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?

  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.
  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.