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The Land Rover Defender has a tenure of gritty off-road capability spanning decades and continents. Today, the Defender is five years into its pseudo-retro revival, complete with boxy throwback styling, (somewhat) rounded lamps, and, most importantly, a trail-ready ride. Further, the nameplate has never been more accommodating with the eight-passenger Defender 130. So, does the 2024 Land Rover Defender 130 deliver? We got behind the wheel to find out. 

We drove the Land Rover Defender 130 off-road in Texas, and it never ceased to surprise us

TReK 2023 involved using winches to move objects and gain mechanical advantage over rough terrain.
A Defender uses its winch to pull a large log | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

As we approach 2024, the Land Rover Defender 130 is the largest model in the brand’s current lineup. It’s big– it’s “building on wheels” big. At nearly 212 inches before the addition of our rig’s high-lift jack and shovel, the bloated Brit doesn’t seem like it would be at home aboard Hidden Falls Adventure Park in Central Texas. It was. 

The Defender 130’s adjustable air suspension adapted to the Texas terrain. From leveling out a trailer in the TReK 2023 challenge to maximizing ride height and ground clearance for negotiating off-road obstacles, the adjustable ride did the work. Moreover, while the longest Defender of the bunch doesn’t ride on a ladder frame like in past iterations, the latest model’s monocoque stood up to articulation challenges from the terrain. 

Better yet, our big, spacious British off-roader came equipped with an integrated WARN winch. Fortunately, we never got the brute so stuck that the winch was necessary. However, the TReK challenge involved using the winch to complete technical challenges. I’ll admit the lack of a manual clutch was off-putting initially, but the WARN’s wireless controller was easy to read and use. 

What are the cons of the Defender 130?

A matte black Land Rover Defender 130 shows off its shovel, spare tire, and high-lift jack.
The TReK Defender 130 | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

While the Land Rover Defender 130 was up to the task of conquering the Texas trails, it isn’t without its issues.

  • Touchy brakes
  • Power delivery is jerky at low speeds
  • The rear gear array interferes with the reversing camera
  • Challenging off-road terrain can activate 2WD mode
  • Hill Descent Control wants to do your thinking for you

After driving it in a series of TReK challenges, the lengthy Defender showed some pain points. The adventure park has a surplus of cuts, draws, and steep terrain features, granted. But it also had a painfully slow speed limit, a limit that tested the Defender’s limits. 

Sure, the Hill Descent Control was helpful when falling with the Texas terrain and testing the Defender’s approach angle. However, the P400 3.0L inline-six-cylinder wasn’t happy delivering smooth throttle at 10 mph; it wanted to move. Unlucky for us, the TReK challenge involved strict adherence to the speed limit at the cost of points. Oh, well. Still, torque delivery is smoother at higher revs.

How much longer is a Defender 130 vs 110?

The 2024 Land Rover Defender lineup offers everything from a two-door 90 to a four-door, eight-passenger 130. Moreover, while the Defender 110 also wears a four-door platform, it’s not as long as the hulking 130. 

TrimLengthCurb weight
Defender 90 S180.5 inches3,870 lbs
Defender 110 S197.5 inches5,035 lbs
Defender 130 S211.7 inches5,620 lbs

Fortunately, the 130’s extra girth means considerably more interior space. With the third-row seats folded, the Defender 130 boasts a cavernous 43.5 cubic feet of volume. It was more than enough to tear down a four-person campsite and disembark in minutes.

Is it worth it to buy a Defender?

An infotainment system shows off a bird's-eye view of a Land Rover Defender.
The Defender’s camera system showed multiple angles of the vehicle | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit
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In addition to boasting a usable approach angle, the Land Rover Defender 130 brings interior space and luxe interior quality to the off-roader equation. Everything from the Pivi Pro system’s multiple camera displays to easy-to-configure rear-seat climate control makes the Defender easy to live with. 

Of course, the entry-level 130 S starts at $70,575; the eight-passenger rig is no affordable affair. 

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