2023 Land Rover Defender

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2023 Land Rover Defender Review: New Three-Row Option Completes The Range

It has serious off-road chops, is dressed to recall its classic forebears, and can be as plush or as simple as you wish. This combination resonates with buyers and has turned the new-generation Land Rover Defender SUV into a worldwide sales hit. First launched in the USA for the 2020 model year, more Defender models followed. The range expansion continues for 2023, with the arrival of a third body style named the 130. Its extra length is the result of a much longer rear overhang, which enables Land Rover to fit third-row seating; however, the new 2023 Defender 130 is nearly as capable off-road as its siblings.

Engine options range from a 2.0-liter twin-turbo gas engine to a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six mild hybrid gas unit, capped by the 5.0-liter supercharged V8. All Defenders feature full-time all-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the range. Competitors to the 2023 Land Rover Defender include the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, and Lexus GX. The Defender is by far the most sophisticated of this group because it's derived from the D7 platform upon which the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport are built. As we found in our Land Rover Defender test review, this gives the Defender on-road manners few would expect from such an off-road-biased vehicle.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 10 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 6 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
8.1
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2023 Land Rover Defender Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 Defender?

The Defender's big news for 2023 is the arrival of the extra-length 130 bodyshell, which allows for three-row seating and accommodations for up to eight occupants, and includes some features that are not standard on the lower-rung 90 and 110 models, such as an 11.4-inch infotainment screen. The Pivi pro infotainment system also receives a light update across the range, with Amazon Alexa now embedded in the system. The lineup has been streamlined with fewer trims to make ordering easier. Among the smaller changes is the availability of a new leatherette upholstery option.

Two new special editions have also been announced, joining the 250 examples of the Trophy Edition announced in mid-2022. The first of these is the 110-based 30th Anniversary Edition, of which 500 examples will be made, all with the entry-level four-cylinder engine. This model can be distinguished by its white paintwork and steel wheels. The second new special edition is called the 75th Limited Edition, meant to commemorate the original Land Rover's 75th birthday, which can be distinguished by Grasmere Green paintwork, 20-inch alloy wheels, and fabric sunroof. The 75th Limited Edition is only available with the P400 (hybrid inline-six) powertrain.

Pros and Cons

  • Extremely capable off-road and refined on-road
  • Lots of off-road and safety tech
  • Decent engine selection
  • Distinctive styling
  • Wide array of options
  • Small trunk and difficult rear-seat access in the 90
  • 130's third row is cramped
  • Expensive options
  • The V8 is very thirsty

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2023 Land Rover Defender Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
110
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$53,500
90 S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$55,100
110 S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$58,300
90 SE
3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$66,100
130 S
3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$68,000
See All 2023 Land Rover Defender Trims and Specs

2023 Land Rover Defender Handling and Driving Impressions

Logic dictates that a tall vehicle like the Land Rover Defender would be hopeless around corners, but this is not the case here. Cornering is secure with surprisingly little body roll, although there's no disguising the Defender's heft when the road turns twisty - even in basic three-door 90 form with the smallest engine, it has a curb weight of over 4,500 lbs. Due to the Defender's high center of gravity, grip levels are moderate even on performance tires, with the stability control cutting in early to induce moderate understeer rather than allowing the car to become unstable. But, up until those limits, the steering is responsive and accurate, with good weighting and some communication from the front tires to the driver.

As for performance, while the base 2.0-liter engine in the P300 variants gets the job done, the inline six is the one you want, and the V8 exists mainly for performance freaks with deep pockets. The base powertrain delivers 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, which translates to a 0-60 mph dash in around 7.2 seconds. Stepping up to the mild-hybrid P400, the outputs rise to 395 hp and 406 lb-ft and the 0-60 mph dash drops to about 6.1 seconds, while the supercharged V8 cuts that to around five seconds. They're all pretty quick, but they're also all rather thirsty, with the V8 drinking by far the most with a combined figure of around 16 mpg.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Land Rover Defender A Good SUV?

The Land Rover Defender is one of the best genuinely off-road-capable vehicles on the market today. Its combination of charming styling and modern tech makes it a great all-rounder SUV, with off-roading ability right at the top of its segment but without the on-road negatives incurred by its competitors. It's also high-tech inside and out, and there are lots of (expensive) options to choose from if you want to personalize one to your taste.

There are some things to note, though: The 90 body is cute and stubby, but has handling and practicality downsides due to its short wheelbase. While 90 and 110 offer identical and generous cabin space, getting into the back of a 90 is inconvenient due to its two-door configuration, and its cargo volume is insufficient to carry all those passengers' chattel. The 130 is much better in this regard, but its third row is quite cramped. The best pick in the range features a 110 body with an inline-six engine, giving the best compromise between practicality, maneuverability, performance, and relative fuel efficiency.

2023 Land Rover Defender Popular Comparisons

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