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The midsize luxury SUV category of 2023 is hard to break into. Many automakers have been building reliable and luxurious sport utility vehicles for the masses for decades. However, the 2023 Land Rover Defender is consistently at the back of the pack and has a higher cost. Is the Defender the worst midsize luxury SUV of 2023?

What is the worst midsize luxury SUV of 2023?

Every publication will have its own rating system, but the 2023 Land Rover Defender seems to fall behind in each one. Car and Driver ranked it almost last in its midsize luxury SUVs of 2023 category, noting that it fell short in cargo space and fuel economy. Even though Land Rover offers the Defender in 18 (yes, 18) trim levels for 2023, each has drawbacks. The MSRP runs from $68,000 for the S to $118,400 for the V8 Carpathian Edition.

It isn’t so much that the Defender is a bad vehicle, but it gets easily outperformed and out-luxuried by the competition. The Land Rover Defender has been on the market for a long time and still offers a comfortable cabin with a few engine choices. Off-roading is expected in the Defender, and it does deliver on that promise.

There are a few different body styles, two-door or four-door options, and multiple lengths to choose from. Land Rover added a third row to bump the seating capacity to eight, but the cargo space disappeared. All three rows are comfortable for adults but don’t plan to bring any luggage on the trip.

Land Rover had one of the worst-rated luxury SUVs of 2023

Edmunds didn’t put the Land Rover Defender in last place for 2023, but it didn’t land anywhere near the top either. It still has all of the off-road capability drivers might expect from the brand but still gets outranked by other SUVs in the segment. Combined fuel economy is between 16 and 20 mpg, one of the worst in the midsize luxury SUV category.

Beyond that, the Defender received praise for its off-road capability and customization from the factory. Those customizations and higher trim levels quickly jump in price, taking the Land Rover upwards of $90,000 without much effort. Land Rover says it simplified the lineup for easier ordering, but there are still 18 trims and countless ways to build the SUV.

Compared to the off-road competition, such as the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler, that $90,00 would go a lot further. However, neither of those options offers the luxury that the Defender does.

Reliability is more important than ever

These luxury SUVs of 2023 were some of the worst-rated
2023 Land Rover Defender SUVs | Range Rover

Consumer Reports also placed the Defender on its list of worst midsize luxury SUVs of 2023, but that isn’t uncommon. Almost all of the Land Rover lineup is on a list of worst SUVs from Consumer Reports due to a lack of reliability and consumer satisfaction.

For upwards of $70,000, the 2023 Defender has too many mixed reviews to be a good choice for all shoppers. Those looking for an off-road vehicle with plenty of seating might find enough positives in the 2023 Land Rover Defender to overlook the rest. Otherwise, similar vehicles offer more luxury at a lower price.


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