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2023 Land Rover Defender Review: On- and Off-Road Champion

What do our experts think of the 2023 Land Rover Defender? We look at powertrain, interior options, trim levels, and more. Find out our thoughts here.

What’s new for the 2023 Land Rover Defender?

For the 30th anniversary of the Defender, 500 special edition 110 models will be built with white paint and steel wheels. In addition, an updated infotainment system that Land Rover calls PiviPro is standard across the lineup and now has Amazon Alexa integrated.

2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com

2023 Land Rover Defender – landroverusa.com |  Shop 2023 Land Rover Defender on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $53,050

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

18 City / 23 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 4-6

The Breakdown

Outstanding off-road capability

Excellent interior quality

Comfortable ride

Not very fuel-efficient

Can be expensive

Adaptive cruise isn’t standard

More a la carte options please

2023 Defender Specs

Trims & Pricing

Base - $53,050
S - $53,650
SE - $65,350
X-Dynamic SE - $68,250
30th Anniversary Edition - $76,350
X - $86,750
V8 - $105,750
V8 Carpathian - $112,750

2023 Land Rover Defender Powertrain

2023 Land Rover Defender 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
2023 Land Rover Defender 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com

Three very different power trains are available in the Defender. The base motor is a 296-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder and it’s above average compared to rivals in the segment. Despite a healthy power number, it can feel overburdened when a bevy of options is added to the SUV.

2023 Land Rover Defender 3.0L I6 - carsforsale.com
2023 Land Rover Defender 3.0L I6 - carsforsale.com

Above that is a turbocharged 395-horsepower inline-six and finally, a 518-horsepower supercharged V8 is also available. Every engine is fitted to an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The inline-six has been called underpowered by some but to us, it’s one of the best ways to go in the Defender. Not only is it more than powerful enough to do just about anything you could want to do, but it’s also the most fuel-efficient of the bunch.

2023 Land Rover Defender 5.0L V8 - carsforsale.com
2023 Land Rover Defender 5.0L V8 - carsforsale.com

Of course, it’s hard to dismiss the personality of the V8. It’s loud, it’s brash, and it’s just fun to drive. Thanks in part to the independent suspension, every Defender has good manners on the road too. It drives more like the new Grand Cherokee than the Wrangler. When equipped with the optional air springs the SUV can change its ride height at the push of a button.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Defender is even better off-road than it is on it. It has more ground clearance and a deeper wading depth than the Jeep Wrangler too. For our money, the American can’t go as far as the Brit.

Towing & Payload

2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com

When properly equipped, the Defender can tow up to 8,200-pounds which is almost twice what the Ford Bronco maxes out at. The Jeep Wrangler fairs even worse so once again, we have to give credit to Land Rover for its great towing capacity.

2023 Land Rover Defender Fuel Economy & MPG

Overall, the Land Rover Defender isn’t a fuel-sipper by any means. The base four-cylinder engine gets an EPA estimated 19 MPG combined. The inline-six actually bests that number by one and the V8 drops down to just 16. A future hybrid model could be in the works but for now, buyers will have to be content with those modest figures.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

No other vehicle in this space at this price looks and feels as nice inside as the Defender. The base model along with the S and SE trim levels are a bit more sparse and the materials found within aren’t nearly as nice as the upper trims but frankly, they’re still very nice. The controls are well laid out and the design of the dash is clean and straightforward.

We also really like the way that those more expensive trims feel. The seats and switchgear complement the cabin and provide the premium feel that other Land Rover products offer. Simple little touches remind occupants that this is a serious vehicle though. We love the magnesium support that spans the dash as well as the safari windows and the exposed hardware in select spots.

Rear seat comfort is compromised in the short Defender 90 but those that need real space can simply go for the four-door 110 since pricing is nearly identical between the two. Cargo space is on par with others in this space. One big difference between the Defender and its biggest rivals, the Wrangler and Bronco is the distinct lack of removable panels. Don’t expect to pull the roof or the doors off of a Defender.

