- Exceptional off-road ability
- Iconic looks
- Built to last
- Low-rent interior
- Limited on-road abilities
- High running costs
Iconic tough 4x4 with unbeatable off-road ability.
The Land Rover Defender is something of a British institution. It’s been with us in various forms since way back in 1948, when it was known as the Land Rover Series. Today, the Defender retains the rugged, boxy shape, and its no-nonsense off-road ability. With its limited on-road ability, stripped back interior, and clattery diesel engine, it isn’t a match for most modern SUVs on paper. But that isn’t what the Defender is all about. It’s a hard, muscular off-roader, that will eat any other SUV for breakfast. Rivals such as the Jeep Wrangler, and the Mercedes M-Class might come close, but the Defender remains, even today, the king of the hills.
Rugged utilitarian design that’s built to last.
Forget the fancy-dan contemporary aesthetics that you’d get in other SUVs. The Defender doesn’t care about style. It’s built to last, and that’s all there is to it. Don’t expect any modern electronic gizmos either. Though you can at least take advantage of the decent practicality on offer.
The dashboard design of the Defender looks and feels like it is pulled straight from the original 1948 Land Rover Series. Contemporary is not a word that should be associated with the Defender. The design is simple, tough, and utilitarian. Material quality might seem poor compared to modern rivals, with hard black plastics being used in all areas, but you can’t argue with the build quality. And as everyone knows, a Defender is built to last. Controls are pretty logically laid out, though they’re not the most pleasant to use. They do the job they’re meant to however, and for the Defender, that’s all that matters.
Practicality is a big need for buyers of SUVs, and in the Defender it depends on which model you go for. The smallest 90 model, comes only with three doors, which makes it difficult for rear passengers to jump in and out. The five door 110 model is better suited to family buyers. There are too many different setups to talk about boot capacity, but all Defender’s offer plentiful storage space. The materials used to line the interior can also be hosed down when they get muddy, which is a nice practical touch.
Equipment levels in the Defender are sparse, no matter which model you go for. The entry-level model comes with no equipment at all, with not even a stereo included. County models get a CD player, but very little else. The Heritage Edition is the best option for those wanting a few more creature comforts. It’s the most expensive Defender, but it does come with the eye-catching green paint, as well as leather interior trim.
Overall, the Defender’s interior won’t surprise many. Especially if they’ve seen a Defender before in the past 30 years. It’s much the same, but you know it’s all going to last. And with impressive practicality, it’s a car that you can keep in the family for generations to come.
Unbeatable off-road ability, but agricultural on the road.
Just by looking at the Defender you can tell it’s not going to be a great handling car on the road. The steering is imprecise, and incredibly heavy, so you really have to manhandle the Defender to get it to go where you want it to. There’s tonnes of body roll through corners as well. But again, the Defender doesn’t claim to be good at these things. Where it really impresses is when it’s off-road. It can literally cope with all conditions, no matter how bad they get. So if you live in the countryside, where there are muddy lanes, you can always count on your Defender to get you out of trouble.
Suspension and Chassis
Though the Defender does have a soft suspension, it’s not exactly comfortable on the road. It bounces over potholes and loose surfaces, but throw a mountain in front of it, and it’ll have no bother getting you up and over. Refinement is also pretty poor in the Defender. It’s not a car that you’d want to drive on the motorway very often. There’s an awful lot of road, wind, and engine noise at speed. Relaxed cruiser it is not.
Gearbox options in the Defender come only in one guise. The ever-reliable six speed Getrag manual transmission isn’t what you’d call smooth to use. It takes a good haul to get the Defender in gear, and the clutch is pretty heavy as well. But, as with the rest of the Defender, you know it’s going to last. Which for buyers who live out in the countryside, will be a huge plus.
Only one torquey diesel on offer..
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Defender, you’ve only got the one option. Hardly surprising when you look at the simplicity that the Defender shows in all other areas. It’s built for purpose, but it feels awfully dated compared to more modern engines.
The Land Rover Defender is not a car that’s built to go fast. So it’s of little surprise to see that the 2.2 litre diesel engine, taken from the Ford Transit, only produces 121bhp. The acceleration isn’t great either. 0-62mph takes a leisurely 15.8 seconds, making it one of the slowest cars on the roads. But, what really matters for the Defender is its low-end torque. The diesel engine produces 265lb/ft at 2,000rpm, which gives you plenty of low end power for trawling through mud, or towing a trailer or caravan.
The Defender might be a car that’s most at home in the great outdoors, but it certainly isn’t bothered about saving the planet. CO2 emissions range from 266g/km for the smallest entry-level 90, right the way up to 295g/km for the top spec limited edition model. These high emissions are the main reason Land Rover is having to pull the Defender from the new market. Money-savers won’t be enthralled either. All Defenders come with a huge tax bill, whilst you’ll struggle to achieve more than 25mpg in any model.
The engine in the Defender is ideally suited to off-roading, but it won’t be cheap to run. It’s hugely expensive for both fuel, and road tax, whilst the noise it makes certainly doesn’t lend itself to town driving.
Not tested by NCAP, with very little safety kit.
If there’s one worrying aspect of the Defender, it’s the fact that on paper it doesn’t appear to be very safe. Despite it being with us for decades, it has never been tested by the boffins at NCAP. So it’s hard to really know how safe the Defender would be in the event of an accident. Most worrying perhaps is the lack of airbags. It seems incredible that a car today could come without these, but this is a Defender after all. What you will get is traction, and electronic stability control as standard. Both of which should stop you having an accident at all. And with the four wheel drive system on board, poor weather conditions shouldn’t be an issue.
A great used buy, but won’t be cheap to run..
Because of the Defender’s rugged design, it should be a car that will last you a long time. And in that sense, the Defender offers great value for money. It’s definitely worth going for a used model if you can. Running costs will be high however, no matter which model you go for. Emissions are amongst the highest of all production cars, so expect a huge road tax bill each year. Whilst fuel economy is low, so you’ll need a fat wallet to run the Defender day-to-day.
One particular positive about the Defender is the low insurance groups that it offers. Compared to more modern rivals, it will be infinitely cheaper. All Defenders are either in group 9, or group 10, which is comparable with a lot of city cars.
Depreciation is a factor to consider with the Defender, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Land Rover Defender isn’t a car that’s going to give you thrills on the road, but it’ll more than make up for it off-road. The Defender is a car that is built to be tough, rough, and reliable. Don’t expect it to have the creature comforts of other modern SUVs, because you’ll only be disappointed. It won’t be cheap to run either, with a huge tax bill, and low fuel economy. But if you want an SUV that can handle all terrains, at any time of the year, and will last through generations, the Defender is still the best on offer, even after all these years.
Buying a used Land Rover Defender online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Land Rover Defender for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Defender. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Land Rover Defender online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Land Rover? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Land Rover Defender, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Defender, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Land Rover to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.