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Since the Land Rover Defender 90 returned, we’ve prepared by doing things like switching from coffee to tea. We prepared for clay shooting in dismal weather and bet on corgi races. But all of our training didn’t prepare us for a few rather absurd 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 features. 

What is the 2023 Land Rover Defender 90? 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender features have a learning curve
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 is the smallest variant in the lineup. The Defender 110 has two rows and four doors. The Defender 130 stretches things further to provide three rows for families. 

As a two-door luxury vehicle for adventuring, the Land Rover Defender is capable of tackling the wild and dominating trails typically reserved for top Jeep Wrangler builds. Only it provides a level of refinement and comfort that can’t be matched. 

The available air suspension can raise the ground clearance to 11.5 inches, and the Defender ford water up to 35.4 inches. Plus, the avoidable 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine cranks out 518 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. The Ford Bronco Raptor maxes out at 418 hp. 

So, this quaint two-door beast has more muscle than our American monster of an SUV. There’s a lot to unpack. 

1. The 2023 Land Rover Defender has a lot of soft cloth 

Land Rover Defender 90 interior
Land Rover Defender 90 interior | Land Rover

We have the Land Rover Defender 90 V8, so it’s loaded with extra bells and whistles, including a faux suede steering wheel. This is the first time that we’ve used a soft steering wheel like this, and it’s mind-boggling. 

It’s a nice shade of gray and soft to the touch. Also, our tester has over 10,000 miles on it, and it’s held up well so far. But it seems easy to stain. We don’t want to spill a drop of tea on it. How long would it take to dry? What if your hands get sweaty? Will a foul odor linger? 

The front seats have faux-sued inserts too, which can be nice. However, we were hoping for a durable leather fabric that would be easier to clean. Faux suede is a little fussy once it’s covered in mud. 

Thankfully, the cloth floor mats can be removed. But larger rubberized all-weather mats would be much easier to clean. 

2. The control layout is bewildering 

The best way to learn how to use your 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 is by asking an expert to explain the buttons and controls. The buttons are labeled with pictures instead of text, and there aren’t many physical controls. 

To adjust the fan speed, you click a button in the middle of the center stack that points to the passenger’s rotary dial, then spin it. You also push the same button to adjust your heated and ventilated seats. 

To change driving modes, you have to select a few touchscreen menus or start with a button that has mountains on it. Switching from your phone media to the radio can be confusing, and we didn’t know we had a head-up display until we accidentally hit the settings to make it appear. 

3. The reverse camera software is interesting 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 has excellent trail cameras. You get a view of what’s in front of your bumper, the sides of the wheels, and a 360-degree display. The resolution is vibrant and clear. 

However, while in motion, a thin line serves as an indicator of where you can’t go, and the scenery behind the line is blocked by a shade of dark grey. The line jumps and moves a lot and can feel distorting. 

Also, on that note, the parking sensors are a little sensitive and beep when the system adjusts to the changing environment. 

4. There could be more mechanical features 

While the 2023 Land Rover Defender tech is out of this world, some aspects are a little odd. For example, the front seats don’t manually slide forward and back. You have to use the controls near the headrest. 

You can let go of the button to have the seats slowly pull forward but have to hold it to move them back. Also, it takes a few seconds to slide forward, making it a bit of a chore to store people, pets, and cargo in the back. 

5. The 20-inch tires aren’t beefy 

The 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 on 20-inch wheels
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Land Rover Defender has 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires. It doesn’t have massive, chunky tires like traditional American off-roaders. You can get lost in the tread of the Ford Bronco Raptor tires! 

People love to point out how the tires don’t seem fit for off-roading. However, they can be quickly proved wrong. We’ve taken the Defender and Bronco Raptor on the same trails, and the Defender 90 doesn’t need massive gnarly tires. 

It wades through water, trudges through mud/ruts, and easily climbs over rocks. It could be more capable than you think. 

Also, don’t take this as a list of negatives. These features simply stand out due to being unique and a bit confusing. We have plenty of excellent things to say about the Defender. 

For example, the ride is smooth, the cabin is peaceful, there’s more personal cargo space than the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco, it has insane off-roading capabilities, the tech is advanced, and the air suspension is versatile. 

We’re still learning about the Land Rover Defender 90 and will provide a full review soon. We’ve been off-roading, around town, and on road trips with the Defender and have a lot to unpack.