Land Rover Defender review

Category: Large SUV

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:hybrid, diesel, petrol
Available colours:
Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD boot open
Add to shortlist
  • Land Rover Defender 90 2020 front
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD rear tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD dashboard
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD rear seats
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD boot open
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD front urban tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD right urban panning
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD wide front wading
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD front wading
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD uphill muddy scramble
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD tailgate open
  • Land Rover Defender 90 front left tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 90 rear tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 90 interior
  • Land Rover Defender 90 2020 front
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD rear tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD dashboard
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD rear seats
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD boot open
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD front urban tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD right urban panning
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD wide front wading
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD front wading
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD uphill muddy scramble
  • Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD tailgate open
  • Land Rover Defender 90 front left tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 90 rear tracking
  • Land Rover Defender 90 interior
RRP from£43,625
Share review

Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Defender’s starting price is broadly in line with similar off-road-focused alternatives, including the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Land Cruiser, along with premium large SUVs like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. However, venture higher up the range and the Defender's price overlaps with those of many luxury SUVs, such as the larger Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery.

If you're a private cash buyer, the Defender's exceedingly slow predicted depreciation should help keep long-term costs respectable, while PCP finance rates are competitive. Check out the latest deals over at our New Car Buying service.

The Defender will prove more expensive to fuel than many alternatives. The D200 and D240 diesels officially emit at least 232g/km of CO2, and economy is far from impressive. In our real-world tests, the 110 D240 managed just 29.9mpg; an equivalent Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90 would prove far more frugal.

Equipment, options and extras

Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD boot open

All Defenders come reasonably well equipped, so we reckon you can stick with the entry-level model and perhaps add a couple of options of your choosing. S is worth considering if you want alloy wheels and a slightly swankier interior, while SE adds useful extras such as keyless entry.

Pricier trims (HSE and upwards) are not worth the money unless you like loads of leather inside or a panoramic roof. If you're after luxury, though, we'd argue that similar-priced, road-biased luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 make more sense.

In addition to the trim levels, buyers can also choose from four design packs to further customise the look of the Defender. Some are more city orientated and add glitzy 22in wheels; others are off-road inspired with features including a ladder, roof rack and off-road tyres. There's even a satin protective wrap for the bodywork; this protects the paintwork from scratches when off-roading.

Reliability

This isn’t an area of strength for Land Rover. Indeed, the brand finished rock bottom (out of 31 manufacturers) in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey.

Fingers crossed that this latest Defender will break the mould and prove considerably more dependable than its brethren but, realistically, be prepared for some form of reliability issue and need to call on its three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. That warranty, by the way, is not as long as you get with some large SUVs, most notably the Kia Sorento, which comes with a class-leading seven-year warranty. 

Safety and security

The Defender hasn't yet been appraised for safety by Euro NCAP, but the Discovery on which it is based secured a five-star overall rating. That's reassuring. All trim levels come with lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition (displaying the current speed limit on the dashboard) as well as automatic emergency braking (AEB), which automatically hits the brakes if it senses that a collision is imminent. This can even recognise pedestrians and cyclists. 

Upgrade to SE trim and you also get blindspot monitoring, a clear exit monitor (to warn if you're about to swing open the door into the path of a cyclist) and rear cross-traffic alert, which warns you of approaching vehicles as you're reversing out onto a road. Meanwhile, range-topping HSE trim gets a dedicated Driver Assist Pack that, among other things, brings adaptive cruise control. This pack is optional on lower trims.

The outermost second-row seats in all Defenders have Isofix mounting points, but you'll need to go for SE trim or above to get Isofix on the front passenger seat. 

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Overview

The Land Rover Defender is a rugged SUV that fuses fantastic off-road ability, especially with the optional locking rear differential, with accomplished on-road manners. If that's the blend of abilities you're after, it's effectively in a class of one. But the Jeep Wrangler is even better in the rough stuff, while premium SUVs, including the Audi Q5 and Q7, are more comfortable. With its bigger boot, the 110 will make the most sense for many, but the 90 is usefully more compact and the better off-roader.

  • Excellent off road
  • Up to seven seats
  • Slow depreciation
  • Higher trim levels are very pricey
  • Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are poor
  • Tiny boot in 90 models

Also consider

Toyota Land Cruiser

2020 - present

The Toyota Land Cruiser is roomy and great off road, but it’s...

BMW X4

2020 - present

There are plenty of more practical SUVs, but few are as enjoya...

BMW X6

(2019 - 2020)

Good to drive, with an interior that’s one of the best in the...

BMW X3 M Competition

2019 - present

The first properly M-fettled X3