2022 Land Rover Defender Review
Combining classic Land Rover styling, a luxurious interior and enviable off-road performance, the new Land Rover Defender has quickly become one of our higher-ranked midsize luxury SUVs. But Land Rover isn't content to sit back and bask in its success — the automaker is introducing a host of updates for the 2022 Defender.
Headlining the changes for the 2022 Land Rover Defender is the addition of a supercharged V8. Available in both two-door (Defender 90) and four-door (Defender 110) body styles, the eight-cylinder produces an impressive 518 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. It should endow the Defender with muscular acceleration and make it a worthy rival to V8-powered German SUVs or even the new V8-powered Jeep Wrangler.
A handful of new trim levels also offer Defender buyers a deeper level of customization. The XS Edition effectively replaces the 2020 model's First Edition trim, which ticked nearly every option box and added a few details not found on any other model. There's also the new range-topping Carpathian Edition that starts with the V8 engine and includes a custom-look gray paint scheme as well as a limited-edition Trophy Edition inspired by another limited edition of the classic Defender SUV (the Works V8 Trophy).
Overall, we think the Defender is a solid pick for a midsize luxury SUV, and especially so if you want one with genuine off-road capability and lots of ways to customize it. Check out our Expert Rating below to get our team's full analysis of its performance, comfort and more.
The Land Rover Defender packs legitimate off-road capability — provided you pick the right options — and makes no sacrifice in on-road comfort. It's an admirable accomplishment. Overall, we're impressed with this modern interpretation of a classic nameplate.
How does the Defender drive?
Strong off-road capability typically comes at the expense of on-road handling and steering precision. But that isn't the case here. The Defender 110 drives just like a luxury SUV should, and its transmission provides smooth and often imperceptible gear changes. The brakes are easy to control for smooth stops around town.
As for acceleration, we clocked a 0-60 mph sprint of 6.7 seconds in our V6-equipped Defender test vehicle. That's plenty quick for an off-road-oriented SUV. Still, with 395 hp, you might expect a little more. Weight might be a culprit; our test Defender weighed a portly 5,571 pounds.
How comfortable is the Defender?
The Defender travels down the road with the refinement you'd expect of a luxury-priced Land Rover. The interior remains quiet and free from road vibrations even when the Defender's riding on the optional 20-inch wheels and all-terrain tires. In terms of ride quality, our test vehicle was on the firm side when going over bumps and road imperfections, but it was likely the result of those wheels (18-inch wheels are standard).
The driver's seat provides a wide range of adjustment. Heating and ventilation are optional. The climate system is able to maintain a comfortable temperature, though you might need to fiddle with the vents to get the airflow you want.
How’s the interior?
The four-door Defender's massive second row and tall roof give the cabin a very roomy feel. Headroom, legroom and shoulder room are plentiful, though the steering column can get in the way of some drivers' knees when they get in. The height-adjusting air suspension, numerous grab handles and large doors make access easy.
A few interior controls have steep learning curves. The climate control dials, for example, double as drive mode selectors and seat heating/ventilation adjustment. Large windows and appropriately sized mirrors make outward visibility a non-issue. On the downside, the leather, fabric and other materials in our test SUV showed early signs of wear, including stains and scuffs.
How’s the tech?
The wide entertainment touchscreen and available digital gauge cluster are attractive and generally respond quickly to inputs. The native voice command system was a bit hit-or-miss in our tests. We had no difficulty changing stereo stations using natural language, but it couldn't decipher basic navigation requests. Fortunately you can use your phone's voice controls on Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which are standard. Numerous connectivity options include wireless charging and multiple USB ports.
As for driving aids, the surround-view camera system helps both in parking lots and going off-road, and it provides a comprehensive view of whatever obstacle you're approaching. Adaptive cruise control is pleasant as well and makes appropriate speed corrections smoothly.
How’s the storage?
The four-door Defender has a generous amount of storage space, both with the rear seats up or lowered for maximum capacity. The rear seats are heavy, and it can take some oomph to push them back in place.
With the air suspension, you can also lower the Defender's ride height from the cargo area, which makes loading easier. Unlike like most SUVs, the Defender has a swing-out tailgate instead of a liftgate. It swings out toward the curb, which not everyone will like because it can impede access. It's also heavy because of the mounted spare tire.
Inside, the Defender has long shelves for the front seats and multilevel storage by the center console. There are numerous places to store small items, but none large enough to hold a medium handbag. The sheer size of the second row makes car seat installation easy, as does the obvious location of the attachment points. An available tow package allows the Defender to tow 8,200 pounds. But it doesn't include a trailer brake controller, which you'll want to help control and adjust a heavy trailer's brakes.
How’s the fuel economy?
The Defender 110 equipped with the 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined (17 city/22 highway). That's higher than most off-road-oriented SUVs such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and 4Runner, as well as the pricier Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The Jeep Wrangler advertises higher figures with most of its engines.
Is the Defender a good value?
The Defender has a comfortable entry price at around $50,000. When optioned sensibly, it marries off-road capability and on-road refinement in a way that justifies paying the premium for it over, say, the Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner. Even equipped with a fair number of options, it costs less than the Toyota Land Cruiser.
On the downside, our test vehicle had multiple misaligned body panels and a few interior rattles. The interior materials didn't quite seem to reflect the $72,000 as-tested price — they were already showing signs of wear, markings and stains. Our test vehicle was an early build version that was undoubtedly used hard, but hard use is what a Defender should be built to withstand.
Personality is important to the Defender, and the new one gets the important parts of the classic Defender's proportions right. It looks cool from most angles, but we still think the front end looks a bit soft, and the optional plastic bits on the hood that are styled to look like diamond-plated metal elicit plenty of chuckles. We wish it looked a bit tougher.
The Defender drives with refinement and dignity whether you're on- or off-road. While the level of electronic control is nifty, we find it more satisfying to manually engage diff locks and low range with physical buttons and levers. Still, it's hard to argue with the seamlessness of the Defender's approach.
Which Defender does Edmunds recommend?
We suggest going with the Defender X-Dynamic SE. You get the more powerful six-cylinder engine than the base Defender as well as an appealing mix of features. As a midtier trim, you can also customize it with a few extra features (we'd add the larger 11.4-inch screen) without paying for the fully loaded X.
Land Rover Defender models
The 2022 Defender is available in two body styles: the two-door Land Rover Defender 90 and four-door Land Rover Defender 110. There are a variety of trim levels depending what basic model you choose. There are also one of three available engine options.