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2022 Land Rover Defender Review By Larry Nutson

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2022 Land Rover Defender 90
Adventure at its best

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

The global off-road vehicle market is experiencing high demand, owing to the growing popularity of enjoying the out-of-doors and the growth in extreme sports. The Covid-19 pandemic with the resultant travel restrictions and work-from-home limitation has further boosted individual desires to be outdoors.

If outdoors is where you seek adventure the Land Rover Defender is among the best, if not the best, vehicle for overlanding and off-road driving.

I drove two different iterations of the longer wheelbase 4-door new Defender 110 back in early 2021 shortly after its introduction. Both were equipped with a 395-hp turbocharged and supercharged 3.0-L inline six with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

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My most recent drive experience was in the shorter wheelbase 2-door Defender 90. For 2022 a new 518-horsepower 5.0-L V8 is available in both the 90 and 110, and that’s what was equipped in the Defender 90 I drove. The V8 makes 461 lb-ft of torque that is routed through an 8-speed automatic to a standard all-wheel drive system with a twin-speed transfer box.

The V8 makes itself know with a rumbling exhaust note. It’s very responsive and pushes the Defender from stop to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Top speed is 149 mph. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 16 mpg combined with 15 city mpg and 19 highway mpg.

Personally, I loved everything about the V8, in this day of electrify everything. Yes, gasoline prices are high. But, that’s the tradeoff. Plus, the Defender itself is nicely refined for comfortable on-highway, paved road driving. This thanks to its aluminum unibody architecture and 4-wheel independent suspension.

The Defender V8 features unique suspension and transmission tuning, bespoke spring and damper rates, and a new Electronic Active Rear Differential. All this is intended to deliver more agile and engaging handling with heightened body control.

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The striking Santorini Black exterior and unique 22-inch alloy wheels on the V8 I drove are not only elegant but add an overall look of performance. Carpathian Grey and Yulong White, both of which feature a Narvik Black roof, are the only other color choices for the V8.

The 90 seats five. An available center jump seat for the front makes room for one more. Yes, the 2-door is a bit inconvenient for rear seat passenger entry and exit or carrying routine household items. The side hinged rear cargo door is actually fairly easy and convenient to use. We Americans probably would have preferred that it open on the curb/passenger side. But we should consider the Defender’s British pedigree and their driving on the left side of the road.

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Notwithstanding the Defender’s off-road focus, it is equipped with a long list of on-road collision warning, collision intervention, and driving control assistance features. Its excellent off-road capability is enhanced by Configurable Terrain Response, low-speed progress control and hill descent control, height-adjustable air suspension, and water depth monitoring.

The V8 is fitted with 22-inch wheels mounted with 275/45R-22 Continental CrossContact RX all-season tires. I liked that the street tires were relatively quiet out on the open highway. For any serious overlanding suitable all-terrain off-road tires should be mounted. However, knobby off-roaders tend to “sing” a bit on paved surfaces. Again, tradeoffs.

The Defender 90 is offered in eight trim levels priced to start at $48,700. A new top of the line Defender V8 Carpathian Edition is priced at $114,400. The V8 I drove had a base MSRP of $104,200 plus a $1,350 destination and delivery charge.

More details on the 2022 Land Rover Defender 90 V8 and the entire Land Rover product line can be found at

My previous review of the new Defender in the form of the 2020 Defender 110 First Edition is HERE.

My review of the 2021 Defender 110 is HERE.

I found the Defender 90 V8 both fun to drive as well as relaxing. Defender 90 with a 101.9-inch wheelbase, which is 17.1 inches shorter than the Defender 110 four-door, is easily maneuverable in a crowded city like Chicago where I make my home.

The cockpit and seating is comfortable with good ergonomic placement of all controls and switches. Because you sit up tall and the cowl is low, outward vision is very good.

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Suede cloth seats, soft-touch materials, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, the 11.4-inch touchscreen, and the center console with open storage space all make for a pleasant driving experience.

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I could easily make the Defender 90 V8 my daily driver. And my young grandchildren would be very happy to climb into the rear seat and join me.

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A final note. In 1948 the Series I Defender was introduced at the Amsterdam Motor Show. Land Rover is marking the anniversary with the Defender 75th Limited Edition. Available in 90 or 110 body designs, the Defender 75th Limited Edition, based on the high-specification HSE, has an exclusive exterior design theme with unique detailing, finished in iconic Grasmere Green paint with complementing wheels and interior finishes.

Happy motoring!

© 2022 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy