2021 Volvo XC90 vs 2021 Land Rover Defender

2021 Volvo XC90
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Land Rover Defender
2021 Land Rover Defender
$46,100MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Land Rover Defender
$46,100MSRP
Overview
Overview
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CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the 2021 Volvo XC90 received an overall rating of 7.7 out of 10, while the 2021 Land Rover Defender scored 8 out of 10. While both vehicles have their unique strengths, the Land Rover Defender edges out with its exceptional blend of rugged off-road capabilities and modern technological enhancements. Therefore, for consumers seeking an all-encompassing SUV experience, the 2021 Land Rover Defender emerges as the recommended choice.

Overview

MSRP

$49,000

MSRP

$46,100

Average price

$40,853

Average price

$55,642

Listings

1488

Listings

185
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

7.7 out of 10

Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Premium interior materials
  • Great safety ratings
Cons
  • Cramped third row
  • Sluggish performance
  • No USB-C ports
Pros
  • Excellent off-road capability
  • Stylish design
  • Spacious
Cons
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor handling
  • Interior materials feel cheap

2021 Volvo XC90 Reviews Summary

Volvo may be known for sensible station wagons, but the XC90 SUV is the Swedish automaker’s de facto flagship. The current generation debuted design features, technology, and powertrains that have since found their way into most other Volvo models. Several years into the current-generation model’s lifecycle, the XC90 is no longer a trendsetter, but remains Volvo’s contender in the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment, with the automaker’s typical emphasis on safety features.

The current-generation XC90 launched for the 2016 model year, so most competitors—including the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class—have been updated or redesigned since then. The Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator didn’t even exist when this generation of XC90 launched.

A redesigned version is expected to arrive soon, so changes to the 2021 XC90 are minimal. All 2021 Volvo models are now limited to 112 mph for safety reasons and get Care Key, which lets owners limit the top speed before loaning the car out to a friend or family member. The XC90 also gets a handful of newly standard tech features, and some small cosmetic changes.

Volvo offers the XC90 in three trim levels—Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription—with three powertrain options: T5 and T6 gasoline engines, and the T8 plug-in hybrid. Our test car was a range-topping T8 Recharge Inscription, combining the top Inscription trim level with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which has the highest output of the three.

2021 Land Rover Defender Reviews Summary

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is a midsize SUV with four-wheel drive (4WD), available in short-wheelbase three-door (Defender 90) and long-wheelbase five-door (Defender 110) forms. After a long absence, the Defender returned to the United States for the 2020 model year, transformed into a thoroughly modern, 21st-century SUV. While it was gone, its original Land Rover Series I, II, III, 90, 110, and Defender ancestors became treasured classics. The new Defender carries its legacy forward, with the quest to bring new followers to its path.
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Popular Features & Specs

Engine

2.0L 250 hp I4

Engine

2.0L 296 hp I4

Drive Train

FWD

Drive Train

AWD

Seating Capacity

7

Seating Capacity

6

Horsepower

250 hp @ 5500 rpm

Horsepower

296 hp @ 4000 rpm

MPG City

21

MPG City

18

MPG Highway

30

MPG Highway

21
2021 Volvo XC90
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Land Rover Defender
2021 Land Rover Defender
$46,100MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Land Rover Defender
$46,100MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the 2021 Volvo XC90 received an overall rating of 7.7 out of 10, while the 2021 Land Rover Defender scored 8 out of 10. While both vehicles have their unique strengths, the Land Rover Defender edges out with its exceptional blend of rugged off-road capabilities and modern technological enhancements. Therefore, for consumers seeking an all-encompassing SUV experience, the 2021 Land Rover Defender emerges as the recommended choice.

Overview
MSRP
$49,000
$46,100
Average price
$40,853
$55,642
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.7
4.7
Expert reviews

7.7 out of 10

Read full review

8.0 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Premium interior materials
  • Great safety ratings
Cons
  • Cramped third row
  • Sluggish performance
  • No USB-C ports
Pros
  • Excellent off-road capability
  • Stylish design
  • Spacious
Cons
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor handling
  • Interior materials feel cheap
Summary

Volvo may be known for sensible station wagons, but the XC90 SUV is the Swedish automaker’s de facto flagship. The current generation debuted design features, technology, and powertrains that have since found their way into most other Volvo models. Several years into the current-generation model’s lifecycle, the XC90 is no longer a trendsetter, but remains Volvo’s contender in the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment, with the automaker’s typical emphasis on safety features.

The current-generation XC90 launched for the 2016 model year, so most competitors—including the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class—have been updated or redesigned since then. The Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator didn’t even exist when this generation of XC90 launched.

