The new version of Land Rover’s classic, go-anywhere British SUV is charming, civilized and pretty quick, thanks to its smooth powertrain. But frustrating controls, unimpressive fuel economy, and a high step-in height count against it.
With the optional mild-hybrid six-cylinder engine (denoted by the P400 badge; the standard turbocharged four-cylinder is the P300), our four-door Defender 110 (there’s also a two-door, Defender 90 model) test vehicle has strong acceleration on demand, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is very smooth. But we were frustrated with the slow-responding engine stop/start feature, which makes for a longer-than-necessary delay when getting going again from a stop. Our tested fuel economy of 18 mpg overall on premium fuel is also disappointing.
The ride is steady and controlled, but it skews on the firm side, particularly noticeable when driving over highway expansion joints. Handling is relatively responsive, but there is no escaping the sensation that the tall and narrow Defender feels top-heavy and ponderous in corners. Despite the rather clumsy feel, it still remained safe when pushed to its limits.