2021 Is Already a Better Year for the Land Rover Defender

After sitting stagnant for decades, the Land Rover Defender underwent a major redesign in 2020. While it was met with high praise from reviewers, being released during a pandemic meant the Defender likely had slightly lower sales than it otherwise would have throughout an average year. Fortunately, these numbers are on the rise — and 2021 is looking better than ever for the new Defender.

The reappearance of the Land Rover Defender

Although the Land Rover Defender is not a brand-new vehicle, it had not been fully redesigned for several decades prior to 2020. Once it launched, however, reviewers began heaping praise upon it.

MotorTrend ranks this vehicle as No. 1 in Luxury Midsize SUVs, giving it an impressive overall score of 7.8/10. In fact, reviewers were so pleased with the Defender that they named it the 2021 MotorTrend SUV of the Year.

The Defender features a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that makes 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six that makes 395 hp is also available. This SUV has an MSRP of $50,000 and is now available with a full two-door lineup for 2021.

Its major competitors are off-road SUVs such as the Ford Bronco and Lexus GX. However, MotorTrend notes that prospective buyers are likely to be comparing the Defender to mainstream luxury SUVs as well.

Pros and cons of the Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The 2020 Land Rover Defender | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

According to MotorTrend, some of the biggest strengths of the Land Rover Defender are its style, comfortable cabin, and impressive off-road capabilities. In fact, reviewers call the Defender “Land Rover’s most off-roadable model,” making it an excellent choice for folks who want to go adventuring without sacrificing comfort. Its strength in this area comes largely from its four-wheel-drive system, as well as its various off-road driving modes.

The fact that the Defender performs well off-road is an important selling point, as this is what it was originally known for. Reviewers even note that given the new Defender’s comfortable, modern interior, they initially doubted its ability to live up to the rugged strength of the original model.

Ultimately, however, they found that while the new Defender may be stylistically different, it “maintains the legendary original’s go-anywhere, do-anything attitude.” In addition to its stellar off-roading performance, the Defender can tow up to 8,201 pounds. 

An abundance of safety features come standard on this vehicle, including traffic sign recognition, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring. Each Defender also features a 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. 

There are a few downsides to the Defender, though. MotorTrend notes that the optional third row is uncomfortably small, and the standard engine isn’t as efficient as it could be. Additionally, the base model’s 5-year cost to own is $59,472, which MotorTrend ranks as “Poor.”

Rapidly growing sales

The Land Rover Defender’s advantages far outweigh its shortcomings, a fact which we see reflected in the sales data reported by GoodCarBadCar. Sales of the Defender started slowly in 2020, with just 108 units sold in April, 240 in May, and 252 in June. However, those numbers rose throughout the year, with 2,776 units ultimately sold in December. In total, 9,100 Defenders were sold in 2020.

Given the turmoil caused by the pandemic, the Defender’s steadily rising sales numbers are impressive — and 2021 is looking even better. The Defender has already sold 4,913 units in 2021, meaning that in Q1 alone, it has sold half the number of units sold in all of 2020.

Its stylish appearance, comfortable cabin, and powerful off-roading abilities all combine to make the new Land Rover Defender a competitive option. If current trends continue, it is set to perform phenomenally well in the rest of 2021.

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