A redesigned version is expected to arrive soon, so changes to the 2021 XC90 are minimal. All 2021 Volvo models are now limited to 112 mph for safety reasons and get Care Key, which lets owners limit the top speed before loaning the car out to a friend or family member. The XC90 also gets a handful of newly standard tech features, and some small cosmetic changes.

Volvo offers the XC90 in three trim levels—Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription—with three powertrain options: T5 and T6 gasoline engines, and the T8 plug-in hybrid. Our test car was a range-topping T8 Recharge Inscription, combining the top Inscription trim level with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which has the highest output of the three.

The 2021 Land Rover Defender is a midsize SUV with four-wheel drive (4WD), available in short-wheelbase three-door (Defender 90) and long-wheelbase five-door (Defender 110) forms. After a long absence, the Defender returned to the United States for the 2020 model year, transformed into a thoroughly modern, 21st-century SUV. While it was gone, its original Land Rover Series I, II, III, 90, 110, and Defender ancestors became treasured classics. The new Defender carries its legacy forward, with the quest to bring new followers to its path.
Video
No video found
No video found
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.0L 250 hp I4
2.0L 296 hp I4
Drive Train
FWD
AWD
Seating Capacity
7
6
Horsepower
250 hp @ 5500 rpm
296 hp @ 4000 rpm
MPG City
21
18
MPG Highway
30
21
Look and feel
2021 Volvo XC90
9/10
2021 Land Rover Defender
8/10
The 2021 Volvo XC90 managed to reshape Volvo’s conservative image into something more modern while retaining its quintessential Scandinavian touches. When it debuted as a 2016 model, the current-generation XC90 displayed a more character-rich design. This refresh included the traditional boxy profile and a blunt front end adorned with a rectangular grille, yet it was the details that set it apart. Softer lines replaced the stark angles of old, and unpainted plastic gave way to classier chrome trims. The LED headlights with "Thor's Hammer" daytime running lights added a distinct touch that seamlessly integrated with the overall design. Our Inscription test model, replete with extra chrome trim and 21-inch alloy wheels, exuded a flashy yet sophisticated aura. Meanwhile, the R-Design trim aimed for sportiness and the base Momentum trim maintained a simplistic elegance. Meanwhile, the 2021 Land Rover Defender aimed to echo its ancestral roots while propelling its appeal into the modern age. The original Defender's iconic silhouette, distinguished by elements such as round headlamps, diamond plates, and box-shaped cabins with tall rooflines, earned a timeless cool factor. The new Defender retained this essence but introduced contemporary features such as half-round LED headlights that lent a serious demeanor, and a grille that appeared almost structural. The flat-topped fenders and composite cladding with a diamond-plate pattern paid homage to its heritage. The spare tire on the side-hinged tailgate and short overhangs suggested relentless off-road capability. From an in-person perspective, the Defender's fit and finish shone through, further adorned with bold yet tasteful nameplates. Inside the XC90, “Swedish minimalism” took the center stage, presenting an interior that relied on thoughtfully arranged, quality materials rather than excessive flash. The matte-finish wood trims added a natural allure, deviating from the overly lacquered trims in most luxury cars. Uniquely, there was an option for wool upholstery along with Nappa leather. Even a high-end Orrefors crystal shifter featured in our test car. Everything meshed well into a restrained yet sophisticated cabin. The Defender’s interior, by contrast, adhered to a theme of exposed structure, with the dash bracketed between two horizontal beams and door panels fastened with visible bolts. The controls and steering wheel exuded ruggedness. The seats, upholstered in high-quality leather, communicated both robustness and luxury. High-tech elements like a digital instrument panel and centered touchscreen interface enhanced the overall feel without losing authenticity.
Performance
2021 Volvo XC90
7/10
2021 Land Rover Defender
8/10
The 2021 Volvo XC90 offered three powertrains, all centered around a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base T5 variant produced 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged engine. Opting for the T6 variant meant both turbocharging and supercharging the engine, resulting in 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain (also marketed as Recharge) added electric assist, generating a combined output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft. Despite the 400 hp, the small engine had certain limitations. It struggled to accelerate swiftly from stops relying solely on electric power, necessitating frequent assistance from the gasoline engine. Volvo included three drive modes—Pure (all-electric), Hybrid, and Power—but Pure mode was only practical for low-speed, gentle acceleration. The XC90 excelled in traditional luxury areas: ride quality was exemplary, body roll was well-managed, and the cabin remained impressively quiet. Most XC90 models boasted a 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity, slightly eclipsed by competitors like the Lincoln Aviator. Conversely, the 2021 Land Rover Defender came with two primary powertrains in the U.S. The base was