-60 time won’t wow, but its abundant torque and smart ZF automatic transmission should make it feel quick enough. Perhaps more to the point, the turbocharged, supercharged and mild-hybrid 395-hp inline-six very much seems like overkill. In our 200-plus miles behind the wheel on a trip up and over Oregon’s coastal mountains, we never came close to needing its full potential despite climbing steep grades and passing slower vehicles. It also adds even more complexity to an already complex vehicle from a brand with decades of questionable reliability.

We have yet to drive the V8, but we’ll update this review after getting behind the wheel of what will certainly be an audible treat of an off-roader.

What other Land Rover Defender reviews can I read?

2021 Land Rover Defender 90 Off-Road Review | No Time to Dry

We take the Defender 90 for a romp through an off-road course to see how Land Rover’s two-door handles the rough stuff.

 

Land Rover Defender 110 Luggage Test | Boxy is better

Taking a close look at all the Defender’s many cargo-related features and design elements, plus how much it can bit behind its back seat (the picture below is a hint).

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2020 Land Rover Defender Interior Tour

A closer look at the interiors of both the Defender 110 and Defender 90.

 

2021 Land Rover Defender 90 First Drive Review | Turning heads on and off the beaten path

Our first go-round in the two-door Defender where we talk shop and provide initial driving impressions.

 

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 First Drive | As good as you hoped

Our first drive on American soil of the Defender 110, including off-roading driving impressions. 

 

2020 Land Rover Defender British First Drive

British correspondent Andrew English drives the Defender on its home turf.

2021 Land Rover Defender 110 PHEV

 

2021 Land Rover Defender 110 in Colorado

We make the Defender look pretty in this exclusive video of the Defender in beautiful Colorado.

 

How much is the 2022 Land Rover Defender price and what features are available?

Pricing starts at $49,050, including the $1,350 destination charge for the 2022 Defender 90, a $1,600 increase versus last year. The Defender 110 starts at $51,850, which is identical to the 2021 price. Each is available with different trim levels, but the 110 has one more than the 90. One important trim level item to note is that the inline-six engine becomes standard on the X-Dynamic S trim of the 90 and SE trim of the 110. Base trims below those make do with the four-cylinder.

Despite being expensive, the Defender 90 and 110 are at least well-equipped. Besides the air suspension, it comes with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, automatic-leveling LED headlights, heated power-folding mirrors, “Alpine Lights” (those little skylights in the roof), 18-inch gloss white steel wheels, proximity entry and push-button start, rubber flooring, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, fabric upholstery, eight-way power front seats, 40/20/40-split rear seats, dual-zone climate control, numerous driver assist systems (see Safety section below), a 10-inch touchscreen, a wireless phone charger, integrated navigation, in-car Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system and HD radio.

That’s a lot of stuff, and apart from maybe upgrading the wheels to alloy (but the steelies sure do look cool) and the upholstery to leather, we don’t think the SE trim and/or adding many options is that necessary. The fancy-pants upper trim levels really aren’t needed, and seem a bit anathema to the Defender’s rugged character.

Still, you can find a full breakdown of their features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog. Note the X-Dynamic trim levels largely signify appearance packages.

Defender 90: $49,050
Defender 90 S: $52,450
Defender 90 X-Dynamic S: $60,850
Defender 90 X-Dynamic SE: $66,450
Defender 90 X-Dynamic HSE: $69,600
Defender 90 X: $84,850
Defender 90 V8: $98,550
Defender 90 V8 Carpathian Edition: $105,350

Defender 110: $51,850
Defender 110 S: $55,350
Defender 110 SE: $66,450
Defender 110 X-Dynamic SE: $69,350
Defender 110 X-Dynamic HSE: $73,850
Defender 110 XS Edition: $73,250
Defender 110 X: $87,350
Defender 110 V8: $101,750
Defender 110 V8 Carpathian Edition: $108,550

Finally, Land Rover offers a wealth of special accessories for the Defender, both as separate pieces and within packages. You can see some of these below. 

2020 Land Rover Defender 1102020 Land Rover Defender 110

What are the Defender safety ratings and driver assistance features

Standard on every Defender is forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, a driver inattention warning system, a 360-degree parking camera and wade sensing (basically a sonar system that can tell you how deep water is). Adaptive cruise control is a stand-alone option.

The Defender had not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.

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