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2021 Land Rover Defender

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$46,100 - 83,000 MSRP

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2021 Land Rover Defender Review

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is a tremendous off-roader, but it lacks the interior refinement of many competitors.

Pros & Cons

  • Dynamite off-road ability
  • Sure-footed handling and smooth ride
  • Comfortable, supportive seats
  • Not as posh inside as rivals
  • Worse fuel economy than competitors
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating
  • Two-door models offer subpar cargo capacity

New for 2021

  • More trims available in Defender 90 two-door model
  • New Defender X-Dynamic model joins lineup
  • Feature shuffling between trims

Research & Ratings

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is unranked in Luxury Midsize SUVs due to missing safety data. Currently, the Land Rover Defender's overall score is not available, though its Critics' Rating, Performance score, and Interior score are based on our evaluation of 14 pieces of research and data.

N/A

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 6.8
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other luxury midsize suvs.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Land Rover Defender a Good SUV?

Yes, the Land Rover Defender is a good SUV. Available in two- and four-door body styles, it has potent engines, agile handling, and nearly unmatched off-road ability. The ride is comfortable, as are the seats, which remain supportive on long drives. Plenty of features come standard, including a user-friendly infotainment system.

The Defender has its weak spots, however. It gets below-average gas mileage for the class, and the interior doesn't feel quite as posh as it should for a luxury midsize SUV. The Defender also earns a subpar predicted reliability rating.

Why You Can Trust Us: 14 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Defender review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Land Rover Defender?

You should consider this Land Rover if you want a luxury SUV with unparalleled off-road ability and a nice, but not overly opulent, interior. It's reasonably priced for the class, so it's a decent value overall, but you won't get as much bang for your buck if you don't plan to take advantage of the Defender's adventurous nature.

Find a 2021 Land Rover Defender for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Land Rover Defender: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Land Rover Defender isn't much different from last year's debut model, but there are some notable changes. The Defender X-Dynamic model joins the lineup, and the two-door, short-wheelbase Defender 90 has expanded availability. There's also some feature shuffling between trims.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Defender »

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2020 Defender review to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Land Rover Defender Cost?

The Defender's base price sits at $46,100 for the two-door model and $50,500 for the four-door model. That's a little less than the starting price of many other luxury midsize SUVs. The range-topping Defender X starts at $80,500 for the two-door model and $83,000 for the four-door model. Only a handful of class rivals have higher top-trim prices.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Land Rover dealer.

Land Rover Defender Versus the Competition

Land Rover Defender vs. Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler, a compact SUV, is one of the best off-road-oriented SUVs that you can buy, but it may have met its match in the Defender. Both vehicles are available in two- and four-door setups with a bevy of standard and optional features for conquering all kinds of terrain, though the Defender has greater ground clearance and wading ability. The Land Rover's plush suspension and more upscale interior also make it better suited for everyday driving. The Wrangler is much less expensive, with a starting price roughly $20,000 below the Defender's, but it comes with far fewer standard features and a lower-rent interior.

Compare the Defender and Wrangler »

Land Rover Defender vs. Land Rover Discovery

The Land Rover Discovery is a fellow luxury midsize SUV, and it blurs the line between luxury and capability better than the Defender does. The Discovery is more luxurious inside and has more cargo space, but the Defender has a more intuitive infotainment system. Both Land Rovers are good for off-roading, but the Defender has a slight edge there. Price-wise, these two are about the same.

Compare the Defender and Discovery »

Compare the Defender, Wrangler, and Discovery »

Defender Interior: Nice but Not Quite On Par with Rivals

Defender Cargo Space          

This Land Rover's cargo space varies by body style and configuration. The four-door Defender 110 provides 34 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 78.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, which are average totals for the luxury midsize SUV class. If you add the available third-row seats, you'll get 10.7 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 34.6 cubic feet behind the second row, and 69 cubic feet with all rear seats folded.

