By Veeno Dewan
The 2022 all-new Land Rover Defender is now available in both a short and long wheelbase model with retro styling cues and with legendary extreme off-road capability. The design still showcases that classic Defender trope; the upright, squared-off boxy shape, and contrasting roof colour. There are some hints of its military roots, with the exposed hex bolts in the doors. It looks expensive and premium focused.
We tested the short wheel base two -door Defender. Powerplants include a base turbo 2.0L four-cylinder 296-hp turbocharged engine and a 3.0-liter inline-six unit which utilizes an electric supercharger and 48-volt hybrid system that produces 395-hp. The transmission is an eight-speed ZF automatic and two-speed transfer case that provides a set of low-range ratios ideal for towing ( 3,720 kg) or off-roading when finesse is required. For 2022, a V8 model with a 518-hp Supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is also available if you feel the need for even more power!
The new Defender has a unibody construction versus a body-on-frame setup, and now has fully independent coil suspension, but it can be upgraded with an optional air spring system that enables adjustable ride height. The Defender has 11.5 inches of ground clearance and the amazing ability to wade through 35 inches of water!
Standard equipment includes a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that runs the Land Rover interface called Pivi Pro; a larger 11.4-inch display is optional. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is an in-dash navigation system, a six-speaker stereo, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Both 10- and 14-speaker premium Meridian stereo systems are optional features along with a digital gauge cluster and a head-up display on upper trims.
Optional off -road equipment is excellent and includes Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Low Traction Launch , Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Electronic air suspension, and the afore mentioned Twin-Speed Transfer Box (High/Low Range).
We tested the Defender P400 X-Dynamic SE, a model that slots in between the Defender and the Defender X, arriving with a tougher , macho exterior and more extras. Expensive options on our tester included:- Air Suspension Pack, Adaptive Dynamics, Three Zone Climate Control, Towing Pack Terrain Response, Extended Black Exterior Pack, Cold Climate Package, Black Contrast Roof, Derivative Pack, and 20-inch wheels. Highly recommended is the Comfort and Convenience package, not only do you get the excellent Meridian sound system, but also a refrigerator inside the front centre console. Base price for our tester was $79,800. However, the multitude of options worth $14,720 and a Destination fee of $1,950.boosted the final tester price to a heady $96,470. So, it isn’t cheap!
Interior wise , the quasi-military style means exposed rivets in the door panels and a cool magnesium beam that runs the full width of the dashboard that’s also a structural detail. Materials, fit, and finish are top notch. There are 12-way heated, leather electric memory front seats, 40:20:40 split folding rear seats with centre armrest and a cool optional front jump seat for three occupant seating. Seats are comfortable and there is ample storage cubbies and grab handles for more spirited off-roading. The rear seat gives plenty of leg and headroom for adults, But access to the rear in this compact two- door model is a chore! The rear cargo is adequate for the size of the Defender 90.
Key safety features include Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, Available adaptive cruise control and more.
On the road, the Defender 90’s 3.0L inline-six engine is inherently smooth and urgent with a nice turn of speed , taking about six seconds to hit 100 km/h. Steering, ride, and handling will be familiar to those who own Land Rovers – a little body roll, but not too intrusive. This is a vehicle that manages itself with aplomb. whether on the highway, the urban jungle and of course in its element while off-roading or trail hopping – nothing can phase it. Traction is good and the various too many to mention 4×4 systems and off-road aids deliver exceptional performance off road. Ground clearance and suspension performance and axle articulation are beyond compare in its class, making short work of rocks, inclines, mud, snow, and slippery surfaces. Water wading depth is excellent, also amongst best in class while the hill descent and crawl range performance is an off-roaders delight.
Land Rover have knocked one out the park with the Defender 90. It can end up very expensive when fully optioned, but worth it for a true off-roader wrapped up in luxury and class. Nice work Land Rover!
2022 Land Rover Defender 90. Pricing starts at $79,800.
Total Price as tested $96,470. Including Options ($14,720.) and Destination $1,950.