Recently I took a look at the 2021 Land Rover Defender P90, an iconic SUV that we have not seen in the United States since 1997. The P90 is the 2-door version, but it comes in a 4-door as well called the 110. The P90 is 17-inches shorter than the 110 4-door version.
The old Defender was not known for luxury like the Land Rovers we know today. Instead, Defender was a serious off-roader with a flair for minimalism. The new version shares some of that theme, but wrapped in a more modern exterior that looks terrific.
Outside the Defender is square and boxy like the original, but with beautiful 20” wheels, circle headlights, and large vertical taillights with two small square lights-on each side that work in conjunction with the regular rear lights. This is a throwback to the original Defender. The tall roof has safari windows at the top.
There are many ways to configure a new Defender. The Defender actually debuted in 2020 only as a 4-door. This P90 is new to the United States for 2021. It comes in four trim levels. My review vehicle is the First Edition, the model next to the top-of-the-line Defender X.
This Defender P90 has the optional 3-liter 6-cylinder turbocharged engine that is putting out a strong 395-horses and 406-pound feet of torque. It has an 8-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine is a 4-cylinder turbo that puts out 300-horses. As always, Rovers only come with all-wheel drive, and they have one of the best systems on the road.
Moving to the interior, it is very cleanly laid out but not the luxury interior I’ve come to know as a long-time Range Rover owner myself for many years. The screws that hold the door panels and the center console are exposed and I have to say, it is cool.
Just about everything you touch is rubber, and again this works for me. It looks nice, is soft to the touch, and it will be easy to clean. Center dash is a 10” screen that operates the sound system, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the off-road capabilities. I am proud to report that the screen is much faster than I’ve experienced from Rover in recent years and is relatively simple to operate.
The gearshift handle is to the left of the screen and under the screen are all the air conditioning controls, the heated seats, height control, and off-road settings. The 12” digital gauge cluster is also simplistic and not overly colorful, but it is configurable from the steering wheel and it is easy to read.
One interesting thing is there is a huge fold down center console on the front seat. When folded up, you have a front bench seat to sit three people. When folded down, there are cup holders for two front seat passengers. Just know that when the console is folded up, it completely blocks the view from the rearview mirror. That’s OK actually because of the Clearview rearview mirror I tell you about a little later.
The backseat leg and head room are good, and cargo area is also good once you open the rear tailgate to the side. It opens from the left side as you face the rear, which hits me as odd since that is the traffic side if you are loading things. A full-sized spare and matching wheel is mounted on the tailgate, but that doesn’t cause any problems except for visibility. Again, the Clearview mirror solves this.
Entry to the backseat is fairly simple due to buttons built into the seats that slide the seat forward and backward electronically. Backseat passengers can control their own temperature and have a slew of power ports and USB ports, along with rear air vents. If you look up, the safari windows give an open and airy feeling, and if you happen to go on safari, you can look up to see the giraffes.
My tester came well equipped with partial leather seating, power adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, 14-way power seats on both side, keyless entry system, navigation system, a tow hitch, and a lot more.
OK, now to this cool rearview mirror called Clearlight rearview mirror, and it is needed in this SUV. With the regular mirror, all you see when you look at it are head rests and the spare tire that is mounted on the back door. The Clearlight mirror camera is mounted on the antenna on the roof and when activated, you get a crystal-clear view of the road behind you that is wide angle.
On the safety front, you get emergency braking 360-degree surround view camera, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and rear cross traffic alert.
Ride and Drive
The Defender P90 drives fantastic, and it feels substantial and heavy, which it is. It weighs in at just over 5,000 pounds. There is no turbo lag, and the 3-liter V6 has very good acceleration. The ride quality is great thanks to the terrific air suspension system that Rover is known for.
Fuel economy is rated at 17 in town, 22 on the highway, and overall 19. MSRP as this one is equipped is $66,475 and for what you get and how capable it is, I find that price to be fair.
I love the looks, the driving characteristics, the interior quietness, and the retro looks, although for me, I’d go with the 110 4-door model.
- What I Liked Most: Pretty much everything and the price is great.
- What I would change: The rear door should open the other way.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 17 in town/12 highway/17 overall.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,300 miles.
- Weight: 5,015 curb weight pounds. 6,545 GVWR.
- Spare Tire: Matching tire and wheel on the tailgate.
- Length-Width-Height: 180.4” long/79.1” wide/77.5” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 23.4 gallons with the fuel filler on the passenger side.
- Towing Capacity: 7,716 pounds.
- Official Color: Pangea Green.
- 2021 Land Rover Defender P90 First Edition in a few words: A fun to drive, extremely capable SUV.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Nitra, Slovokia.
- Manufacturer's website: Land Rover