The 2022 Land Rover Defender might look reminiscent of the 1950s original, but in reality it is a completely modern, high-tech off-roader with unique curb appeal. A trio of engines is offered—a turbocharged four-cylinder, a turbo-and-supercharged six-cylinder, and a supercharged V-8—and all come standard with four-wheel drive. The Defender can be had in two-door 90 and four-door 110 body styles, and advanced-duty off-roading equipment is available on all models, including an adjustable air suspension and locking differentials. There aren’t many SUVs that are as capable as the Defender, and they mostly come from Land Rover’s lineup. Some may consider the Jeep Wrangler a cheaper alternative, but the Defender has it beat when it comes to on-road refinement and available luxury appointments.
What’s New for 2022?
Land Rover is introducing a V-8 engine into the Defender lineup for 2022: the 518-hp Supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that’s found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. The V-8 will be available on both the two-door 90 and four-door 110 models; a high-end Carpathian Edition model will also sport the V-8 engine. The package enhances the Defender with Carpathian Gray exterior paint with a black-painted roof and tailgate, black-painted tow hooks, Xenon Blue brake calipers, and special Carpathian Edition badging. A new XS trim is available on 110 models and bundles a host of luxury and convenience features together including heated-and-cooled front seats, leather-and-cloth upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, an adjustable air suspension, and adaptive cruise control. Land Rover is also introducing a new, optional 11.4-inch infotainment display this year and will offer even more accessory exterior packages for customization. An even larger, three-row Defender 130 model is on the horizon, but we aren’t sure when that SUV may debut.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The 2022 Defender is powered by a standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Of course, every model features four-wheel drive and locking differentials for navigating treacherous terrain. The Defender is also available with a 3.0-liter inline-six which utilizes an electric supercharger and 48-volt hybrid system. Buyers looking for additional performance can opt for the 518-hp supercharged V-8, which Land Rover claims can hustle the Defender to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. Unlike its predecessor, the Defender has a unibody construction versus a body-on-frame setup, and it replaces the old solid axles with a fully independent suspension. The base suspension utilizes coil springs, but it can be upgraded with an air springs that enable adjustable ride height. The Defender has 11.5 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford through 35 inches of water, which exceeds both the Jeep Wrangler‘s maximum clearance and its wading ability.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA’s fuel economy ratings for the various Defender models are fairly similar regardless of what’s under the hood. The 90 model with the four-cylinder receives ratings of 18 mpg city and 21 highway. Step up to the six-cylinder engine and the 90’s city rating drops to 17 mpg but the highway rating goes up to 22.The 110 model with the six-cylinder engine has the same estimates as the six-cylinder 90. The EPA hasn’t yet released fuel economy numbers for the new V-8 variant. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, a Defender 110X with the optional six-cylinder powertrain delivered a disappointing 18 mpg. For more information about the Defender’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Defender’s dashboard sports a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that runs a new interface for Land Rover called Pivi Pro; a larger 11.4-inch display is optional. Compared to the rest of the Land Rover lineup’s Touch Pro Duo interface, the Defender’s system relies on a single touchscreen instead of two, offers quicker response times, and can handle over-the-air software updates for future releases. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is an in-dash navigation system, a six-speaker stereo, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Both 10- and 14-speaker Meridian stereo systems are optional features and buyers of higher-end Defenders receive a digital gauge cluster and a head-up display.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Among the slew of available driver-assistance technology, the Rover has several unique systems tailored for off-roading and towing. For more information about the Defender’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control