The two-door Defender 90 has 15.6 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats and a maximum cargo capacity of 58.3 cubic feet.

How Many People Does the Defender Seat?

The Defender seats five people in its standard configuration, regardless of body style. All models let you add a front-row center jump seat to up capacity to six. In four-door models, you can opt for a two-person third row, which lets you seat up to seven people. Notably, you cannot get a Defender with both the front jump seat and the third row.

The front seats are comfortable and offer great outward visibility. The second-row seats are similarly comfortable, and they're roomy enough for taller passengers. The optional third-row seats aren't as spacious as the other two rows, so you’ll probably want to leave those for kids.

Defender and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Defender’s rear outboard seats.

Defender Interior Quality

The Defender was designed with one eye on function, so the styling is a bit plain, and the materials quality isn't quite on par with what you'll find in most of the class. That said, this is still an attractive, upscale cabin.

Defender Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Pivi Pro infotainment interface is user-friendly and doesn't require much of a learning curve. The touch screen is within easy view of the driver, and other dashboard controls are laid out intuitively. The system responds quickly to inputs and is simple to operate.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 10-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, navigation, wireless device charging, satellite radio, and six speakers
  • Available infotainment features: a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a 10- or 14-speaker Meridian audio system
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a panoramic roof, a folding fabric roof (allowing rear-seat passengers to stand up inside the vehicle when it's stationary), tri-zone automatic climate control, an air quality sensor and cabin air purification system, a front center console refrigerator, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Defender Performance: One Rover to Rule Them All

Defender Engine

The Defender comes standard with a 296-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and it offers a 395-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder. Each is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine gets the job done, but it can't match the optional six-cylinder. The turbo-six suffers from a bit of turbo lag at initial throttle but feels energetic once it's moving. The six is also a mild hybrid, meaning it gets a small electric boost during low-speed acceleration. The automatic transmission is smooth and refined.

Defender Gas Mileage

Fuel economy isn't one of the Defender's strong suits. The two-door Defender gets 18 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway with the base engine, and ratings drop by about 1 mpg in four-door models. Either way, those are subpar gas mileage figures for the luxury midsize SUV class. With the six-cylinder engine, the Defender gets 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, regardless of wheelbase.

Defender Ride and Handling

This Land Rover is a beastly off-roader, but it also has a fairly playful nature on the road. It has accurate steering and plenty of road grip, helping it feel agile and planted when going around turns. It also rides comfortably, as the suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease.

Defender Off-Road Performance

The Defender has phenomenal off-road abilities, and few competitors – in any class – can keep up. It comes standard with equipment like a two-speed transfer case, a terrain response system, hill descent control, wade sensing, and an off-road front-view camera. You can then add features like an upgraded terrain response system, an electronic active differential, all-terrain cruise control, and a raised air intake snorkel.

This Land Rover tackles mud and muck, snow, and rocky outcrops with equal aplomb, and it boasts more ground clearance and better wading capability than a Jeep Wrangler. In short, you will likely shy away from challenging terrain before the Defender meets its match.

Defender Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Defender can tow up to 8,201 pounds, which is excellent for the luxury midsize SUV class.

Read more about performance »

Defender Reliability

Is the Land Rover Defender Reliable?

The 2021 Land Rover Defender has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Land Rover Defender Warranty

Land Rover covers the Defender with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Defender Safety

Defender Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 Defender. This is common for high-end luxury vehicles.

Defender Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Vehicle exit warning
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Traffic sign recognition

Available advanced safety features:

  • Head-up display
  • Rearview mirror camera
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control

Read more about safety »

Defender Dimensions and Weight

The Land Rover Defender is between 14.2 and 16.5 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,550 to 5,385 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Land Rover Defender Built?

Land Rover builds the 2021 Defender in Slovakia.

Which Land Rover Defender Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Land Rover Defender comes in eight trims: base, S, X-Dynamic S, SE, First Edition, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, and X. The Defender also comes in two- and four-door configurations, denoted by the numbers 90 and 110, respectively. Note that not every trim comes in both body styles. In four-door models, you can add a front-row middle jump seat or a pair of third-row seats, but not both. Two-door models offer the front-row middle seat only.

