Land Rover Defender 130 3-Row SUV Review: Now it Really Can Do It All

Land Rover Defender 130 is finally here, adding 8-seater capacity to 4WD capability. But can it really do it all – seat 8 comfortably? We climbed in and found out.

A Side View Of The Land Rover Defender 130
A side view of the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Finally, a Defender for Families

There was cause for cheer when Land Rover Defender returned to the market a few years ago. This very capable off-roader was redesigned for buyers for whom the journey and destination are a luxury. Defender lets you take the most challenging of roads, from rutted and creek-crossed, to those you forge yourself, and with needed functions, conveniences and comforts. Whatever the challenge of your journey, Land Rover Defender can conquer it. 

What it couldn’t do, until now, was seat 8 people. 

Related: How does the Jeep Grand Cherokee L compare? 

The Cabin Of The Land Rover Defender 130 And The 3 Panel Sunroof

The cabin of the Land Rover Defender 130 is made brighter by the 3 panel sunroof. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Purpose Built for 8 Passengers

For 2023, Land Rover extended the Defender line-up so there’s one for every household: the standard 110 with four doors and seating for 5; the 90 with 2 doors and seating for 5 (though it’s really ideal for 2) and now, the 130, featuring center and 3rd row benches that seat 3 each.

Land Rover took a purpose-built approach to this 3-row SUV. The 130 is longer than the 110 by nearly 14” giving it a nice wide foothold for climbing into the 3rd row, ample leg room and decent cargo space behind the 3rd row — 13.7 cubic feet. With the third row folded that increases to 43.5, about 11 more cubic feet than the Defender 110, and there’s 81 cubic feet with both rows folded. 

Need something a bit more posh? The Range Rover now is also a 3 row SUV

The Front Seat In Theland Rover Defender 130

The front seat in the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved 

  • The 3rd row is roomy, comfortable and easy to access
  • Second row seats adjust for even more room
  • Voice activated “Hey Land Rover” assistant
  • All the Land Rover Defender goodies, from a very nice multimedia system to accessories to customize your adventure
  • 4 car seat LATCH systems for kids car seats
  • More cargo space behind the center row than in the Defender 110
  • A really nice, capable and comfortable drive experience 
  • There is a V8 option at the high end

Related: Another option for a full size, 3-row SUV with 4WD: Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

The Cargo Area In The Land Rover Defender 130 Note The Lip On The Floor

The cargo area in the Land Rover Defender 130; note the lip on the floor between the cargo space and the 3rd row. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • Captains chairs are not an option for the center row
  • Cargo space is uneven behind the center row; 3rd row seats fold flat but leave a significant lip that may make usage a challenge 
  • The climate and off road control panel feature multi-function dials that may pose a learning curve 
  • Rear gate swings out, not up
  • The spare tire extends the length of this SUV to 211”, a consideration for garage parking
  • The 3-row 130 model is about $8,500 more than the 2-row 110 model
You Can Get A Sense Of Leg Room In The 3Rd Row With The Center Seats Fully Extended

You can get a sense of legroom in the 3rd row with the center seats fully pushed back. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Usable, and Accessible, 3rd Row

I was delightfully surprised the first time I climbed into the 3rd row in the Defender 130. Pulling the tab on the shoulder of the center row seat, the seat slid forward and tilted, giving me a nice wide foothold for climbing into the third row. 

With this SUV’s tall stance and ample headroom, there was enough space for me to hoist myself in without hitting my head, which if you’ve done this, you know, is a danger. The large rear windows, dedicated sunroof panel over the 3rd row and high roof line give this seat an open feeling even though you’re hemmed in by a center row bench. 

The center row seats slide forward so 3rd row passengers can have even a bit more, and necessary, leg room. Even when pushed forward, the center seats have a lot of legroom.

And then, there are passenger comforts in the third row: the floor is flat and not overly elevated, so your knees won’t hit you in the chin, there are air vents, the sunroof and cup holders. 

Love This Details Covered Latch Anchors

Love this detail: A cover over the LATCH anchors. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Kids Car Seats: Enough Space for All? 

