Almost two years in and we still have a hard time believing the Defender has been reborn. This icon, unavailable on American shores for over twenty years, returned at the end of 2020 as a trail-ready, technological marvel that paid stylistic homage to that past without a trace of kitsch. Filling the shoes of a giant isn't easy, but the new Defender is doing quite well so far.
For 2022, V-8 power is now on the menu in the form of a 518-horse, supercharged 5.0-liter engine that's also used extensively throughout the Range Rover line. The new engine comes standard in the also-new Carpathian edition, which sits at the top of the lengthy list of trim levels. It gets nearly every feature Land Rover offers on the Defender, and prices begin north of $100,000 for both two-door and four-door models.
The four-door Defender 110 gains its own exclusive trim this year, denoted XS. Meant as the replacement for the inaugural First Edition, it gets unique exterior touches comes in four colors.
Choosing Your Land Rover Defender
The level of customization Land Rover offers Defender buyers shames even Porsche. First off, you'll need to choose between the two-door 90 model and the four-door 110. From there, Land Rover offers about a dozen trims - and that isn't an exaggeration - that can stretch the price from about $47,000 to well over $100,000.
With the new V-8 now part of the roster, the Defender offers three different engines of four to eight cylinders. In a nod to the times, a turbocharged four-cylinder opens the lineup and a hybrid six-cylinder is used throughout the brunt of the lineup. The V-8 is reserved for the uppermost trims.
|Engine Type||Horsepower||Torque||Max Towing||Fuel Economy (Combined)|
|2.0L Turbo 4-Cylinder||296 hp||295 lb-ft||7,716 pounds||18 mpg|
|3.0L 6-Cylinder Hybrid||395 hp||406 lb-ft||8,201 pounds||19 mpg|
|5.0L Supercharged 8-Cylinder||518 hp||469 lb-ft||N/A||N/A|
The V-8 shares its standard four-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic with the humbler engine choices here. Only the V-8 can get to 60 mph in less than five seconds, however. That's quite a feat for something weighing nearly three tons.
Besides four-wheel drive, every Defender includes configurable Terrain Response software, locking differentials, and a coil-sprung suspension. It features up to 11.5 inches of ground clearance and can wade through 35 inches of water; for the latter, special settings can be queued up to optimize performance during such fording events.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The Defender comes standard with five-passenger seating. A no-cost third row increases seating capacity to seven passengers in the 110 model, but there isn't much room for those stuck back there. We'd prefer to order the front bench seat, which lets the front console convert into a seat for six-passenger seating.
The Defender 110 holds34 cubic feet of cargo aft of the rear seats and 78.8 cubic feet in total; subtract a few cubes if you order the third row. The Defender 90 manages 15.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 58.3 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.
The Defender comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a driver condition monitor, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and - in a rare move for any automaker - a surround-view camera. About the only thing not standard is adaptive cruise control, which costs $1,200.
Higher trims eventually incorporate adaptive cruise into their mix of standard features. The top models also add automatic high beams and a head-up display.
The entry-level infotainment system features a 10-inch color touchscreen that's supported by Land Rover's Pivi Pro software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is navigation and WiFi hotspot capability. SiriusXM radio, HD radio, and six-speaker audio come standard as well.
The Pivi Pro software isn't yet widespread across the Land Rover lineup; so far, only the Defender is using it. But compared to the brand's legacy system, Pivi Pro is faster, more intuitive, and able to accept over-the-air downloads.
The cheapest defender has two doors, four steel wheels, and one turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hoods. It comes with the raft of tech and safety features previously mentioned and also includes an auto-dimming mirror, cloth upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustment, and dual-zone climate control. The exterior sports black door handles, LED lights, and power-folding mirrors.
Options are plentiful. Some are bundled into packages, such as the $1,850 Towing Pack - hitch, receiver, an upgraded terrain management system, and a low-speed crawl control for use on trails - or the Cold Climate Pack that includes heated windshield washer jets, heated windshield, and a heated steering wheel.
Standalone options include heated rear seats ($500), tri-zone climate control ($1,075), and a head-up display ($970). The front bench seat is $900.
Compared to the base model, the S adds 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic high beams, and combination leather-and-cloth upholstery. The gauge cluster is upgraded to a digital 12.3-inch unit and a Meridian 10-speaker audio system replaces the base setup.
Options and packages are largely identical to what is available on the base model.
The X-Dynamic moniker is Land Rover's way of calling out the six-cylinder powertrain under the hood. That engine is to blame for the brunt of the upcharge over the four-cylinder S, but the X-Dynamic also illuminated sill plates, body-color door handles, and gloss-black 19-inch wheels.
The SE embellishes the Defender aesthetic with fog lights, signature daytime running lamps, automatic headlight leveling, and 20-inch wheels. The interior benefits from an electronically adjustable steering column, 12-way power front seats, and a 14-speaker Meridian audio system.
The HSE comes standard with adaptive cruise control, a panoramic roof, Windsor leather upholstery, and 14-way heated and cooled power seats.
The X is the toughest-looking Defender of the bunch with its black hood and roof, orange brake calipers, and a tinted satin lower grille finish. It wears glossy, dark gray 20-inch wheels to complete the look.
Other standard features include an electronic active differential, the upgraded Terrain Response 2 management system, and trail-specific cruise control. The interior sports walnut veneer trim and premium cabin lighting.
The eight-cylinder Defender gets black trim, 22-inch wheels, suede-and-leather seats, a heated suede steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, and heated rear seats. On the performance front, the V8 gets all the off-road trickery standard on the X as well as paddle shifters, adaptive dynamics for pavement shenanigans, and quad exhaust pipes.
Intended to be the ultimate in luxury, the Carpathian builds off the V8 model by primarily adding styling elements and unique trim. Features-wise, it is essentially as well equipped as the V8 model, which means every example comes fully loaded.
The pricing of the upper trims is outrageous, but a base model with one or two options is in our eyes a great deal. We'd go with the four-cylinder S model and buy the Towing Pack to get all the off-road goodies. It won't be as fast as the six-figure V8 model, but we'd be mighty happy with it.