a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine producing 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder mild-hybrid setup, generating 395 hp and 406 lb-ft, was also available. An optional 5.0-liter V8 with 518 hp was announced for 2022. The Defender’s eight-speed automatic transmission and full-time 4WD system with low range and Terrain Response (with optional Terrain Response 2) equipped it for varied conditions. Its substantial off-road capabilities included a 30.1-degree approach angle, a 37.6-degree departure angle, and a wading depth of 35.4 inches. On-road, the Defender’s acceleration was notable, with the 2.0-liter variant hitting 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds, and the 3.0-liter variant in 5.8 seconds. In terms of towing, the Defender could haul up to 8,200 pounds with a payload capacity of over 1,700 pounds. Our test vehicle’s 3.0-liter powertrain delivered a balanced driving experience, making it comfortable on highways and agile in city scenarios. Although we didn’t put it through rigorous off-roading tests, the Defender’s unibody construction (shared with Range Rover models) and air suspension suggested impressive off-road and on-road versatility.
Form and function
2021 Volvo XC90
6/10
2021 Land Rover Defender
9/10
The 2021 Volvo XC90 accommodated both six-seat and seven-seat configurations, thanks to the option of second-row captain’s chairs or bench seating. Compared to rivals, its third-row space was average, though somewhat tight for adults. The optional power moonroof and upright roof profile lent a spacious feeling, complemented by standard four-zone climate control with an added filtration system. In our Inscription test car, the front seats featured extensive adjustability, heating, ventilation, and massage functions. However, the lack of a power-adjustable steering wheel was a notable omission. Cargo space in the XC90 was 11.2 cubic feet with all seats in place, extending to 34.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, and 64.1 cubic feet with both rows folded, putting it near the bottom of the segment. In contrast, the 2021 Land Rover Defender boasted a seating configuration that could include a jump seat up front for three-across seating, adding versatility. The Defender 110 offered 34-34.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second row, with a three-door variant (90) offering 15.6 cubic feet behind its second row. Maximum cargo space behind the first row in the 110 model was 78.8 cubic feet, significantly larger than the XC90’s equivalent. This, combined with its independent suspension and four-wheel multi-link suspension, made for ample in-cabin comfort and enhanced versatility in seating arrangements.
Technology
2021 Volvo XC90
8/10
2021 Land Rover Defender
8/10
Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system in the 2021 XC90 exemplified the “less is more” philosophy. Equipped with a 9-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, and a built-in WiFi hotspot, it felt comprehensive without being overwhelming. The interface allowed for intuitive interaction, although the text size and typeface created minor readability issues while driving. An optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system uplifted the auditory experience, though the wireless charging pad added for the 2021 model year struggled with phone compatibility. The 2021 Land Rover Defender, leveraging the Electronic Vehicle Architecture 2.0, facilitated over-the-air updates for 14 individual modules, akin to smartphone updates. Its Pivi Pro infotainment system featured a 10-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto as standard. The Defender outclassed the XC90 with its “transparent hood” view and 3D surround-camera system, especially useful for off-roading. The audio system could be upgraded to a Meridian system with up to 14 speakers and 700 watts of amplification. The innovative ClearSight rear-view mirror transformed the conventional mirror into a camera view, ensuring superior rear visibility even with a full load.
Safety
2021 Volvo XC90
9/10
2021 Land Rover Defender
7/10
The 2021 Volvo XC90 embodied Volvo’s safety legacy and obtained the highest “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for non-hybrid models. It secured top scores in crash tests and front-crash prevention. Standard safety features were abundant, from lane-keep assist to traffic sign recognition and blind-spot monitoring. Volvo’s Pilot Assist, combining adaptive cruise control with automated lane centering, delivered a smooth and responsive driving aid, though it needed constant driver attention. The 2021 Land Rover Defender, though unrated by NHTSA and IIHS, featured a comprehensive suite of standard safety components. It offered front airbags, tire pressure monitoring, a perimeter alarm, and dynamic stability control. Advanced inclusions such as blind spot assist, lane-keep assist, emergency braking, and a 360-degree parking aid suggested thorough attention to passenger safety. Subjected to rigorous durability testing, the Defender proved capable of withstanding extreme conditions and stressful pulls, upholding a reputation for building resilient vehicles.
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By: CarGurus + AI

This car comparison has been created with using generative AI. It is based entirely on CarGurus expert review content, ratings and data, and leverages our extensive library of hands-on product tests to create thousands of unique comparisons to help shoppers choose the right car.