Land Rover Defender Review

Land Rover Defender Launch – First Steer

CarAdvice rating:

Recommended Retail Price: $48,990 – $50,990.

– by Paul Maric

Spotting the differences between the all new Land Rover Defender and the original produced back in 1948 are hard for some. But, there is method to the madness. Land Rover has focussed on the ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ cliché and maintained the same shape over the years, simply refining an already capable package.

Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review

Land Rover hasn’t tried to modernise the Defender and openly admits that it’s a niche vehicle that serves one purpose – and does so incredibly well.

In line with the car’s rugged nature, the launch program saw the constituent of journalists tackle some hardcore 4WD terrain, while also going back to basics and camping out in the bush.

The variation of 4WD tracks demonstrated the tremendous off-road ability of the Defender. With a staggering 314mm of ground clearance, stray rocks and obstacles are rarely a problem. The new Defender features a full-time 4WD system, with a low range gearbox and lockable differential.

Under the bonnet, a new 2.4-litre, four cylinder turbocharged diesel motor produces 90kW and 360Nm of torque – with over 300Nm of torque available from 1500RPM. Power is sent through a 6-speed manual gearbox. The clutch is a pretty heavy unit, so it requires plenty of foot work to transition through gears – making me cringe at the thought of peak hour traffic! Fuel consumption is rated at 11.0-litres/100km.

With improved heating and air-conditioning, the cabin can now be cooled in around half the time of the old system. A 14-litre stowage area is available inside the centre console, allowing the storage of the largest of items. Don’t worry about getting the cabin dirty either, as the entire floor can be hosed down after a dirty weekend away – so to speak.

Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review

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As the Defender is true to its 4WD heritage, don’t expect much from highway cruising. Although it’s not overly loud in the cabin, the handling dynamics are certainly nothing to write home about – but only so much can be expected from a vehicle of this calibre. First gear’s ratio has been altered to allow a reduction in crawl speed, so starting off in second gear is generally more sensible.

Two models are available in the Defender range – the 110 Station Wagon and the 130 Crew Cab Chassis. Priced at $48,990 and $50,990 respectively, the only options available are Metallic Paint ($900) and 7-seats (110 model only, $2000). The Defender’s price point undercuts Toyota’s 70-series Landcruiser by a considerable margin.

Standard features include: Air-conditioning; central locking; CD player; electric front windows; traction control; ABS brakes; power steering and full-sized spare wheel.

The engine has been designed to work at angles of up to 45-degrees, meaning that trekking on angled terrains won’t cause any issues. Wading depth is 500mm and towing is taken care of by a class leading 3.5-tonne towing capacity.

Although some may refer to the styling as dated, there’s no arguing the fact that the new Defender is just as capable as it always has been – if not more. Having trekked some seriously rough terrain in the Defender, I’m yet to imagine a place it couldn’t tackle.

Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review
Land Rover Defender Review

The Defender isn’t for everyone, but with over 1.6 million sales worldwide since its inception, there is certainly a group of people who can’t get enough of these things. Witnessing the Land Rover Defender’s off-road ability has given me a new appreciation for the Landie and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to an adventurer at heart, as it’s an off-roaders weapon of choice.

  • tony

    The off road king!

  • George

    Now THAT looks like fun.

  • Karl Peskett

    Agreed George. You can’t get much better than that!

  • Bubba Ganush

    I hope that shape stays around for ages i like it because it is rugged and basic, Built to be thrashed!

  • Jason

    Absolutely superb photos guys.

  • Spitfire

    $900 for metallic paint,why would any one bother?

  • Me.

    Testing them to their limits.

  • Ben

    Where did you guys go to take those great shots of the Defender? They are awsome well done! I want to go there with my Ranger….

  • tuffguy

    Gee for an extra few thousand you could get a Hummer which looks and goes a hell of a lot better than the old Defender. And don’t waffle on about how big the Hummer is, remember it is smaller than a Kluger.

    • Nath746

      I think that if you want a Hummer instead of this you are insane. This is by far one of my favourite vehicles in the world and the Hummer is almost at the bottom of the list. The Hummer may be more comfortable to drive long distances, but thats not why you buy a defender. You buy them for off-road ability. The Hummer is a rubbish vehicle and if you would rather have a hummer, you might aswell get a Nissan Patrol Diesel – about the same price and nicer to drive. more fuel efficient than a hummer too. Well Done Land Rover! Great Car!

