2023 Land Rover Defender 130 first drive: now a proper people hauler

2023 Land Rover Defender 130 first drive: now a proper people hauler

The modern Land Rover Defender is not lacking in seats. You can get a third row in the 110 and a front bench seat in the 90, making it possible to get along with six to seven people on whatever adventure you have cooked up. Of course, “getting along” is not the same as “getting comfortable”. For that, you’ll need the new 2023 Land Rover Defender 130.

The 130 is virtually identical to the 110 from the front bumper to the rear doors. Even the wheelbase is the same. The difference is that the rear end has a tacky extra 13.5 inches, which hang over the rear wheels. If you’re thinking that this would reduce the departure angle substantially, you’d be right. Comparing the 130 to the air-suspension-equipped 110 (the 130 only comes with air suspension), the 110 has a 37.7-degree departure angle at the on-road setting and 40 degrees at the off-road setting. Meanwhile, the 130 has a 24.5-degree departure angle at on-road height and 28.5 degrees when raised. So, if you’re going to take your 130 off-road, you have to be careful not to drag the tail. At least the minimum approach and breakover angles remain the same, as does the ground clearance of 8.5 and 11.5 inches, depending on the suspension mode.

2023 Land Rover Defender 130

The extra length also changes the look of the defender, and as far as most are concerned, it’s not for the better. autoblog The employee is worried. After spending a week with it, though, I liked the look and found the 110 almost stubby in comparison. At least, it definitely looks better in person, so before writing it off completely, make sure you check one out in real life.

Apart from the obvious extra length, one notable exterior change is the lack of rear safari windows. Instead, the 130 gets a conventional sunroof. It certainly isn’t as conspicuous as the Safari windows on the short Defenders, but it does let in more light (or less if you close the shades), which helps make the rear seats feel airier and more spacious. Is.

And on the subject of room, the 130 has plenty, at least for the passengers. At nearly 5-foot-11, and a little under 300 pounds, Yours truly can sit in the third row very comfortably. There’s also plenty of headroom and legroom. There isn’t much need to sacrifice second-row occupants, if at all. So, the promise of a Defender with really usable extra seats has been fulfilled. That doesn’t make it a minivan though. The third-row seat is a bit hard, being a bit low to the floor, and luckily three seats still fit, despite having seatbelts for it. Entry is also a bit tricky as the rear doors aren’t any bigger and the second row folds forward smoothly without any seat-down moves to provide wider pass-through.

The situation is similar with cargo space. That extra length results in significantly more space than the Defender 110 and a bit more than the other Land Rover three-row SUV, the Discovery, but volumes are not as spacious as you might expect compared to the segment. Complete. Space with all seats up is the best example: The 130 offers 15.3 cubic feet of space, a useful improvement over the three-row 110’s nearly wasteful 10.7, but still one of the smaller volumes for a three-row SUV . Behind the 2nd row, the 130 expanded its lead with 43.5 cubes to the 3rd-row 110’s 34.6. Flatten the second row and the 130 maxes out at 80.9 cubic feet versus the 110’s 69. Some of the 130’s cargo-carrying capacity is slightly hindered by the hump formed by the folded third row. Keep in mind, though, that the Defender’s boxy shape should make it more usable than other larger, more rounded SUVs than its numbers suggest.

Everything else inside is shared with the 110. There’s the same appealing combination of utilitarian features and materials like shelves and grippy buttons, with splashes of luxury like natural-finish wood trim and sleek infotainment graphics. Forward visibility is great, but rearward visibility is poor, so full-size headrests for every seating position fill the rearview mirrors.

As far as the driving experience is concerned, it is not much different compared to the smaller Defenders. The 130 comes standard with air suspension, which offers adjustable ride height for better off-roading or easier access when parked. It is a bit soft but well controlled. Cornering isn’t the Defender’s strong suit with good roll, but it’s better than the G-Wagen or the Wrangler. And the steering is surprisingly precise, albeit slow and light in effort. It’s expertly tuned to make it easy to navigate tight wooded trails, or equally tight parking lots.

While other Defenders offer four and eight-cylinder engines, the Defender 130 is only available with a turbocharged, mild-hybrid 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, one of which is exclusive to the model. That would be the base, low-output inline-six (dubbed the P300), which makes 296 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle, however, was equipped with a P400 high-output mild-hybrid inline-six making 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

Even without experience with low-output engines, we feel confident in recommending high-output engines if your budget allows. It’s impressively smooth and quiet, and it maneuvers past Defenders with ease. The automatic is a solid match, shifting smoothly and quickly, and the full-time four-wheel drive comes in handy in inclement weather. The low-output engine is likely to be equally smooth (and have the same driveline), but has no advantage compared to the high-output engine. That’s in power, and it has similar fuel-economy ratings of 17 mpg city, 21 highway, and 19 combined. It still has a tow rating of 8,200 pounds, but then again, you can have all that, plus an extra hundred horsepower and pound-feet of torque just a little further.

The addition of 130 has resulted in a huge increase in the cost of space. The cheapest version available is the S trim at $69,475. If you want the higher-output six, it’s another $10,300 to step up to the SE, which nets you some extra features like different headlights, a sunroof, and 20-inch wheels. For comparison, you can get a Defender 110 for as little as $54,975 or $59,775 for a comparable 110S.

The Defender 130 ultimately fills a very specific niche: a luxury three-row SUV that can go off-road, but, unlike Land Rover’s current Discovery, with the boxy, rugged, go-anywhere look that’s all the rage these days. is in It’s really the only sport in town, but because of its smart passenger packaging and great base driving experience, at least it’s a good one.

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