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Lego Land Rover Defender Is a Great Way to Learn About (and Play) With Cars

The user-built model kit is a terrific gift idea for seasoned car enthusiasts and a fun STEM learning tool for budding young minds.

This story is part of 84 Days of Holiday, a collection that helps you find the perfect gift for anyone.

Looking for a gift for the automotive enthusiast in your life, but don't want to buy an actual car? Combining authentic design and engaging engineering, the Lego Technic Land Rover Defender model kit based on the legendary British SUV might just fit the bill and -- at just $199 -- it's almost certainly a better fit for your budget.

Why it's a great gift: Models in the Lego Technic series feature working mechanical bits and more moving parts and complex construction than your average Lego brick build. The automotive-themed kits are the highlight of the line, combining every mechanical building technique in Technic's bag of tricks with excellent showcase-worthy design.

With 2,573 parts, the Lego Technic Land Rover Defender build is an involved one. Along the way, builders will assemble a working four-speed transmission connected to an all-wheel drive system with three-differentials, a replica inline six-cylinder engine with moving pistons and a fully independent spring suspension, while learning how each of these components work. The kit also features a working winch, steering rack and authentic details like a roof rack loaded up with overlanding accessories. With the last piece clicked into place, the Defender stands 8 inches tall, stretches 16 inches long and is one of the most visually finished car models Technic offers -- with none of the unsightly gaps that plague some of the sports car kits.

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Lego's designers did an excellent job re-creating the aesthetic and engineering of the Defender 90.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

A longtime fan of Lego, I purchased my Land Rover Defender kit when it was released in 2019 -- with my own money, so this recommendation is a personal one. And I completed the build over the course of a few very fun days. Two years later, the Defender is still one of the best builds and best-looking kits Lego Technic offers -- Lego kits don't really age -- and a great fit for budding and seasoned automotive enthusiasts, as well as a fun STEM learning tool for older kids curious about how things work.

What you'll pay: Lego kits don't age but, unfortunately, they also rarely go on sale. Fortunately, the Land Rover Defender is one of the more affordable licensed Lego Technic sets at $199.

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