The 2021 Land Rover Defender offers is an adventure mobile with undeniable capability—and desirability. Its design is technically retro, but it represents a modern twist on the legendary Defender from the previous generation.

2021 Land Rover Defender

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is powered by a standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Of course, every model features all-wheel drive and locking differentials for navigating treacherous terrain.

The Defender is also available with a 3.0-liter inline-six. Along with turbocharging, the upgraded engine utilizes an electric supercharger and 48-volt hybrid system. Unlike its predecessor, the Defender has a unibody construction versus a body-on-frame setup, and it replaces the old solid axles with a fully independent suspension.

The latter comes standard with coil springs, but it can be upgraded with an air suspension that allows adjustable ride height. The Defender also has 11.5 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford through 35.4 inches of water, which exceeds both the Jeep Wrangler‘s maximum clearance and its wading ability.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The EPA’s fuel economy ratings for the various 2021 Land Rover Defender models are fairly similar regardless of what’s under the hood. The 90 model with the four-cylinder receives ratings of 18 mpg city and 21 highway.

Step up to the six-cylinder engine and the 90’s city rating drops to 17 mpg but the highway rating goes up to 22. The 110 model with the six-cylinder engine actually has the same estimates as the six-cylinder 90. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, a Defender 110X with the optional six-cylinder powertrain delivered a disappointing 18 mpg.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The 2021 Land Rover Defender‘s cabin walks the line between premium and utilitarian, with just enough design cues from the rest of the Land Rover lineup to make those familiar with the brand feel right at home. Exposed rivets in the door panels add a particularly rugged appearance, and a magnesium beam that runs the full width of the dashboard isn’t entirely cosmetic—it’s also structural.

Under the infotainment display, a trapezoidal extension of the dashboard provides a place for buttons and switches for the climate-control system and driving mode. The shift lever and ignition switch are also mounted on this center stack rather than the center console. In some models, the center console can be flipped back to create a jump

seat between the 2021 Land Rover Defender driver and passenger, similar to a three-across bench in some full-size pickup trucks. Cargo space behind the rear seat is somewhat limited, but on par with rival off-roaders such as the Jeep Wrangler; the rear seats can be folded to open up a much larger cargo bay, but those seeking to haul people and gear may want to look at the larger Land Rover Discovery or invest in a roof-top cargo carrier.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have released crash test results for the new Defender. Among the slew of available driver-assistance technology, the Rover has several unique systems tailored for off-roading and towing. Key safety features include:

Full Specifications

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE AS TESTED
$82,575 (base price: $63,600)

ENGINE TYPE
supercharged, turbocharged, and intercooled inline-6; aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement
183 in3, 2996 cm3
Power
395 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque
406 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

TRANSMISSION
8-speed automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.3-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure, 255/60R-20 113H M+S LR

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 119.0 in
Length: 197.6 in
Width: 78.6 in
Height: 80.6 in
Passenger volume: 132 ft3
Cargo volume: 11 ft3
Curb weight: 5773 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.3 sec
100 mph: 17.3 sec
120 mph: 33.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.0 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
1/4 mile: 14.8 sec @ 94 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 120 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 204 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.70 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rolloutof 0.3 sec.

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 15 mpg

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 19/17/22 mpg

2021 Land Rover Defender 90

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5–6-passenger, 2-door wagon

BASE PRICE
P300, $47,450; P400, $59,150

ENGINES
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 296 hp, 295 lb-ft; turbocharged, supercharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, 395 hp, 406 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION
8-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 101.9 in
Length: 180.4 in
Width: 78.6 in
Height: 77.5 in
Passenger volume: 102 ft3
Cargo volume: 16 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 5200–5400 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 6.0–7.9 sec
100 mph: 17.0–18.9 sec
1/4 mile: 14.5–16.4 sec
Top speed: 120 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 19/17–18/21–22 mpg

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