    • Azza

      The hummer uses an extra 5 litres or so than the defender and you can’t get it as a 7 seater landrover rules !!!!!!!

    • me

      Hummers fail, they don’t have even one solid axel, and torque that is waisted on a heavy clunk of iron, sitting on a useless chassis, That would crush instantly is a defender hit it with it’s ladder steal chassis. OH YEAH, AND HUMMERS ARE FREAKIN UGLY!!!

  • Reckless1

    I’m a bit puzzled by the wading depth, at a pathetic 500mm – the ground clearance is 314mm.

    The Touareg has 215mm ground clearance and 500mm wading depth, which is the same as this thing?????

    The LR has 4 inches more clearance but only the same wading depth …Something doesn’t compute …

    No mention of airbags – does this have airbags? If not, I’ll give LR the same serve I give Toyota for the 70 series – CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE not to have airbags in 2007.

    I agree with Tuffguy – the Hummer blows this thing to the weeds, and has all safety requirements under control.

    I’ll repeat myself from an earlier thread – It’s a LR – BEWARE.

    • http://KIA landy lad

      Reckless1 – you sound a little green. I drive a patrol and really work it. I will list below the vehicles that I truelly respect in the outback below. You really need to own these sort of vehicles for some years before you can understand their capabilty And Yeah, Land Rover are always conservitive with their figures. Dont worry, you\\\\\\\’ll find the Defender will swim in far greater depths with a snorkel, than any of these vehicles you have mentioned. Try not to compare the Toureg with a Defender. Touregs are just not built to go where a Defender, or Patrol, or Land Crusier will, and even some Jeeps. I cant think of any other 4wd that fits into this go anywhere group of offroaders.

      You might have a point with the air bags – but if Im looking for an off roader – airbags would be on the very bottom of my list of requirements.

  • tony

    it doesn’t really matter whether you hit a few trees or get the side panels all scratched up with the Defender.

    It does with a shiny new yellow H3!

    I’m not saying the Hummer isn’t capable – it is, but I wouldn’t want it all scuffed up, would you?

    The Defender is an out and out workhorse that is built to last 50 plus years – try that in a Hummer!

  • Frugal One

    A Toyota and Nissan would s*hit all over these oil leaking appaling built vehicles

    I would happly pay the extra for a Japanese made 4×4.


    The only thing missing from the photos and test is…

    “Powered by Ford”, yes Virginia, its a Transit engine under the bonnet




    • dave b

      You said it yourself. The Aussie army are buying Benz’s, not Toyotas or Nissans.

      • Tomas79

        Australian Army has plenty of toyotas and are still buying them!!

        • akula

          For blacktop only use, lol.

    • Nick


    • akula

      Land Rover did not tender this time round, they were hardly dumped, further how do you account for the 40 years non-stop they were used? And FYI the Toyo FJ series were trialled at one stage, and well they remained with LR.

  • David

    The last Defender had the TD5 under the bonnet.
    Backward step?

  • Me.

    Alot of the Series one one Land Rovers had Holden red motors put in them, the one I know has a 173cu. There frame rusted out from the inside because they were boxed in.

  • Me.

    That was the series one one, the series ones had Ferguson tractor engines and what a “put, put, bang” shaking car they were.

  • Me.

    In case you don’t know what I mean by one-one, I went crazy then, sorry. LOL 😛 I ment 2, because I’ve seen some funny ways of saying 2 on this site, e.g. 11 for 2.

  • Astro Boy

    The new 4cyl has a variable geometry turbo and has more torque at lower rpm’s and the 6th gear is taller and 1st gear is shorter… i guess a lot of 2nd gear starting. Get over yourself japanese 4wd loving people. I got a Land Rover 3.5L V8, which is the same motor as the Range Rover’s and its a tray back i dont use it much now coz it cost too much to run lol, but the motor has never been touched and it has no leaks! And it has no rust because its made of aluminum! only there is surface rust on the firewall which is steel between the mudguard and door because it was used to tow boats on the beach. It pulled a submerged boat trailer that had its wheels sunk in the sand off the beach. The rear end of the LR had the ocean splashing over it. I had to hose all the seaweed and beach sand off the rear. For what it is.. a proper off road vehicle it is better and more practical than a landcruiser or patrol. All the panels can be easily removed and the body over time will not weaken from stress. I’m not a die hard landrover fan i have a FJ62 which is brilliant as well. But i wouldnt put the toyota through what the LR has gone through it would have corroded away by now.

    remember the land rover was designed as a lightweight vehicle for air lifting and is made out of aluminum because after WWII thats all they had left from airplanes. They were also painted the same green as spitfires. You cant compare the 70 series to the LR, the LR was made for war… the landcruiser wasnt.

