Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Land Rover Defender Is Surprisingly Reasonable

Last year marked the return of the classic Land Rover Defender, and many of us were pleased with its capabilities on and off-road. In addition to its go-anywhere capabilities, the new Defender boasts the same utilitarian styling cues that enthusiasts fell for over 20 years ago. For 2021, we will see a few more updates for this boxy SUV. And the new Defender is surprisingly reasonable﹣ for a Land Rover anyway. 

What’s new for the 2021 Land Rover Defender? 

A sleek, grey X-Dynamic model as a two-door variant.
2021 Land Rover Defender X-Dynamic model | Land Rover

The biggest news for the 2021 Defender 90 trim is that it is now available as a two-door body style and four different variants. This option is available alongside the Defender 110, which has four doors. Offering both the two and four-door body styles makes more Land Rover more competitive against the Jeep Wrangler and the revived Ford Bronco

What’s also new for 2021 is that Land Rover is adding a brand-new X-Dynamic trim into the mix. This new trim sits between the standard Defender and the maxed out Defender X. The X-Dynamic offers a little more flair and features a glossy black door, wheel-arch cladding, and satin-finish skid pans, as Car and Driver highlighted. The X-Dynamic starts at $59,150, and a standard Defender costs $47,450. The top-tier Defender X begins at $81,850.

Performance options 

A 2021 Land Rover Defender wading through water.
2021 Land Rover Defender | Land Rover

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Even though it’s an off-road-oriented model, the Defender performs well on paved roads too. The base Defender is equipped with a 296-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Critics like the base engine for its peppiness that’s suitable for everyday drives. For those who want more power to tackle the roads less traveled, there’s an available turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 395-hp.

The Defender’s upgraded engine uses a mild hybrid system, which makes it more intriguing. Across the pond, this SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid. We don’t know when Land Rover plans to introduce it to the U.S. So if a hybridized off-roader is what you want, at least you have the 2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe to look forward to.

Some reviewers feel that the Defender experiences turbo lag, as U.S. News highlights. Even so, its overall ride quality makes up for that. And when it comes to off-roading, the Defender can handle itself on rugged terrain and trek up through 35.4 inches of water. It comes standard with features including hill descent control, a terrain response system, and an off-road front-view camera. You can also upgrade to Land Rover’s configurable terrain response system and all-terrain cruise control. 

On the inside 

The new defender is unique blend of modern and vintage design elements.
2021 Land Rover interior | Land Rover

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The Defender also pleases with its cozy interior. The new two-door model can seat up to six people; the Defender 110 seats seven. Cloth upholstery is standard on the base model, but you have plenty of options to upgrade, including genuine leather. The Defender also returns with a long list of in-car gadgets. These include a 10-inch infotainment display, smartphone integration apps, navigation, and a wifi hotspot.