The 2022 Land Rover Defender may resemble the original from the 1950s, but it is a wholly contemporary, high-tech off-roader with distinct curb appeal. A turbocharged four-cylinder, a turbo-and-supercharged six-cylinder, and a supercharged V-8 engine are all available, and all come standard with four-wheel drive. The Defender comes in two body styles: two-door 90 and four-door 110, with sophisticated off-roading technology including adjustable air suspension and locking differentials available on all variants. There aren’t many SUVs that can match the Defender’s capabilities, and they’re largely from Land Rover. Although the Jeep Wrangler is a more affordable option, the Defender outperforms it in terms of on-road refinement and accessible luxury features.
For 2022, Land Rover will add a V-8 engine to the Defender lineup: the 518-horsepower Supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 seen in Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. The V-8 engine will be offered on both the two-door 90 and four-door 110 variants, as well as a high-end Carpathian Edition vehicle. The new XS grade is available on 110 models and includes heated and cooled front seats, leather and cloth upholstery, three-zone automatic temperature control, adjustable air suspension, and adaptive cruise control, among other luxury and convenience options. This year, Land Rover will also provide a new 11.4-inch infotainment display as an option, as well as more accessory external kits for personalization. A three-row Defender 130 model is on the way, but there’s no word on when it’ll be released. This year, the Trophy Edition model joins the roster, but only 220 will be made available, each with a complimentary admission to a Land Rover off-road competition in North Carolina in the fall of 2021.
Performance, Transmission, and Engine
A standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automated transmission powers the 2022 Defender. For tackling rough terrain, each model comes standard with four-wheel drive and locking differentials. A 3.0-liter inline-six engine with an electric supercharger and a 48-volt hybrid system is also available for the Defender. The 518-hp supercharged V-8, which Land Rover says can propel the Defender to 60 mph in in 4.9 seconds, is available to buyers looking for more power. Unlike its predecessor, the Defender is built on a unibody rather than a body-on-frame platform, and the solid axles have been replaced with completely independent suspension. Coil springs are used in the standard suspension, although air springs may be added for a more flexible ride height. The Defender has 11.5 inches of ground clearance and can ford 35 inches of water, both of which are higher than the Jeep Wrangler’s maximum clearance and wading capacity.
Real-World MPG and Fuel Economy
Regardless of what’s behind the hood, the EPA’s fuel efficiency figures for the many Defender models are very comparable. The four-cylinder 90 model gets 18 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. When you upgrade to a six-cylinder engine, the city figure lowers to 17 mpg, but the highway rating rises to 22 mpg. The six-cylinder 110 model has the same estimations as the six-cylinder 90 model. The new V-8 variant’s fuel efficiency ratings have yet to be revealed by the EPA. A Defender 110X with the optional six-cylinder motor returned a mediocre 18 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test. Visit the EPA’s website for additional information on the Defender’s fuel efficiency.
Cargo, Interior, and Comfort
The cabin of the Defender is a combination of stylish and functional, with just enough design elements from the rest of the Land Rover series to make fans happy. Exposed rivets in the door panels give the car a tough look, and a magnesium beam that spans the length of the dashboard isn’t just for show—also it’s functional. A trapezoidal expansion of the dashboard under the infotainment display houses the climate-control system and driving mode buttons and switches. Instead of the center console, the shift lever and ignition switch are located on this middle stack. The center console may be flipped back in some versions to form a jump seat between the driver and passenger, similar to the three-across bench found in some full-size pickup trucks. The storage capacity behind the back seats is minimal, but comparable to other off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler; the rear seats can be folded to open up a considerably bigger cargo compartment, but anyone want to transport people and stuff should choose the larger Land Rover Discovery or a roof-top load carrier.
Driver-Assistance and Safety Features
The Rover includes numerous specific systems geared for off-roading and towing among the myriad of available driver-assistance technologies. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites for more information on the Defender’s crash-test results. The following are important safety features:
- Pedestrian recognition and standard autonomous emergency braking
- Lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist is standard.
- Adaptive cruise control is a feature that is available.