Let’s face it, building an off-roading SUV that’s equally capable on the street as on the side of a mountain is a tall order. The 2020 Land Rover Defender attempts to do just that by blending a luxury SUV with over 60 years of off-roading heritage. Despite Land Rover’s greatest efforts, the Defender is not perfect, and a recent road test by Consumer Reports revealed one major flaw in the SUVs design.
What’s so great about the Land Rover Defender?
There is a wide spectrum of available options in the world of off-roading SUVs, from the Jeep Wrangler and its $28,295 starting price to the six-figure Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The Land Rover Defender falls somewhere in between with its $46,100 starting price.
The Land Rover Defender comes in two body styles, the two-door 90 and the four-door 110. Under the hood of both lives, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque as standard. There is, however, a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that is available. The larger engine combines a hybrid system alongside an electric supercharger.
The only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic. All Defenders come standard with a constant all-wheel-drive system. According to Land Rover, the Defender features a fully independent suspension setup. While an adaptive air suspension is available, traditional coil springs come as standard.
While the Defender’s design takes inspiration from its past generations, it prioritizes function over form. Short front and rear bumpers allow for greater approach and departure angles. Combine the off-roading focused suspension with the available 11.45 inches of ground clearance, and the Defender can pretty much go anywhere.
Off-road chops lead to on-road drawbacks
Consumer Reports recently got their hands on a Land Rover Defender and conducted a first drive test. While the test was positive for the most part, several members from the CR team noted visibility issues.
While CR noted that visibility wasn’t a major issue when looking forward, changing lanes on the highway proved slightly difficult. The visibility issues come as a result of the thick structural pillars used to ensure chassis rigidity. During their first drive, CR noted that the Defender’s thick headrests and the rear-mounted spare tire also significantly affected overall visibility.
Aside from visibility issues on the road, CR noted that the Defender is particularly difficult to park. Aside from the aforementioned visibility limitations, the Defenders narrow and tall form factor makes it hard to maneuver. CR noted that their testers had to rely almost entirely on parking sensors and cameras to maneuver the small SUV properly.
While this issue is quite significant, it is important to note that the Defender is primarily designed to be an off-roader. Thankfully, it seems the rest of the Defender is pretty spectacular.
The rest of the Defender is fantastic
Just this week, MotorTrend awarded the Land Rover Defender their SUV of the Year award. Even CR noted that the Defender’s interior quality, comfort, and refinement were above average.
The Defender’s 400-hp 3.0-liter engine is a highlight, providing strong power both on and off-road. Most importantly for the Defender, the off-roading systems such as multi-view cameras were easy to use and provided visibility while off-roading. While the Defender is tasked with handling a dual personality, it seems the small SUV does excellently despite its flaws.