2021 Land Rover Defender 110 Review

Bloody Brilliant.

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Even though the Defender left North America in late 90’s due to its critical lack of airbags, among other safety “flaws”, it’s not uncommon to see one of these relics hurdling down the road, like a ginormous sheet metal contraption combatting the inevitability of physics while pumping out thick diesel smoke from an old turbodiesel Land Rover Engine.

While the Defender was out defending, Land Rover’s future pressed on with questionably-reliable unibody SUVs sporting a distinct British flair that stood out of the water in the sea of German SUVs that still seem to proliferate like they’re going out of style.

Chic-rugged is a new automotive art period

Old and notorious truck names are copiously – and sometimes blindly – being resuscitated these days. Often times manufacturers forget to carry over the complete heritage, taming highly capable body on frame trucks into docile family vehicles that bear the same name.

2021 land rover defender 110 side
2021 Defender 110. Photo: Land Rover

While the previous generation Defender was transporting explorers to far places where no bars appear on cell phones and policing civil war-ridden territories in the hand of treaty-defying nations, the new Defender will – let’s be honest here – carry spoiled children with iPads glued to their faces to a dreaded soccer practice.

New Defender 110’s interior

But owners still want the consolation of having purchased a cool-looking off-roader. And the Defender 110 caters to both needs with such distinct. The higher than normal driving position, the rugged dashboard inspired by a minimalistic approach, all the while cleverly blending suede-like materials and technology to justify the price tag.

There’s nothing minimalistic about the infotainment system, though, which is displayed on clear ten-inch screen right in the centre of the dashboard. Its functionalities are multiple, but the interface can be somewhat confusing at times. 

Other interior irritants include the cluster of analog buttons for the ventilation, which can be tricky to obtain basic results out of. 

Key interior specs from Jaguar’s site:

Maximum front/rear headroom with standard roof (mm)1,032 / 1,025
Maximum front/rear headroom with panoramic/fabric roof (mm)1,032 / 1,025
Maximum front/rear legroom (mm)993 / 992 (5 seats) | 975 (5+2 seats)
Height (mm)904
Width (mm)1,211 (5 seats) / 1,188 (5+2 seats)
Rear cargo, Dry (litres) – Maximum loadspace volume behind third row160
Rear cargo, Wet (litres) – Maximum loadspace volume behind third row
Maximum loadspace volume behind second row – Wet (litres)972 (5 seats) / 916 (5+2 seats)

Defender’s off-road abilities

Semi-autonomous off-roading, if you will

2021 land rover defender 110 offroad
2021 Defender 110. Photo: Land Rover

Although it strayed from the boxy, austere looks from the Defender as we know it, the new off-roader is still fitted with a slew of mechanical off-road features. However, they are now controlled by advanced electronics.

When confronted to a rocky road or steep hill, you can always resort to the Defender’s grey matter, like a coach that will let you play, and take the wheel and pedals if things are about to go sour.

Terrain Response 2 system

The Terrain Response 2 system is the brain behind this. It configures optimally in Auto mode, which is the setting the common individual should leave it in. Beyond this comes a variety of modes for a range of situations – some more improbable than others, but still it’s good to have. A Custom mode allows you to calibrate engine, transmission, steering, and traction control, multiplying the possibilities of getting yourself in trouble.

2021 land rover defender 110 rear
2021 Defender 110. Photo: Land Rover

In precipitated situations, you can just simply press the upwards arrow in the dashboard when you see something scary coming ahead and the Defender will jump up 3-inches almost instantly.

A camera that allows you to see through the front and look directly at what’s coming up underneath is another helpful gizmo. Otherwise, the Defender 110 has the ability to climb a 45-degree incline, and wade through 900 millimetres of water. 

Everyday driving performance

An impressive highway cruiser, despite its feisty character

P400 powerplant

Now with the fun parts out of the way, let’s talk about how the Defender 110 will mostly be used, on a day-to-day basis. Accelerations in our Defender 110 were provided by the P400 powerplant, which is comprised of a six-cylinder powerplant boasting 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.

2021 land rover defender 110 sideview
2021 Defender 110. Photo: Land Rover

This one is decked with MHEV technology belt alternator/starter setup and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery that obliterates lower rpm lag. It is mated to an 8-speed auto transmission that links to the AWD system. Shifting is smoothly operated from a standstill to a full go, and pick-ups on the highway are handled in more than reasonable delays.

When cruising down the highway, the Defender 110 provides a remarkably smooth ride. The suspension system cleverly adapts to kinks and crevasses on rough pavement, but it also tames the boisterous off-road behaviour into a smooth ride when on smooth surfaces at high speeds.

Takeaway: is the 2021 Land Rover Defender 110 worth it?

2021 land rover defender 110 rear taillight
2021 Defender 110. Photo: Land Rover

So the 2021 Land Rover Defender 110 is bloody brilliant, as the Brits would say. Its looks have been updated and modernized to fit the profile of common SUVs, but thanks to Defender’s educated mind, it now shines with some of the most advanced off-road tech ever to be integrated on a truck. 

Louis-Philippe Dubé
Louis-Philippe Dubé has been contributing to a variety of established motor outlets for years, including Quebec's Le Guide de l'Auto. His passion for everything automotive comes from a career as a mechanic, but also from the family vehicle collection that includes a 996 Porsche Turbo and a 2006 Ford GT.

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