Road test | Land Rover Defender: the adventurous bourgeois

Except for the insiders of the legendary brand of adventurers, the Land Rover Defender does not enjoy here a notoriety equivalent to that of the Jeep Wrangler. The end of its marketing on the North American market in 1997, due to more stringent safety standards, undoubtedly partly explains this finding. The fact remains that this pure SUV, whose roots go back to the Series 1 born in 1948, is a real institution for the British. It returned to Canada last year with a completely modernized and very charming reissue.

Posted on July 28, 2021 at 11:45 a.m.

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Charles René

Charles René La Presse



Still cubic, but with softer edges, the Defender preserves its reduced overhangs to their simplest form.

Bearing in mind its genesis personified by the Series models long glorified by the British Crown throughout the Commonwealth – The Crown series portrays it very well – this 21st century Defender visually retains its utilitarian bent. Always cubic, but with soft edges, it preserves its overhangs reduced to their simplest expression. This gives it an obstacle attack angle of up to 37.5 degrees with the air suspension, less than the 41.8 degrees of the Wrangler Sahara. However, it regains its ground clearance which can climb up to 291 mm and the starting angle of 40 degrees. That said, the Defender displays a very nice sophistication without forcing too much note, an element that is cultivated in the details of its front optics and rear lights, cleverly composed of diodes describing circles and squares to break with their apparent simplicity. It is also offered in a version with three or five doors, respectively 4.3 m and 4.8 m long.

On board


This SUV invites us to a presentation that juggles admirably well with industrial style and the practicality prescribed by its mandate.

The Defender’s posture has changed greatly here. Previously seen as a product absorbed in its utilitarian side which encroached on its overall refinement, it is now truly a luxury vehicle. However, don’t expect him to give up his DNA. The SUV invites us to a presentation that juggles admirably well with industrial styling and the practicality prescribed by its mandate. The bolts exposed on the inside of the doors as well as the color of the exterior panels seen from the passenger compartment reflect this tastefully. Land Rover also uses rubberized materials throughout as well as splash resistant fabrics to ensure durability. The dashboard is essentially a large storage tray that complements those placed in the usual places. The Defender is also extremely spacious, an airy appearance made possible by a very high roof. The legroom is also excellent everywhere when opting for the long livery tested and you can add two additional seats behind.

Under the hood


This new in-line six-cylinder employing a mild hybrid system is particularly well suited to the Defender thanks to its large torque reserve in addition to presenting the characteristic smoothness of this configuration.

Two engines share the Defender’s options book for the 2021 model year: a turbocharged four-cylinder and an equally turbocharged six-cylinder. It was the 3.0L in-line six-cylinder from Jaguar-Land Rover’s new family of Ingenium engines that kept the model tested. It is supported by a small electric compressor which fills the hollows of the turbocharger. A starter-alternator completes this mild hybrid system powered by a small 48V battery. The assembly produces 395 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. It is above all the smoothness of this configuration that we retain at the start, and then its nervousness at low revs, a characteristic sought after for off-road driving. Power is also produced at a sustained 5500-6500 rpm, which supports excellent smoothness over a large portion of the rev range. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission completes the picture with its usual brilliance.

Behind the wheel


The optional Terrain Response 2 system can continuously adjust to various surfaces and control the vehicle’s descent rate.

Obviously, we cannot ignore the immense dynamic abilities of this Defender when venturing out of the road network (or on certain sections of Quebec, it depends). These very high limits are attributable, as pointed out before, to its unibody chassis designed expressly for the brutality of the exercise. The optional Terrain Response 2 system also has a role to play. As one all-wheel drive equipped with a two-speed transfer case, it can continuously adjust to various surfaces and control the vehicle’s descent speed. An optional electronic winch can also get you out of bed when needed. However, the Defender is not just a utility vehicle: when it is equipped with the air suspension, it isolates the interior admirably from the rough edges, allowing a remarkable level of comfort. The soundproofing and the precision of its direction also make it very pleasant on a daily basis.

Embedded technologies


The manufacturer has integrated various features to support off-road driving, including a sensor that can measure the depth of the water.

For the most part, the Defender carries the technological hardware used in the most recent Jaguar-Land Rover models. Its 10-inch screen isn’t the largest, but it does have the advantage of responding well to touchscreen operations. Its definition is good and the menus can be consulted without too much acrobatics. The manufacturer has integrated various features to support off-road driving, including a sensor that can measure the depth of the water. It is coupled with a second screen working to inform the driver of essential driving data. There, navigation is done by means of buttons on the steering wheel which change function depending on the menu selected. A false good idea that quickly becomes a source of distraction. The standard Meridian system (380 W) also has astonishing sound quality, despite its limited power. Finally, note that the adaptive cruise control is not enshrined as standard in most liveries, which should be corrected.

The verdict


Commercial vehicles are currently enjoying immense popularity, which is good news for Land Rover.

The new Land Rover Defender could not have hatched in a better context. Commercial vehicles are currently enjoying immense popularity, as recalled by the great noise made by the resurrection of the Ford Bronco. Beyond this situation, it is also an extremely well thought out vehicle and much easier to approach than the previous generation. Its price range, starting under $ 60,000, is also competitive, if one avoids the excessive overlap of options. Its interior is spacious and flexible and its road handling is in no way altered by its identity as an adventurer. It also comes with a six-cylinder engine that suits it very well, ensuring reasonable fuel consumption for the type of vehicle (12 L / 100 km during the test period). However, it remains to prove itself in terms of reliability, a weak point of the brand which the president of Jaguar-Land Rover, Thierry Bolloré, wants to tackle. But, all in all, it is excellent work.


Very sophisticated suspension

Unlike many SUVs designed to navigate rough roads, the Defender is equipped with independent four-wheel suspension and air shock absorbers as standard on extended liveries (110), which allows for better handling on pavement, among other things. normal.

Outstanding towing capacity

The Land Rover Defender has a towing capacity of 3,500 kg, which is significantly higher than many SUVs and crossovers.

Ready for camping

The manufacturer offers as an option the possibility of equipping the Defender with a tent on the roof, which is possible thanks to its robustness, allowing a static load of 300 kg.

Cargo volume

Accessible through a side-hinged tailgate, the Defender’s cargo space behind the rear seats is 972 L for the five-door (110) livery and 297 L for the three-door body.

Indirect competition

Positioned between the more affordable backpackers (Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco) and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the Defender is in a way in a no man’s land with regard to its pricing strategy.

Technical sheet

Model under test: Land Rover Defender 110 P400 X-Dynamic SE
Engine: L6 DOHC 3.0L Turbocharged and Light Hybrid
Power: 395 hp @ 5,500 to 6,500 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Drive architecture: front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
Consumption (manufacturer): 12.3 L / 100 km (super)
Price (with options): $ 92,390 (price range between $ 59,700 and $ 96,000)
Competitors: Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler
New in 2021? No major changes

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