The 2022 Land Rover Defender might look reminiscent of the 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. The Trophy Edition model also joins the lineup this year, but only 220 examples will be available and they all come with a complimentary entry to a Land Rover off-road competition in North Carolina that will take place in fall 2021.
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. 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 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.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Defender’s cabin walks the line between premium and utilitarian, with just enough design cues from the rest of the Land Rover lineup to make those familiar with the brand feel right at home. Exposed rivets in the door panels add a particularly rugged appearance, and a magnesium beam that runs the full width of the dashboard isn’t entirely cosmetic—it’s also structural. Under the infotainment display, a trapezoidal extension of the dashboard provides a place for buttons and switches for the climate-control system and driving mode. The shift lever and ignition switch are also mounted on this center stack rather than the center console. In some models, the center console can be flipped back to create a jump seat between the driver and passenger, similar to a three-across bench in some full-size pickup trucks. Cargo space behind the rear seat is somewhat limited, but on par with rival off-roaders such as the Jeep Wrangler; the rear seats can be folded to open up a much larger cargo bay, but those seeking to haul people and gear may want to look at the larger Land Rover Discovery or invest in a roof-top cargo carrier.