    Frugal one, the land rover is being dumped because they have stopped making the old diesel that couldnt be stopped by a EMP and the TD5 would require electronic diagnostic equipment to service… so the army doesnt want that and the extra power resulted in people crashing. Also the land rover doesnt have enough armor and has weight carrying limits because it was designed to be a light weight vehicle. The army has found them to be very reliable so i dont know what hell your on about.

  • Benjie

    Frugal One:

    The Australian Army has actually renewed their contract with Land Rover, not dumped it. Get your facts straight champ.


      Oh really?

      So those Benzs on order and being deliver are fantasy?

      Get OVER it, FrugalOnbe is ALWAYS 100% RIGHT

  • Bavarian Missile

    Sorry but Im with Benjie!. This is the best !

    I base my thoughts on my Dads! If he believes in them …… do I!

    He has posture in my heart! Yes he has used them!!!!!!!!!

    I love Land cruisers but he keeps telling me their better!

  • Iamthestig

    Frugal One wrong again ? – Happens every day !

    That is four big porkies in the last week. I take back my vote for his Top Gear appearance as he obviously wouldn’t be suited. Looks like he should have been a runner for PM on Saturday though !!!

  • Casey

    I think the LR Defender’s record speaks for itself. It’ll be 60 next year and is probably the only real 4×4 on the market that owner’s aren’t afraid to use to its full potential.

    The military applications of the vehicle of this time frame is further evidence of just how capable it really is.

    Good on LR for sticking with Defender, I persoanlly hope it’s around for a long time to come.

  • Frugal One

    Clarkson [correctly] on L/Rover rubbish:

    “As a result the company went bust and along came the Germans, who demonstrated with the new Mini that tradition doesn’t necessarily mean driving to work in the automotive equivalent of rickets.
    We see exactly the same with the “proper old Land Rover”. It’s rubbish: uncomfortable, slow, impractical and with prices starting at £20,000, not that cheap. But nobody has the courage to pull the plug on a 60-year tradition, and start again. But somebody should.”

    Yeap, even Poms hate them.

    Thats why on the 7th day God created Toyota:-)



  • Cookie

    I bought a defender back in 2001 – a TD5. The main reason was that it could go EVERYWHERE. The only equivalent Jap at the time was the Troopy with the optional diff locks and that was less fuel efficient and $15K more expensive.
    I’ve done some pretty serious 4wd trips over the years and it has never let me down.
    My bigest gripe is the price of spare parts, try paying $56 each for wheel nuts!! I’m told LR do not import their own spares, they are imported by Caterpillar which may have something to do with it.
    I would happily buy the new Defender but I don’t need to, mine is still in top condition and looks to have many more years of service life left. Cheers.

  • Reckless1

    How much does the nut behind the wheel cost?

    Not sure why anyone would have to buy a wheel nut – I’ve been driving and have owned at least two cars for the last 40 years. I’ve never had to buy a wheel nut…..

    And remember, fast moving parts are usually cheaper, but a LR wheelnut couldn’t be a fast moving part, could it :)

  • Brian Green

    Well Frugal One is a muppet. If he thinks “even the poms hate them” is correct he should visit the Uk and the rest of Europe. The Defender is immensely popular and is the vehicle of choice for anybody who wants a heavy duty working vehicle. Around 6000 a year are sold in the UK, 3000 in Italy, 2000 in Germany, France 1800, Spain 1200 etc. The are the main light utility vehicle of the Italian, French,Potugese, Czech ( and many more) Govt’s and extremely popular as fire dept vehicles in switzerland and Austria.

    Toyota ,(who make good cars, I drive a UK built Avensis)decided to withdraw the 70 series from the EU markets as sales ( a few hundread per annum) could not justify the expense of Euro 4 approval. It may be a toyota world in Au but it is a Land rover world up here.

    Why is it that australian Toyota owners hate Land Rover so much? Why can’t they accept that the Defender does what it is meant to do very well.

