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2023 Land Rover 90 Defender Review: 

  • 2023 Land Rover Defender 90: $53,500 – $115,000
  • Best Midsize Utility Vehicle – MotorWeek 
  • Pros: Robust off-roading capabilities, smooth and comfortable on the pavement, practical utility 
  • Cons: Tight cargo space, the tech has a learning curve, weak fuel economy 
  • MotorBiscuit Score: 7.9 out of 10 
The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 by flowering trees
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Tip your hat and offer a spot of tea to the refined 2023 Land Rover Defender 90. Yes, the two-door Land Rover Defender model. It’s not just an elegant face for the city. It’s full of surprising capabilities and luxurious perks. 

For example, it keeps up with the Ford Bronco Raptor and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a more comfortable ride. With street tires, it can climb over steep muddy inclines and Ford water up to 35.4 inches deep. 

After a day of dominating the wild, the Defender 90 provides unmatched comfort with a luxurious cab and a quiet, peaceful ride. But the tech could be more intuitive, cargo space is limited, and you may find yourself filling up often. 

Overall, the Land Rover Defender 90 seems misunderstood. It made a triumphant return to the United States in 2020 and deserves your attention. 

2023 Land Rover Defender 90: What’s new? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 off-roading
2023 Land Rover Defender 130 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 trimmed a few options to simplify the ordering process. Also, the Land Rover Defender 130 debuted, which is the stretched three-row model that’s just as capable as the 110 and 90. 

Special editions include the 30th Anniversary Edition, Trophy Edition, and 75th Limited Edition emerged with luxurious upgrades such as white steel wheels and a fabric sunroof. Only 500 30th Anniversary models were made. 

Plus, a new synthetic leather upholstery was introduced. But the 2023 Defender 90 is primarily a carryover model. It’s part of the second generation that launched in 2020. 

Which 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 trim is best? 

There are nine different trim levels available: 

  • Land Rover Defender 90 Standard – $53,500 
  • Defender 90 S – $55,100
  • Defender 90 SE – $65,350 
  • Defender 90 X-Dynamic SE – $69,100 
  • Defender 90 First Edition – $84,700 
  • Defender 90 X – $88,400
  • Defender 90 75th Edition – $90,500 
  • Defender 90 V8 – $107,900 
  • Defender 90 Carpathian Edition – $115,000
The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 parked near trees
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

If you’re going for stout off-roading capabilities, then the Defender 90 X is an excellent option to consider. It adds the adjustable air suspension, the upgraded terrain response system, and an electronic differential with torque vectoring. 

But you can also save with the Defender SE trim, which includes more comfort and convenience without a steep price hike. It has ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, fog lights, 14-way power-adjustable seats with memory function, and a 15-speaker Meridian audio system. 

How does the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 drive? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 on the road
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Land Rover

The 2023 Land Rover Defender starts with a standard P300 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The P300 for the Defender 130 is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 mild hybrid setup with 296 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. 

Upgrade to the P400 SE for an upgraded mild hybrid engine with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. But the cream of the crop is the irresistible supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that cranks out 518 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. 

According to Car and Driver, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds. The Ford Bronco Raptor reaches 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and doesn’t offer a two-door variant. The eight-speed automatic transmission provides smooth gear shifts, but the brakes are a bit soft. 

The Defender 90 has direct steering with excellent handling for cornering and clearing obstacles. It has a 19-foot turning radius, meaning it’s agile and easy to maneuver in tight city areas. 

Can the Land Rover Defender 90 go off-roading? 

Yes, the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 is at home in the wild. The 8.6-inch ground clearance can be adjusted to 11.6 inches with the adaptive air suspension. The 22-inch alloy wheels pair nicely with protective satin film. 

It features a configurable multi-terrain response system, fully independent suspension, twin-speed transfer box, and permanent four-wheel drive. It also has a locking differential, beefy skid plates, and tow hooks. 

The driving modes include Dynamic, Eco, Comfort, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. The active dynamics system monitors 500 movements per second to optimize each setting for changing terrain, and the dynamic response controls the front and rear axles to enhance control. 

The Defender 90 provides off-roading settings for various experience levels. The hill descent control and other features are perfect for beginners, but the Defender can also be pushed to the extreme. 

We’ve spent a lot of time on muddy includes, in thick mud and deep ruts, growing through streams, climbing over rocks, and more. The Defender 90 maintains control and confidence and is very resistant to slipping. 

Some journalists were visibly worried about the harsh terrain and challenges that Land Rover invited us to try, but it conquered each challenge without even breaking a sweat. This is secretly a durable beast. 

Is the Land Rover Defender 90 comfortable? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 on a wooded trail
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Yes, the 2023 Land Rover Defender is very comfortable, especially compared to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco. Most off-roaders sacrifice comfort for capability, but the Defender 90 makes no compromises. 

