- The 2022 Land Rover Defender is go-anywhere attitude distilled into a luxury SUV
- Land Rover’s Defender doesn’t bring the fun factor that the cheaper competition does
- No matter how stuck the Defender seems, it always finds a way to get you where you’re going
This week, I spent some time with the other side of the off-road SUV coin. On one side lies the fully loaded Ford Bronco I had a few weeks back, and on the other, the 2022 Land Rover Defender. Where the Bronco uses its off-road chops to make you laugh, the Defender’s ease of use makes you wonder at the engineering that went into it. But the Defender has a problem if it wants to pull buyers from its cheaper competition.
The 2022 Land Rover Defender isn’t as fun as the competition
This problem is something that’s immediately apparent from the moment you walk up to the 2022 Land Rover Defender. The whole thing is, well, very British in its stature. Leather and sleek, minimalist styling remind you of a trendy Londoner’s flat. The front looks like a bulldog for Christ’s sake. Not that the looks are part of the problem. I actually prefer them to the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler. No, the Defender’s problem is it’s not fun enough to compete with those two off-road SUVs.
That becomes even more obvious when you sit down. The materials are rugged-feeling, and everything you touch feels like it has a purpose. But it’s just so… so sterile. The brightest color on the interior is the white paint of the door sills. And even that looks two shades duller somehow. The Ford Bronco is covered in tough-feeling blue and yellow switches, knobs, and dials, all of which feel like they’re there to help you climb yonder boulder as recklessly as possible. It’s “bro watch this” in car form. Same with the Wrangler. The Defender is instead a luxury SUV that can also go off-road. The other two are cars that feel built to do just that and keep you smiling the whole time.
Is buying a luxury off-road SUV worth it?
So, in short, the biggest problem faced by the 2022 Land Rover Defender is that it doesn’t feel like what it is because it hides it so well. On the surface, everything feels like it was built to crawl the nearest Whole Foods lot. The heated and ventilated seats warm or cool you to the nth degree, and what little road noise exists is very palatable. What this trendy London flat of an interior doesn’t tell you is that it’s built to beat a trail into submission. You only realize that when you get on said trail. No matter how stuck you think the Defender is, there’s always a way out.
So therein lies the appeal of the Defender. It is exactly what you need, when you need it, distilled into the bones of a luxury SUV. Now, I understand this appeal. Some buyers from Ford and Jeep may be tired of cheap interiors, and almost laughable levels of wind and tire noise. Those are the people that will buy a Defender. But right now, at the height of Bronco mania, that isn’t very many people.
Is the Land Rover Defender better than the Ford Bronco?
To me at least, the 2022 Ford Bronco is better than the 2022 Land Rover Defender. I am stupid and young. In that order. Wind and tire noise are but measures of the speed I will carry over yonder boulder. I crawl the parking lots of the Circle K, not the Whole Foods. But when I wise up and want something that won’t annoy my passengers to look at and break my back to sit in? You’ll find me in line at the Land Rover dealer.