The 2021 Land Rover Defender killed the 2021 Jeep Wrangler on Consumer Reports

As always, comparing two different vehicles can be tricky. Unlike many other popular off-roaders like the Toyota 4Runner, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler and the 2021 Land Rover Defender have come from full circle from their earlier forms. They were both tractor-esq 4x4s for decades before reinventing themselves as upscale versions of their previous selves. Oh, and Consumer Reports kinda hates both of them. 

Consumer Reports picked the 2021 Landa Rover Defender over the 2021 Jeep Wrangler

It is interesting that Consumer Reports really seems to despise the 2021 Jeep Wrangler. Literally, every other 4×4 not only scored better than the Jeep, but they pretty much all scored way better. The Land Rover Defender isn’t a major hit with CR either, but they liked it a hell of a lot more than the Wrangler. It is interesting that they hated the Jeep so much because owners tend to not only love them but be devoted to the brand. 

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 off-roading
2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 392 | Jeep

The Land Rover Defender is a living legend 

Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Land Rover Defender a 45/100, which firmly lands it on the “not recommended list.” Still, it nearly doubled the Wrangler’s score. The Defender’s score is a little misleading. For the most part, the testers at Consumer Reports liked most of the Defender’s aspects, but the predicted reliability completely killed any progress made with its charm. 

This is a tricky one because Land Rover as a brand has struggled with reliability for a while, but the Defender hasn’t been in modern production in a long time. Basically, CR is basing its reliability score on other models. The logic is sound, but the application might prove to be faulty. Only time will tell. 

a silver 2021 Land Rover Defender
2021 Land Rover Defender

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Reliability aside, the Defender made one hell of a comeback with the 2021 model. It is everything the Land Rover brand has been known for over the years, all wrapped up into one truck. Powered by its 395-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine, the Defender, has a strong power advantage compared to the Wrangler. However, both the Jeep Wrangler and the Land Rover Defender are masterful when it comes to the dirt track. There is almost no need to compare in this respect. They will both get you through the wild stuff with confidence.

Lastly, the Defender outpaces the Wrangler by a mile on the interior. Consumer Reports notes that the interior is beautiful and quiet. This is something that the Jeep Wrangler simply can’t even come close to. The quality of materials and attention to detail gives rugged off-road prowess the feeling of being upscale and luxurious. 

The Jeep Wrangler is still just a Jeep

Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Wrangler the shockingly terrible score of 29/100. That is a super F. There doesn’t really seem to anything “wrong” with the Wrangler; it is just a Wrangler. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler with half doors
2021 Jeep Wrangler with half doors | Jeep

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There are various reliability issues with the last generation, and since the latest generation hasn’t been out all that long, the stain of the old JK motors is still on the JL Jeeps. So far, the latest generation hasn’t seen many major mechanical issues to speak of. 

So much of what Consumer Reports seems to hate about the Wrangler is merely what makes it a Wrangler. The list of cons is; a stiff ride, lots of wind noise, too tall to get in and out of comfortably, and poor fuel economy. Most of those things are what allows the Jeep Wrangler to be such an effective off-roader. That being said, Consumer Reports’ objectivity is a major part of what makes their assessments have value. 

Which do you choose? 

Like so many things, you really have to look at your needs and pick the one that best fits them. Oddly enough, the Land Rover Defender and the Jeep Wrangler are getting pretty close to the same price range these days, especially with the upcoming V8 Wrangler. The Defender’s price range is $46,100 – $83,000 and the 2021 Wrangerls run from $28,575 – $73,500. Technically the Wrangler can be a bit cheaper than the Defender, but if you want anything cool on it, it will quickly approach the base Defender price.