Land Rover Defender of the Faith

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai
land rover defender of the faith

The Land Rover Defender, absent from the U.S. for a quarter of a century, has made its return in both a 90 and 110 super size. Available from 296 HP mild to 518 HP wild, there’s one available in just about any configuration you’d want.

Looking at Land Rover’s current availabilities, their locator tells us that despite the just-right size of the 90, you couldn’t get a ’21 model in anything but a 110. Should my fortunes or luck change, the 2022 Defender 90 most appealing to me would be the 90 V8, that .44 magnum of an SUV closest to what I’d consider the classic Defender. Perhaps it’s the 5.0-liter, supercharged V8, with its 518 HP and 461 lb-ft. of torque that tempts me, or its the shape of the 90 that’s vaguely reminiscent of the 1979 Stage 1 Defender V8 that captivated me upon its arrival at Four Wheeler magazine, where I sold ad space.

Maybe it was riding in the Defender 90 that the late Eddie Van Halen drove everywhere, despite having more vehicles than his nearly full-time mechanic, Bill Smulo, could handle. With plenty of room for guitar cases and small amplifiers, it was nearly ideal. The 3.9-liter V8 that came in the Defender of the early ’90s was no comparison to the blown big block in Eddie’s ’55 Chevy, but the Vortech supercharger that Smulo installed on the Defender did make it a decent runner up Mulholland Drive.

Zero-60 in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 149 MPH, those are the numbers reported by Land Rover for the Defender 90 V8. Yes, there are other models available, such as the X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, and top-of-the range Carpathian Edition, and reasons why the MSRP will swell to beyond what it costs to import and restore an original Defender. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Land Rover noted all the companies in the U.S. that are scouring the earth for Defenders that can be brought into the country, and once restored or modified, resell them for six-figure sums.

The height of personalization, different accessory packs as Land Rover refers to them, are supposedly purchased by a great many Land Rover customers. Having not been among that rare breed, I should have to take Land Rover’s word for it and assume they are correct in their assertion as to how many packs are sold to their well-heeled clientele. You should also know that the touchscreen has grown by over 60 percent, from a 10-inch display to an optional 11.4-inches, with Pivi Pro infotainment availability. We are now all well aware that watching something on the screen, or attending to it in any way while driving, is an absolute no-no.

Suspension tuning with revised spring and damper rates, and a new electronic active rear differential to deliver greater agility and handling, the Defender V8 is said to have heightened body control. A Defender V8-exclusive Terrain Response system will enhance the performance of the Defender, and provide a new level of driver appeal, according to Land Rover. What is undeniable is the look of the 22-inch alloy wheels in a dark gray powder coat, Continental Cross Contact tires, and the Xenon Blue-painted brake calipers. Yeah, we like the new 2022 Defender V8.

[Images: Land Rover]

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2 of 12 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Feb 26, 2021

    I do believe each and every sentence had a comma in it. Some of the sentences may have had two or three comments. I know TTAC never proofreads their articles but at least run them through Grammarly.

  • RHD RHD on Feb 27, 2021

    It occurred to me that a vehicle called the "Defender" should have on-board weapons of some kind, Bond style. Otherwise, how could it defend anything?

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.