Land Rover Defender

Editors' Review

"I never drove it on pavement." That's the first thing Emme Hall told me when she got back from testing the 2020 Land Rover Defender in Africa earlier this year -- you know, back when traveling was still a thing. Indeed, Emme's weeklong safari through Namibia put the Defender's impressive off-road chops in the spotlight. But as I discovered over the course of a few days at home in Los Angeles, the Defender's a damn fine SUV for urban life, too.

Of course, I'm printing that alongside a bunch of photos of a dirty Defender that were clearly shot at an off-road park. But like, how could I not off-road this thing? I'll let Emme's first drive review get into the nitty-gritty details about how Land Rover's new SUV handles the rough stuff, though I will say the Defender had no trouble handling the same tricky trails I recently drove in a Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel, and all I had to do was raise the air suspension and shuffle through the various off-road modes.

The first round of Defenders to hit the US will be the four-door 110 version seen here; the two-door 90 arrives in the coming months, and it'll have a 2021 model year designation. Personally, I'm all about the 90, mostly because I've got a soft spot for stubby, two-door SUVs. The 110, meanwhile, is actually bigger than you might think. It has an imposing presence on the street and my first thought upon climbing inside is, wow, this is roomy.

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The Good ~ Unstoppable off-road ability ~ Classic style with a modern touch ~ Lots of room for passengers and cargo ~ Punchy 3.0-liter mild-hybrid I6

The Bad ~ New infotainment tech is still touch-and-go ~ Vague steering feel ~ Poor fuel economy

The Bottom Line Land Rover's new Defender is as capable on-road as it is when the going gets tough.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Design 8.5
  • Media 7.5

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