Entertainment & Technology

2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com

Midway through the year, due to the chip shortage, Land Rover had to swap from an 11.4-inch infotainment system to a slightly smaller 10.25-inch unit. Despite that, both systems work incredibly well and are a huge improvement over the last generation user interface. In fact, we like it more than every other Land Rover product’s dual-screen system. New for 2023 is the integration of Amazon Alexa in the system and for the most part, it works well. Some commands were hit and miss but we’d rather have the option to use it than not have it at all.

Additionally, we really like the inclusion of a generous charging network inside the cabin. A wireless charging pad is surrounded by a number of different ports including USB and USB-C. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard features as is integrated navigation, a WiFi-Hotspot, and a six-speaker audio system. Those who want them can add a heads-up display as well as a premium Meridian sound system.

Safety Features

Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has yet to release data on its testing of the 2023 Land Rover Defender but we can certainly comment on its standard and optional safety equipment. Lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and forward collision mitigation are all standard across the Defender range. In addition, buyers can add full-speed adaptive cruise control.

2023 Land Rover Defender Trims & Pricing

2023 Land Rover Defender Base - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender Base - landroverusa.com

Base – $53,050

The base Defender comes with 18-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, roof rails, heated power-adjustable front seats, remote monitoring via a smartphone app, and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This trim can only be had on the longer wheelbase 110 configuration.

2023 Land Rover Defender S - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender S - landroverusa.com

S – $53,650

Bump up to the S and you’ll get 19-inch wheels, 12-way semi-power-adjustable front seats, a digital instrument panel, leather upholstery, automatic high beams, and a 10-speaker Meridian audio system.

2023 Land Rover Defender SE - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender SE - landroverusa.com

SE – $65,350

Consider this as the first pseudo-luxury trim. It adds the inline-six engine, cooled front seats, 14-way power-adjustable seats, a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, and a 15-speaker sound system.

2023 Land Rover Defender X-Dynamic SE - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender X-Dynamic SE - landroverusa.com

X-Dynamic SE – $68,250

Little more than an appearance package, the X-dynamic gets two-tone faux leather upholstery and special exterior trim.

2023 Land Rover Defender 30th Anniversary Edition - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender 30th Anniversary Edition - landroverusa.com

30th Anniversary Edition – $76,350

This trim is only available on the 110 model with the four-cylinder engine. It gets 18-inch wheels, white exterior paint, an ebony interior, and a black roof rack.

2023 Land Rover Defender X - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender X - landroverusa.com

X – $86,750

Here’s the first hardcore off-road version. It gets heated rear seats, a heads-up display, adaptive air suspension, an upgraded terrain response system, an electronic locking differential, a digital rearview mirror, and adaptive cruise control.

2023 Land Rover Defender V8 - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender V8 - landroverusa.com

V8 – $105,750

Posh is the name of the game with the V8 Defender. It gets 22-inch wheels, faux suede trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, automated steering when reversing a trailer, a refrigerator console bin, a heated steering wheel, and heated washer jets.

2023 Land Rover Defender V8 Carpathian - landroverusa.com
2023 Land Rover Defender V8 Carpathian - landroverusa.com

V8 Carpathian – $112,750

This appearance package adds special dark accents to the exterior and interior as well as unique black wheels.

Warranties

Every Defender comes with a Limited warranty that covers the SUV for four years or 50,000 miles. The powertrain is covered for the same time period. No complimentary maintenance is offered.

What we think

2023 Land Rover Defender - landroverusa.com

2023 Land Rover Defender – landroverusa.com |  Shop 2023 Land Rover Defender on Carsforsale.com

The more expensive trims in the Defender lineup are harder to justify but the bottom three or four are sincerely excellent value for money when compared to their rivals. The Defender is better to drive on road, just as capable if not more capable off-road, and has a nicer interior too. For those who have the cash to spend, it also features an awesome V8 engine that’ll have Wrangler 392 and Bronco Raptor owners jealous.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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