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Land Rover Defender 2021 review: 110 P400 SE

The Landrover Defender is the perfect blend of old school retro with a fresh, modern luxury feel.

Welcome to the new version of the Land Rover Defender. It's the old off-roader, remodelled into an awesomely huge, luxury five- or seven-seat AWD SUV.

And it's enormous. Giant wheels. Huge doors. It's a beast of a car. Just by looking at it you know it was born to be far off-road, but how does it work as an every day car for a family? That's what I'm here for.

The Defender competes with cars like the Mercedes G-Class. This one is the five-seater 110 P400 SE which costs $102,736, before on-road costs and extras. I drove it for seven days, just around suburbia with my family of four, for this week's family review.

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✅ How does it look?

It's a sizeable car on the road and while it's very different to the last version of the Defender, it still keeps some of that heritage with a square-ish shape that has added a few modern curves.

It definitely looks more luxe than it used to. You can just tell it's a solid car with quality finishings and it has nailed the right mix of old school nostalgia with a fresh feel.

It wears it's hardware on its sleeve which looks very raw and authentic, and keeps the Defender's hardcore off-road reputation alive.

  • The launch of the Defender in 2020 did little to quell Land Rover’s decline in 2020. The launch of the Defender in 2020 did little to quell Land Rover’s decline in 2020.
  • It’s a sizeable car on the road. (image: Dean McCartney) It’s a sizeable car on the road. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • You can just tell it’s a solid car with quality finishings and it has nailed the right mix of old school nostalgia with a fresh feel. (image: Dean McCartney) You can just tell it’s a solid car with quality finishings and it has nailed the right mix of old school nostalgia with a fresh feel. (image: Dean McCartney)

So, things like the tyre on the outside of the boot was never going to disappear, there's a textured patch on the bonnet plus a big matte 110 print, exposed air vents on the side, plus all-black door handles, and a load of exposed giant bolts.

Inside is superb. You don't often get inside a car that's so clearly built to be driving through creeks and up mountains, that still looks this luxurious.

From the power adjustable, heated leather seats (which cost an extra $806), to the leather steering wheel and the digital dash in front of the steering wheel, it all looks great.

You don’t often get inside a car that’s so clearly built to be driving through creeks and up mountains, that still looks this luxurious. (image: Dean McCartney) You don’t often get inside a car that’s so clearly built to be driving through creeks and up mountains, that still looks this luxurious. (image: Dean McCartney)

Land Rover has again blended old with new and landed on a design that feels fresh and very premium, with a reassuring familiarity and nod to its roots. It's clever styling and will win a lot of fans. The panoramic glass sliding roof will set you back an extra $4370

The centre console is well designed with a matte black finish, keeping the tone of the car to fit its rugged reputation. It's got large air con controls which also looks good and it's all neatly packaged and streamlined. It feels fantastic to sit in on the road.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The front seats are power adjustable, though there is no keyless entry. The boot also opens from the side which is not the easiest thing to use.

Though it's good if you're going away and have lots to store in the boot, it's not so practical if you've reversed into a park at Westfield and need to open the boot. You need space behind you to open it.

This car does fit into a Westfield car park though, it's not too high.

  • I’m testing the five-seater model so the boot is big (972 litres). (image: Dean McCartney) I’m testing the five-seater model so the boot is big (972 litres). (image: Dean McCartney)
  • I could easily fit in a double pram or three suitcases and it will be great to take away on a long road trip, too. (image: Dean McCartney) I could easily fit in a double pram or three suitcases and it will be great to take away on a long road trip, too. (image: Dean McCartney)

It comes with a number of USB ports throughout the car so you won't have trouble charging devices and there is both USB-A and USB-C connectivity in the front.

There are two cupholders in the front and a wireless charger, with a second lower shelf for bigger storage, but things just fall around if you put anything big on there. It would be good to have used that space for more accessible storage closer to hand's reach.

The centre console is a good size and as with everything in here, storage has that rugged rubber finish to make things non slip and also add to the car's tough guy image. There are bottle holders in the doors, too.

✅ What's the tech like?

There's a 10-inch touchscreen which is not huge compared to other luxury SUVs but for a serious off roader, the size and the high resolution of the screen is fantastic.

There's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity so you can navigate using your maps system and have a handsfree multimedia experience.

✅ How spacious is it?

It's enormous. I feel like I'm in a comfortable lounge seat that's super high off the road and has loads of leg and head space for every size passenger.

My kids, aged seven and nine, fit so easily in the back, though they did mention there is no helpful step to help them get up, just another design feature that reiterates the Land Rover Defender is tough and expects you to be, too.

