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2021 Land Rover Defender Overview

The much anticipated two-door Defender 90 body style, delayed due to COVID-19, finally arrives for the 2021 model year, along with a new X-Dynamic trim level. With the addition of the two-door configuration, along with the style-over-substance X-Dynamic trim, the Defender finally rounds out its list of capabilities.

To start, buyers will now have to choose between two-door Defender 90 and four-door Defender 110 body styles. From there, seven trim levels offer a wealth of possibilities, whether you’re looking for all-out off-road capability or more of a luxury experience.

There’s a choice of two engines—a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder that delivers 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, or a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with an impressive 395 hp and 406 lb-ft. Most will be satisfied with the four-cylinder, but for serious rock-crawling (or serious bragging rights) the six-cylinder delivers everything you could want, with a mild-hybrid system and an electric supercharger to deal with turbo lag. That said, if your main interest is in having the maximum amount of power or cylinders, there’s a V8 version reportedly coming that should get your juices flowing.

If you choose the 90, going with the Base or S trim will get you that inline-four engine, and moving up through the trim ladder, the X-Dynamic, First Edition, and the X all come with six cylinders. The 110 follows much the same pattern, with a six-cylinder SE trim slotted in below the X-Dynamic. All versions come with four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, automatic locking differentials, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Base versions show up with 18-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, and an adjustable air suspension. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as well as forward-collision warning with auto brake.

While the old Defender utilized a more traditional body-on-frame construction, this Defender is a unibody affair. This means the old solid axles have been replaced here with a fully independent suspension at all four corners. Still, even the base model is a competitor when it comes to off-roading. The 110 claims better break-over and departure angles than even the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and the 90 bests the 110, with a 31-degree break-over angle. Both versions offer 11.5 inches of ground clearance and a 35.4-inch wading depth.

Moving up to the S trim gets you 19-inch wheels and leather, while the SE goes for 20-inch alloys with an upgraded stereo, auto high beams, 12-way power seats, and an upgraded digital display for the gauge cluster. The First Edition trim should be very popular, especially in the 90 configuration, with its unique paint and trim, as well as some enhanced off-road chops, but it’s the 110’s X-Dynamic HSE that’ll really impress with a panoramic sunroof and premium leather. However, it’s a little disappointing that the X-Dynamic HSE’s heated and ventilated front seats and adaptive cruise control weren’t standard before this trim.

The new X-Dynamic trim should be a winner too, with extra off-road capability without the cost of some of the luxury features, but those who want to check every box will gravitate toward the top-tier X trim, with its unique styling and paint, a head-up display, 15-speaker stereo, and heated seats for the second row. The lower trims come with a long list of options, but the X gets basically the whole shebang. And when I say there’s a long list of options, I’m talking 170 items long. You can get lost in that list, so there are also four helpful accessory bundles—Expedition, Adventure, Country, and Urban—all categorized around your intended use.

With the addition of these new trims and configurations, there’s no longer any excuse not to take a look at the Defender. If going off-road with your luxury SUV is your intent, the Defender definitely deserves a look.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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