    • rob

      the only reason landrovers have not taken over the 4×4 world in australia is because the dealers in australia charge 4 and even 10 times the price for parts than the uk dealer.and the service atitude with all mechanic shops is hes rich he drives a landrover we will sock it to him this reason sees landrovers go without repairs and maintenence and its all down hill from there.
      Being a aussie army mechanic i have found our defender to be a fantastic vehicle but due to the new fleet being all automatic landrover is not considered. I owned a disco and could not rate it high enough. the only let down was fuel consumption was that of a toyota landcruiser (a lot)
      I bought all my parts from the uk and shiped them home to australia. companies like paddock spares are exilent and atleast half the cost than australian dealers like 10 bucks for a tie rod end. second hand landrovers are cheap and now I have shown you parts are too. go try one and spend the extra money you would have spent on a toyota on your home loan. as for fording dept, they deliberatly rate them low because most people to not check the water depth. I have done 750mm in a army defender without a snorkle with a hutchie on the front and 600mm in my petrol landrover discovery petrol v8 with no prep across the renolds river in nt only to get to suprise falls surounded by toyota diesel owners . I heard a wife of one toyota owner say to her husband (see you didnt have to spend 70 f#@%in grand to get here we could have paid our house off) made me smile considering my top of the range es cost me 14k with 102000 kms on it from a melbourne city slicker. he sold it because the landrover dealer that had serviced it since new said because its 10 years old the airbags must be replaced and quoted nearly 10k to do this. when the car was 15years old some drugo in a 2010 patrol ran a red light. my wife recieved a busted rib from the airbag impact at 80kms head one. the patrol driver nealy died. the patrol had no cabin glass left and roof bent like a banna but my disco had all of its glass and the doors all opended allowing witnesses to open the doors and get my children and wife out and walk away. the patrol driver stayed there untill he was cut out with the jaws of life.
      go buy a series one disco they saved my family and took me to amaizing places with comfort and speed. over 100kms per hour on almoast all nt dirt roads. back when we had no speed limit.

  • Frugal One

    Jason Says:
    November 21st, 2007 at 4:53 pm
    Absolutely superb photos guys.

    I believe photos where supplied by LRA as others are using them too



  • Frugal One

    Why is it that australian Toyota owners hate Land Rover so much? Why can’t they accept that the Defender does what it is meant to do very well.

    Because L/R’s are shit!

    Always have been, always will.FULL-STOP



    • akula

      It sounds like you have the Toyozealot-Overcompensation Syndrome Frugal, help is available ya know.

  • Benny

    Too right Frugal one.

    I am and apprentice 4wd mechanic and these things are absolutly hated for the very poor reliability.

    If it had a toyota motor maybe i would reconsider but Ford Transit just makes me shiver cause there nuthin special either. But the Ford motor Has to be more reliable!!

  • dullbird

    so frugle one

    exactly how many landrovers have you been in, driven and been off road in ?????? mmmmmmmmmm thought so another toyota driver with a mate of a mate story…..

    toyotas are reliable because you poof’s dont take em anywhere to get broke….

    a defender is an athelete…..yes rightly when you stress an athelete they get hurt.

    the toyota said while the defender was climbing the rocks “i will have a go at failing in a minute i’m just gunna finish me macca’s”
    there fat, and ugly and they weigh the same as a small warship….and you know what EVERY MAN AND HIS DOG HAS GOT ONE talk about conformists…be original..

    dont slate what you dont know about!!! get a life…oh and a half decent car, not saying buy a defender maybe by a vitara..that would still out perform your hunk of junk 😉

  • Tom

    I apologise to the Landcruiser lovers, but I no longer believe that the mighty Cruiser has a place in the ranks of true offroaders. It lacks the Landie’s ground clearance, having only 220mm, (Compared to 200 on the Subaru Outback, for Pete’s sake!) it has only 1970’s style LEAF SPRINGS at the back, and features part-time 4WD and optional difflocks compared to Defender’s constant 4WD, centre lock and traction control. It has a turning orbit, not a turning circle. The Cruiser uses a monstrous, gas-guzzling 4.5L V8 to achieve the same 3500kg towing capacity as the Landie’s frugal 2.4 four, with no doubt considerably more maintenance due to double the capacity, double the cylinders and no tall sixth gear to take the strain out of highway miles. I think some earlier comments from Toyota owners say it all – they actually fear that their much-vaunted engines are going to STOP, so far from a qualified mechanic? As a 300Tdi owner, I have no such fear, and I believe honestly that the same can be said for all Landie TD4’s, computer controlled or not. The ‘Cruiser, undoubtedly, is unparalleled at what it is designed and marketed for – commercial use. That’s construction sites and mine tunnels. Not offroading.
    Also, to the person who mentioned oil leaks; Dream on, sunshine.
    Apologies for the long-winded post!