  • I’m testing the five-seater model so the boot is big (972 litres). (image: Dean McCartney) I’m testing the five-seater model so the boot is big (972 litres). (image: Dean McCartney)
  • I could easily fit in a double pram or three suitcases and it will be great to take away on a long road trip, too. (image: Dean McCartney) I could easily fit in a double pram or three suitcases and it will be great to take away on a long road trip, too. (image: Dean McCartney)

Space in the back is huge, I could comfortably sit back there for days without getting cramped and taller adults and children won't have any issues, either. You can easily fit a third child seat in the middle, too. I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule.

The boot is extra large. The Defender also comes with two seats in the boot to make it a seven-seater, but I'm testing the five-seater model so the boot is big (972 litres).

I could easily fit in a double pram or three suitcases and it will be great to take away on a long road trip, too.

✅ How does it drive?

Driving in the Defender is really smooth and so quiet because it's a petrol engine - there are diesel versions as well if that's what you're after.

Land Rover has managed to make a large car handle like a much smaller car, with things like the turning circle and the precision of the handling.

You can still feel the bulky width of the car so it never feels small. It is a wide car and you feel that on the road, especially if you're living in a suburb with narrow streets.

All Defender models are four-wheel drive so you have extra traction on loose or wet surfaces. (image: Dean McCartney) All Defender models are four-wheel drive so you have extra traction on loose or wet surfaces. (image: Dean McCartney)

This is the P400 model so it has a 3.0L, six-cylinder engine, and it's got lots of power from the second you press your foot on the accelerator - there's barely any heavy lag.

It whizzes up hills and cruises along highways beautifully. If anything, you have to worry about it going too fast, too easily.

All Defender models are four-wheel drive so you have extra traction on loose or wet surfaces like gravel, dirt and snow. It's got a number of different driving modes so you can adjust when you change surfaces.

This is the P400 model so it has a 3.0L, six-cylinder engine. (image: Dean McCartney) This is the P400 model so it has a 3.0L, six-cylinder engine. (image: Dean McCartney)

Fuel consumption is a claimed 9.9L/100km and I averaged 12.5 this week, driving mostly in suburbia, but also on some highways.

Parking is a bit tricky, purely because of the size, but the car handles so well and the steering turns easily and is very precise, which you especially notice while reverse parking.

It actually does what you think it's going to, where a lot of large cars feel very large to park and don't handle as well, but the Defender slides into place swiftly with precision. It's also thanks to the hi-res reverse parking camera with parking guides and it has a 360-degree view as well.

Land Rover has managed to make a large car handle like a much smaller car. (image: Dean McCartney) Land Rover has managed to make a large car handle like a much smaller car. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How safe is it?

For safety, besides feeling rock solid, you'll get Auto Emergency Braking (AEB), lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and this model has the 'Driver Assist Pack' which includes adaptive cruise control and 'Rear Collision Monitor.'

ISOFIX points are on the two outer back seat positions, and you'll get three top tether points for kids car seats. There are six airbags including side curtain airbags that extend to the back row.

The Defender has not yet been ANCAP tested at time of writing but it's expected to get the full five stars.

It definitely looks more luxe than it used to. (image: Dean McCartney) It definitely looks more luxe than it used to. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Landrover Defender 110 P400 SE costs $102,736 before on road costs and extras. Extras on this particular test car included things like the sunroof ($4370) and three row climate control ($2405) and came to $20,450 so the total cost of the car is $123,186.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 9.9L/100km and I averaged 12.5 this week, driving mostly in suburbia, but also on some highways.

It's covered by  a five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty, and five-year service plan ($1950 for diesel engines; $2650 for petrols), which includes five years roadside assist.

While it’s very different to the last version of the Defender, it still keeps some of that heritage with a square-ish shape that has added a few modern curves. (image: Dean McCartney) While it’s very different to the last version of the Defender, it still keeps some of that heritage with a square-ish shape that has added a few modern curves. (image: Dean McCartney)


The Wrap

What a week in this car! I got comments from pretty much any bloke who saw it so it's obviously a head turner. It fit my family of four very well and just makes you want to go on a holiday in it. It drives beautifully and looks luxe while still keeping that unique retro Defender feel. This test car was fitted with an extra $20,000 worth of extras but I think you're expecting that if you've come this far.

I gave it a family rating of 8.4 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they loved having such a giant car.

Likes

Exterior and interior design
Excellent handling
Loads of space

Dislikes

Fuel consumption
It's big
Side opening boot

Scores

Nedahl:

The Kids:

$98,290

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.