2023 Land Rover Defender 130 Tested: It’s a Stretch

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The classic Land Rover Defender comes in all sizes and shapes, so it’s true to tradition that the new one should too. After its debut, the reborn Defender emerged as a four-door 110 and two-door 90 flagship—one that’s shorter in length but bigger in charm. The Defender 110 does offer additional rear bench options tucked into the cargo area, though they’re all pretty much useless. To create the original three-row seating package required a third body styling, and that’s what we have now with the taffy-stretched Defender 130.

We’ve praised the current Defender’s design, which manages the uneasy feat of looking wholly modern yet strikingly similar to the off-road icons that first appeared in the 1940s. That sentiment holds true for both the Defender 90 and 110, but the 130’s extra length — 13.3 inches longer than the 110, 30.5 inches longer than the 90 — throws off the proportions. (To some of us, it’s reminiscent of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer L.) With its long rear overhang, it’s almost conceivable that opening the side-hinged cargo door and dropping a particularly heavy item onto the rear cargo floor could result in the Land Rover giving out a wheelie.

2023 land rover defender 130 first edition

Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

Of course, that’s never going to happen, partly because the Defender itself is so heavy. At 5931 pounds, our Defender 130 is 158 pounds heavier than the last Defender 110 to pass our scales.

The 130’s engine offerings were trimmed from the bottom and top, meaning no turbo four and no V-8. Therefore, motivating this Land Rover mass is one of two 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines: the P300 296 hp and the P400 395 hp. In most cases, it will be the P400, which is in all but the lowest trim levels.

The turbo-boosted inline-six is ​​also equipped with an electrically driven supercharger, which effectively combats turbo lag. There is also a 48 volt motor generator; even if present, restarting from an automatic stop-start system can be quicker. The long-travel accelerator seems designed for careful modulation in tricky off-road situations, with a polite tip-in. Push past that, however, and this increased six proves to be smooth and muscular. Teamed with ZF’s excellent eight-speed automatic, it overlooked the 130’s avoirdupois and proved more than up to the task of pushing our heavily laden example. Whereas the 2020 Defender 110 SE (with the same engine) takes 6.3 seconds to get to 60 and 14.8 seconds to cover the quarter mile, this 130 charges to 60 mph in 6.2 clicks and shaves 0.2 seconds off the time quarter mile. It is also rated to attract £8200.

Predictably, the EPA estimates are dismal at 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway (with either engine), and in our 75 mph fuel economy test, the Landie XL earned a gallon of premium every 19 miles. That sounds bad, but it’s actually 1 mpg better than our results with the Defender 110X with the same powertrain. It’s worth noting that the 110X comes with the Explorer package which includes a roof rack, snorkel and side-mounted gear carrier.

HIGH: Transports the entire crew, sophisticated attitude on the road, ready to cross Namibia.

We didn’t have a chance to drive the Defender 130 in its natural environment—climbing the mountains of Nepal, for example, or traversing the jungles of Borneo. Those who go on extreme trips will want to watch their commensurate extra-long steed departure angle—28.5 degrees versus 40.0 degrees for the 110—lest the larger Rover drag his beefy booty over the rocks. Otherwise, however, the 130 should have the same off-road capabilities as its sibling. That is, a lot, when we find ourselves driving a Defender 110 through the dirt on Michigan’s Drummond Island. The standard all-wheel drive system includes a two-speed transfer case, and a lockable center differential. A locking rear differential is available as part of the $1500 Off-Road package. Ground clearance is 11.4 inches, and like its siblings, the 130 can wade through 35.4 inches of water.

2023 land rover defender 130 first edition

Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

The Defender 130 gets air springs, along with Land Rover’s Adaptive Dynamics, as standard. The advanced suspension keeps the ride from shaking, and effectively isolates passengers from broken pavement. The steering is very weighty and precise for a serious off-roader, but in cornering the Defender 130 feels every inch of its size and will slow you down heavily for corners. On the track, the 130 recorded a modest 0.71 g of lateral grip.

The Defender’s brake-by-wire system, which on the 2020 model we found difficult to modulate, has no complaints this time around. The setup also proved highly effective in panic stopping, dropping the Land Rover from 70 mph in just 167 feet.

LOW: Awkward profile, cargo space disappears with eight passengers, intense thirst for unleaded.

None of the above is a major departure from other Defender models. The big change here is the interior package: the 130 is clearly designed to accommodate three rows of seating. The rear bench has ample headroom and an additional 11.2 inches of legroom for a teenager or even an average-sized adult, though legroom is tight. Split 40/20/40 or optionally 60/40, the seats have belts for three, which seems optimistic unless they’re all waifish. The Land Rover includes a USB-C port and even optional heated seats back there, plus an additional sunroof, so it doesn’t feel like the wheel. One other change from the lesser Defenders is that the 130 doesn’t offer the unusual three-person front bench seat (which would push the total capacity to nine), nor can second-row captain seats be had.

Even with the extra long body, with all seats deployed, passengers would not be able to carry much more than a toothbrush and a change of underwear. Behind the very back seats there is only room for three carry-on bags. In max cargo mode, there is 81 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, which is only two cubic feet more than in the three-row Defender 110. That’s about as much as you’d find in a Nissan Pathfinder but less than in some other midsizes, such as the Hyundai Palisade, Chevrolet Traverse, or Volkswagen Atlas, and with the seats folded down, the Land Rover’s cargo floor is uneven.

As in its less long stablemate, the Defender’s interior is very practical, featuring grab handles, a durable-looking finish, and plenty of storage space. But it manages to avoid feeling basic thanks to its generously padded surface. It is clearly different from other high-end SUVs.

2023 land rover defender 130 first edition

Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

It’s very different from describing the Defender as a whole, and the price is certainly high end. The 130 skips the steel-wheel stripper trim levels and starts with the S, for $69,475, which is a $9700 premium over the 110 S. From there, it moves up through the SE, X-Dynamic SE, and First Edition trim levels to coming out with the X, which sells for $101,375 before options. Beyond spending extra, there aren’t many compromises to be made here. With the 130, Land Rover succeeded in expanding the Defender in size and capabilities.



2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition
Vehicle Type: front engine, 4 wheel drive, 8 passenger carriage, 4 doors

Basic/As Tested: $86,175/$92,075
Options: 22-inch Gloss Sparkle Silver Wheels, $2000; Towing Pack 2 (towing hitch receiver, advanced tow assist, configurable terrain response), $1850; Carpathian Gray paint, $1050; Cold Climate Package (heated windshield, washer jets and steering wheel, headlight washers), $500; 60/40-split, heated third-row seats, $300; full size reserve, $200

supercharged, turbocharged, and DOHC 24-valve inline-6 ​​intercooler, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183 inches32996 cm3
Power: 395 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

8 speed automatic

Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 14.3-inch vented disc/13.8-inch vented disc
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX
HL275/45R-22 115W M+S LR

Wheelbase: 119.0 in
Length: 210.9 inches
Width: 79.1 inches
Height: 77.6 inches
Cargo Volume, Rear F/M/R: 81/44/14 ft3
Restraint Weight: 5931 lb

60 mph: 6.2 seconds
1/4-Mile: 14.6 sec @ 97 mph
100 mph: 15.7 seconds
130 mph: 33.6 seconds

The above result removes 1 foot launch from 0.4 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.9 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.0 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
Top Speed ​​(gov ltd): 131 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 167 ft
Road hold, 300 ft Skidpad: 0.71 g

Driving on the Highway 75 mph: 19 mpg
75 mph Highway Range: 370 miles

Combined/City/Highway: 19/17/21 mpg

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