  • danny boy

    Land Rover Rules..!
    from the day one, to present…
    don’t believe it?
    just see:
    The Darien Gap Expedition back in to the series landy era…
    The Camel Trophy back in to the golden era of “sand glow” vehicles…
    they all did an awesome job there, with a standard tires sizes, standar engine, standard gear plus winch…
    thats why i love em’…go standard, go landy, go anywhere…
    still need prove? my dad drove a landy series III (standar engine) back in 1990 on a expedition with his couple of friends (only using 1 vehicles). they only put a front PTO koenig winch, and standard 7.50×16 extra grip tires…4 days in hell, but they finally made it to the destination…

    I live in Indonesia which have so many land rover owner, land cruiser owner, jeep owner, jap’s 4×4 vehicles owner, etc…
    and they all respect each other…
    and so do i…
    I love landy, i love em’ just the way they are…
    and i respect other non landy 4×4 vehicles, cuz they have their own ability which different than landys…

    cheer up guys… =)
    go landy!
    go 4×4..!

  • Eater of frogs

    Defender is NOT a vehicule !
    It is an Art of living …

    No more words needed


    Have worked on them all for over 30 years. Owned 3 series 3 Rovers the last one for 17 years. Ex army 6 cylinder. My old man was a professional fisherman and he had series 2’s and 2A’s that never let him down. We had 19 miles of beach at the time we worked day and night and flogged them up and down soft beach and sand dunes most days for 16 years and thought nothing of it. Never had one ounce of trouble with any outside of enviromental issues. Salt water syndrome as we called it.

    I worked on a fleet of 157 Toyotas, 54 Nissan Patrols and enormous amounts of Suzuki and Dihatsu “road railers” for Queensland rail through out the 80’s. Landcruisers were a superior vehicle on road at speed back then but not any more, and believe you me they broke down as much as anything else. If I had a foolscap page I would tell you about every last thing Toyota owners won’t tell you from never ending sagged spring replacements at thousands of dollars per time, to transfer cases that blow to bits in reverse when trying to escape bog. Nor should idiots compare 30 year old Landrovers that have had a life time of abuse be compared to 2 year old Troop carriers. You only make fool of yourself. They were what they were and did a good job of it at the time. Workhorses as they were and in this day and age are a dying breed.

    “Benny” apprentice Mechanic above – meet Granddaddy Mechanic /Diesel fitter here.
    Son only when your friends at work have used, abused and relied on their vehicle for their lively hood, and life, should you or they ever pass judgement. The problem I noted some 20 years back is Toyota owners have overwelming urge to pass judgement on others. I have never found this with other vehicle make owners in any large degree. I dont know why this is as their Judgement is normally based on their own predjudice and oppinions not fact. I wonder how many of them have owned their Toyotas for more than a couple of years at best, or done more than a few rough trips here and there in them. Try 16 years day in day out mate and own a vehicle for 17 years then pass judgement not predjudice. On average a 30 year old Landy is still a goer – all but be a shit box goer – but still none the less a goer. A 30 year old Toyota is normally drank from at smoko time in the form of a coke can. I rest my case.

    If any one wants to know more about late model Prados, 6 wheeler tray backs ect we have 6 here at the moment in various states and 2 x 6 wheeler V8’s. I will give you unbiased fact not oppinion on their performance. All these vehicles spend their entire life off road and on road all year round as we are 2 hours west of longreach not the middle of brisbane.

  • Maximus

    I have to say; the defender is a much superior vehicle than the hummer; I’ve had a hummer and all I can say about it is that it’s a mid range 4×4 Christmas tree; not the most reliable of heaps either; bought a 110 defender last year and although it’s not a Xmas tree inside ; it is what it is ; a work horse , an absolutely outstanding 4wd. It stamps all over the hummer and spits it out in one chunk. Also had a jeep rubicon and that also stomps on the hummer; more room in the defender than the jeep ; it’s another great machine