This week we are reviewing the Land Rover Defender 90 P400 X-Dynamic S. Our vehicle was assembled at the Nitra plant in Slovakia and has an MSRP of $89,140.00 CAD.
Fun Factor: 9
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: N/A
City Cruising: 6
We sometimes get the question of why someone would even buy Land Rovers. And, my first question to them have you driven one? Once you have drive one, even if you have to deal with all the gremlins, the driving enjoyment is unparalleled in its segment. If you'd ask me tomorrow what vehicle we would get to cross Canada in all its glory east to west and south to the most northern part, it would surely be a Defender. Why did we like it so much? It's just so capable; the inline-6 makes a whopping 395hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. It was taking the acceleration to 100km/h in 6 seconds. The on-road capability is so impressive; normally, off-road vehicles drive somewhat unpleasantly on the pavement. This is not the case with the Defender; both on-road and off-road, you have the confidence of pushing it to its limits.
The Defender 90 comes in 2 flavours for seating capacity, one as a 5 seater like the one we've tested, and there is an option 6 seater option that gives you the possibility to sit 3 in front and 3 in the back. The interior is very much oriented to the vehicle's off-road prowess with materials that you can easily hose down to clean the interior. This is especially interesting with kids; in the instance where ice cream falls on the seats, it's not going to be an expensive clean-up. The rear seating capacity is surprisingly good on this 3-door; we were able to fit comfortably 5 without anyone being tight. Now to get to the back row, that does take a little acrobatics. Since the vehicle is high off the ground, getting to the back row can be challenging even in its lowest setting. Once inside, you need to slide the seat to its most forward position and slide yourself to the back. The center console hides a little fridge that could cool our kids' drinks in this warm weather.
Now, for our fuel-economy test, we need to advise that we never got the start/stop function to work during our test. Nor did we see the mild hybrid function do its work and hence seemed not to work either. As a result, the fuel economy is off the charts compared to what Land Rover announces. When we talked about electric gremlins, this is one of 3 items that haunted us during our test; we will discuss the second one a little lower. We averaged 17.2L/100km in the city during our test and 15.7L/100km over a 450km distance. On the Hwy, we averaged 12.5L/100km. These tests were performed with premium fuel as required. Land Rover announces the following fuel economy, 13.5L/100km, while on the Hwy, they announce 10.8L/100km with a combined result of 12.3L/100km.
On the Hwy, the driving experience is pleasant. Luckily, since we were unable to get the cruise control to work, the vehicle would advise of it being functional; however, it would slow down. On the other hand, the blind-spot monitoring worked great, and the ride, even over bumpy roads, at speeds that would not be possible in other vehicles, made this experience fun.
Now to the biggest annoyance during our test was the audio system. We might have gotten it to work for maybe 20-30 min, and the remainder of the time, the system would crackle whatever features I used it for. Whether it was the radio or making a phone call, it was unusable during our test. For the infotainment, Land Rover makes the system very compact. Once familiar with the system, it will be easy to use as everything can be set up based on preferences. The setup of Android Auto and Apple Car Play is easy and worked without any hiccups.
While the Defender 3 door variant can accommodate car seats, getting them into the vehicle will require patience as you either have to squeeze it through the front door or fold one of the rear seats to get into the back row. Once inside, the installation is quite simple; the ports are a little hidden but are very easy to latch same goes for the rear anchor found on the back of the seat. Surprisingly for a 2 door vehicle, the rear-facing car seat will not eat up any of the front passenger's space. Kids will require help getting into the vehicle as there is no step to get into the Defender. The same goes when kids need to exit; the mechanism to push forward the seat is quite hard and will require adult help. Additionally, you will need to help them up and, in certain cases, even pull them up into the vehicle, even if it's at the lowest height.
Our city experience was somewhat hindered by the start/stop system not being functional. At the same time, its compact size and the mild-hybrid system would make it the ideal off-roader for the urban dwellers that need to hit the trails during the weekend to pull off steam. Yes, the turning radius is very livable if you have to park into tight parking spots. The 360 degrees camera view shows you what's around the vehicle and shows you what's underneath, giving you an additional assurance off-road. The air suspension works wonders in the city; even if roads were in their worst conditions, they were no match for the Defender.
Why would we buy the 2021 Land Rover Defender 90, or what we liked about it? It's off-road and on-road prowess, the comfort while driving it, the attention it brings; Land Rover knows how to make SUVs that drive nicely.
Why would we not buy the 2021 Land Rover Defender 90 or what we did not like about it? The electric gremlins we encountered during our test, from the sound system to the start-stop features to the electric moon roof not wanting to close in certain instances. Land Rover needs to work on these electric annoyances, especially for the price these vehicles are being sold.
Land Rover has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Land Rover Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.