It has a buttery smooth ride over the pavement, but the tires still feel connected to the terrain. The interior is peacefully quiet, but there is a bit of wind noise at highway speeds. There are tons of available adjustment controls to find the perfect driving or riding position. 

The backseat of the Defender 90 is a little tight but offers plenty of space in the 110 and 130. The heated seats and steering wheel work very quickly on frigid mornings, but the ventilated seats could be stronger. 

Be sure to take the time to learn the climate control controls. For example, pushing the dial in and turning it to the right or left adjusts the heated/ventilated seat levels. Some functions are only available to access with the infotianment screen, which can be distracting while driving. 

Is the Land Rover Defender 90 interior nice? 

Yes, the Land Rover Defender 90 interior is luxurious, upscale, and attractive. It provides a nice blend of high-quality soft-touch materials and durable trim pieces that stand up to mud. Thank goodness rubberized all-weather mats are standard. 

Leather-covered surfaces in different shades of black, tan, and white pop against black textured trim pieces and silver accents. You can opt for resolve textile, grain leather, or robust woven textile with Decitex fibers. 

The available suede steering wheel is an interesting choice, but it holds up against the elements and is stain resistant. The unique roof windows and panoramic sunroof allow tons of natural light to fill the cabin. 

Visibility is excellent out the front, thanks to large windows, but the spare tire blocks the rear window. The 360-degree camera display and parking sensors make up for the difference. Also, the step-in height is a bit high. 

How is the tech in the Land Rover Defender 90? 

2023 Land Rover Defender 90 tech
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Land Rover

The tech in the 2023 Defender 90 is both helpful and a little confusing. The front seats can only slide forward or back with a touch of a button, and they move quite slowly. It could use manual adjustments. 

The 11.4-inch touchscreen has crisp graphics and works quickly, but the menus are a bit cluttered. Changing driving modes and adjusting comfort settings take a few more taps than expected. 

We’re impressed by the head-up display, 360-degree camera, and off-roading views. You can see the sides of the tires and what’s in front of you on the ground. Plus, the off-roading stats for your pitch/roll. And how much power is going to each wheel is helpful. 

Sometimes the system is fussy and says you can’t do things in certain driving modes. We recommend watching YouTube videos or asking for an overview at the dealership to learn about everything it can do. 

Connecting to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is easy, and the 15-speaker premium Merdian audio system sounds great. Also, the available refrigerated center console bin is a unique touch. 

How does the Land Rover Defender 90 do with storage and towing? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 has limited space behind the rear seats. The seats fold flat if you remove the rear cushion, which is a hassle. With the rear cushions, they lean forward to provide a little extra room. 

There are tons of storage trays and cubbies around the dash for smaller items, and the glove box is a bit tight. There is an open tunnel under the front cup holders, and the sides of the doors have useful bins. 

When properly equipped, the Defender 90 can tow up to 8,201 lbs and carry a payload of up to 1,940 lbs. The Jeep Wrangler can tow up to 5,000 lbs, and the Ford Bronco can tow up to 4,500 lbs. 

How safe is the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 hasn’t been officially rated by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But it did earn a five-star rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).

Standard safety features include: 

  • Forward collision mitigation 
  • Lane-keeping assist 
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert 
  • 360-degree camera system 
  • Passenger safe-exit system 
  • Trailer sway damping 
  • Water depth sensor 
  • Traffic sign reader 

How reliable is the Land Rover Defender 90? 

The rear of the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 is a pretty reliable SUV. J.D. Power gave it a score of 80 out of 100, so it just missed the above-average mark. Scores between 70 to 80 are average, while ratings between 81 to 90 are above-average. Anything between 91 to 100 is best. 

You can expect the average Defender 90 model to make it to 200,000 miles. But with proper care and maintenance, it can last much longer. It has a durable construction to stand up to harsh conditions. 

The average annual maintenance cost for the Defender 90 is $675. The average new vehicle costs about $650 to maintain yearly, so the Defender 90 is only slightly more expensive. 

MotorBiscuit awards the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 with a score of 7.9 out of 10 

The experts at MotorBiscuit have awarded the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 with a score of 7.9 out of 10. This SUV may get expensive in a hurry, but it includes an incredibly long list of standard features. 

Plus, it keeps up with some of the most rugged off-roaders with ease and provides superior ride quality on the way home. The interior is practical, lavish, and durable. It’s easy to clean, but space is limited. 

The Defender 90 has a stout towing capacity with features such as backup assist to make the job easier. However, the tech has a bit of a learning curve and can be distracting. Also, the reliability score is slightly lower than its American rival’s. 

We can’t wait to spend more time with the Defender 110 and Defender 130 to see how they compare. Also, we’re interested in the hybrid engines, but the stout V8 power is hard to pass up.