Land Rover’s mighty Defender 110 V8
Sometimes reputation is everything. When it comes to vehicles like the Land Rover Defender, which came out in the 1980’s and has always been known for it’s ruggedness and versatility, making major changes can be tricky – as to not mess up it’s famous reputation. So in 2020 when Land Rover came out with the second generation Defender, it knew a lot was at stake. But after a few years, it looks like today’s Defender is succeeding in following in the original’s footsteps.
Land Rover’s biggest change to the Defender was switching from its original old body-on-frame setup to a more car-like unibody construction. It also replaces the old-school solid axles with a fully independent suspension, both to enhance the Defender’s on road drivability.
But don’t worry – the Defender hasn’t gone soft. Every Defender is equipped with four-wheel drive and locking differentials for navigating treacherous terrains. The Defender has 11.5 inches of ground clearance and can ford through 35 inches of water.
The styling of the Defender is what you would expect from Land Rover. A squared-off design with an upright appearance gives the Defender its trademark look as well as an aggressive stance. While it still looks boxy, bulging fender flares break up the flatness, providing some subtle curves in the overall design. For off-roaders, the short wheelbase and the small front and rear overhangs will be appreciated.
There is never mistaking the interior of a Land Rover, and the Defender is no exception. Much like its exterior, the interior appears to have started out as a box, and then gives way to a chiseled dashboard with a shelf that spans across the length of the cabin. Torx-head bolts scattered around the interior provide a technical look.
Today’s Defender is available in three different body styles. The Defender 90 is the shorter two-door model, the Defender 110 has four doors and two rows, while the Defender 130 has a longer wheelbase and accommodates three rows of seating. It was the a 2023 Defender 110 V8 that I recently had the opportunity to spend time with.
As the name of the tester implies, the Defender 110 has a V8 under the hood. With the aid of a supercharger, the eight-cylinder, which has a displacement of 5.0 liters and is referred to as the P525, makes 518 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. It’s routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Four-cylinder and six cylinder engines are offered on less-equipped Defenders. All Defenders come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Other goodies that the Defender 110 V8 gets are seats trimmed in black leather with extra suede, a full Alcantara steering wheel (which feels amazing) and V8 written on the illuminated sillplates.
The P525 really ignites the Defender, turning it into somewhat of a square rocket. with plenty of low-end torque this off-roader can sprint to 60 mph in just a few ticks past 5 seconds. So if power and speed is what you are after in an SUV, the Defender can sure supply it.
But it’s the Defender’s off-road abilities that give it the reputation of being one of the best off-road vehicles money can buy. It has an adjustable air suspension, adaptive dampers and Configurable Terrain Response – a system that allows you to tailor the vehicle’s behavior to various surfaces, like mud, sand, rocks and more. Combine that along with it’s generous ground clearance, short overhangs and powerful drivetrain, and it becomes clear why the Defender is considered a British mountain goat.
The Defender is certainly in a class of its own. Some may consider the Jeep Wrangler a cheaper alternative, but the Defender has it beat when it comes to on-road refinement and available luxury appointments. In fact, there are not many SUVs that are as capable as the Defender, and those that are – typically have a Land Rover badge on them.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2023 Land Rover Defender 110 V8
Base Price: $107,700.00
Price as Tested: $111,020.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: supercharged 5.0 V8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 518 hp
Torque: 461 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city / 19 mpg highway
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