The base Defender and Defender S are both good choices. Each is available in two- and four-door configurations, and they provide all the capability most buyers will need. If you want to look beyond them, the all-new X-Dynamic trims add a few more features and improved off-road ability. They can't match the Defender X when it comes to ruggedness, but they do carry a much lower price tag.

Land Rover Defender

The Defender 90 carries a base price of $46,100, while the starting MSRP of the Defender 110 sits at $50,500. The base Defender comes with a 296-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive.

Standard features include cloth upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an infotainment system with a 10-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, navigation, wireless device charging, satellite radio, and six speakers.

Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a surround-view parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors, driver drowsiness monitoring, and traffic sign recognition.

Land Rover Defender S

The Defender 90 S starts at $49,400, and the Defender 110 S starts at $53,800. In addition to the base trim's features, the Defender S comes with partial leather upholstery, added front-seat adjustability, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Land Rover Defender 90 X-Dynamic S

The Defender 90 X-Dynamic S sports a starting price of $57,800. This trim is only available in the two-door body style, and it comes with a 395-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Standard features include full leather upholstery.

Land Rover Defender 110 SE

The Defender 110 SE starts at $62,700. Available only in the four-door body style, the Defender SE comes with the 395-horsepower turbo-six engine, cloth and leather upholstery, front seats with added power adjustability, a rearview mirror camera, and a 10-speaker Meridian audio system.

Land Rover Defender 90 First Edition

The Defender 90 First Edition only comes in the two-door body style and has a starting MSRP of $64,100. The Defender First Edition comes with a folding fabric roof, a front-row middle seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an adaptive air suspension.

Land Rover Defender 110 X-Dynamic SE

The Defender 110 X-Dynamic SE costs $65,500. The Defender X-Dynamic SE is a four-door-only model, and standard features include 20-inch wheels and full leather upholstery.

Land Rover Defender 110 X-Dynamic HSE

The Defender 110 X-Dynamic HSE starts at $71,600. Another four-door-only model, the Defender X-Dynamic HSE builds off the X-Dynamic SE by adding a panoramic roof, Windsor leather upholstery, and adaptive cruise control.

Land Rover Defender X

The Defender 90 X starts at $80,500, and the Defender 110 X starts at $83,000. The Defender X comes with an upgraded terrain response system, an auto-locking differential, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a head-up display, and a 14-speaker Meridian audio system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Land Rover dealer.

See 2021 Land Rover Defender specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is athletic and enjoyable to drive, on or off the pavement. It can take you anywhere you dare to go, and it does so while keeping you comfortable. It isn't as posh as some rivals, and it has a subpar predicted reliability rating, which is why it isn't a top choice in the luxury midsize SUV class. But this is still a quality vehicle that's worth a look for the right shopper.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The new Defender is a proper SUV, designed and engineered with heart and soul, with just as much ability off-road as its predecessor, but with modern safety, convenience and comfort." -- Autoblog (2020)
  • "Therein lies its strength, offering a comfortable, competent vehicle for everyday driving that also get you through a river crossing or a rock-strewn pass. It's a narrow niche, this focus on extreme readiness with the underlying ability to handle daily life with civility. While the diehards may gripe that the new Land Rover Defender isn't scruffy enough to honor its grizzled, dirt-splatted past, the vast majority will likely find it a welcome antidote to the usual sport-utility fare." -- Automobile Magazine (2020)
  • "The new version has substantial off-road chops yet will likely delight someone who never leaves the pavement. That's most drivers. They'll buy it because it's cooler-looking than the similarly priced Land Rover Discovery as well as whatever it's parked next to at soccer practice, and because it encourages the fantasy of a faraway trek. That strikes us as a successful balancing act for the Defender's revival." -- Car and Driver (2020)
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