In a word, yes; the Defender 130’s rear seats are large and there’s a lot of legroom. Still, this will be more about how owners configure car seats rather than just a lot of space. Some considerations: 

  • There are 4 full LATCH systems: Two in the outboard center row seats and the two outboard seats in the 3rd row
  • Rear facing car seats will likely still need the center row seats pushed all the way back to avoid impeding on front seat passengers’ space, which leaves minimal space for 3rd row passengers
  • The center row bench is wide and should be able to accommodate 3 car seats across if needed — and, the seatbelt for the middle seat is built into the seat shoulder, not pulled from the ceiling
  • The second row bench seat means that 3rd row passengers only have the option of climbing past the folded center row seat to get into the 3rd row
  • Installing a car seat in the 3rd row, without the benefit of captains chairs and a passthrough, may be tough as there’s not a ton of room to work; booster seats would be easy enough, though,
  • Teens and tweens should be perfectly comfortable in the 3rd row

You can see more about the Defender 130 in Connie’s video:

The Classic New Front Face Of The Land Rover Defender 130

The classic new front face of the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Land Rover Defender 130 Driving Experience 

No surprises here. The Defender 130 carries the same engine as the 110, a 6 cylinder, 395 HP engine. All wheel drive is standard, as are the other features that we expect in a true off-roader: hill descent control, all terrain drive modes, air suspension and all terrain tires.

On the road, the Land Rover Defender 130 is confident; it’s easy to accelerate onto the highway, comfortable at highway speeds and easy to manage in traffic and in the neighborhood. 

It’s large, though, and you’ll feel that extra 14” when parking the Defender more than when driving it. I found it was a squeeze in my standard size garage; If I took everything out of the garage I may have been able to park it. But maybe not. The spare tire on the rear gate is the issue; it adds enough length that the Defender takes up the full length of a parking spot. This is something to consider if you need to park it in a tight spot.

The Side Opening Door In The Land Rover Defender 130

The side opening door in the Land Rover Defender 130. Note the pocket on the door where you can stow even more things. Photo: Scotty Reiss

You Get All the Land Rover Goodies

In addition to category-crushing off road capability that Land Rover Defender is known for, such as accessories that let you really personalize your experience (Hello roof top camping!) and capability that lets you go anywhere (Hello driving through a creek instead of around it!), Land Rover outfitted the Defender 130 with all the creature comforts that you expect from a luxury brand, especially in the tech area. This includes: 

  • “Hey Land Rover” voice-activated assistance; once you’ve toggled on the wake word you can just say “hey Land Rover” and the assistant is there to change the radio station or tell your kids to stop fighting (oh, how we wish that was a thing!)
  • A new multimedia system on an 11’ touch screen that is elegant and easy to use
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Surround view camera system
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Leather trimmed seats
  • Heated and vented seats

Our test model included a cold weather package with upgraded off road capability in the form of more off road mode options ($750), a heated windshield and heated steering wheel ($700), upgraded 20” wheels ($1,300), black contrast roof ($1,000) and upgraded leather seats ($750).

The Center Console In The Land Rover Defender 130

The center console in the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Defender’s Functional Front Seat — Clever, But Takes Some Practice 

Land Rover gave its Defender owners some great details, such as the dashboard shelf that spans the entire dash, including behind the multimedia touch screen. Then, there are deep wells and storage cubbies between the front seats; these are great for holding things like bug spray and emergency snacks. 

One thing that will take some time to learn is the function of the climate and drive mode panel, which is at the center of the dashboard. There are two multipurpose dials; push them to toggle between cabin temperature, fan speed (tap the fan button first) and heated seats. 

And, they also serve as drive mode selector: push the center “Defender” icon and then turn the left dial to select your drive mode. Other drive mode selections are on this panel, including downhill descent control and traction control, and you can find even more drive mode details and functions on the touch screen. It’s all there, but it takes a bit of discovery to find and use it. 

The Rear Of The Land Rover Defender 130

The rear of the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This SUV Costs

  • The Defender 130 base model comes with an inline 6 cylinder turbo mild hybrid P300 engine that generates 295 HP generates, averages 19 MPG and includes standard features such as AWD, electronic air suspension, terrain mode select, hill hold/start, brake hold, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, 3 zone climate, rear lights, cargo hooks, driver assist and safety features including 360 degree sensors, rear traffic monitor, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist emergency braking and blind spot monitor, wade sensing, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto; pricing starts at $69,100
  • The SE edition drove is outfitted with the P400 engine that generates 395 HP and is priced from $77,100
  • The Defender 130 V8 model generates 493 HP and includes many upgrades like a video rear view mirror, 22” wheels and a suede steering wheel, starts at $116,600
  • Defender 130 tows up to 8200 lbs.
  • The price of our SE mid-grade model with several packages added, $88,025
The 3Rd Row Seats In The Land Rover Defender 130

The 3rd row seats in the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss


For those who need a 3-row SUV, there is no compromise. A 2-row just won’t do. And for those who need an SUV that is truly capable off-road, compromise means possibly getting stuck — or worse. 

So, it’s comforting that Land Rover finally built the Defender with a 3rd row, accommodating both passenger space and off-road ability. Now, it really can do everything. 

Disclosure: Land Rover provided the Defender 130 for this review, but all opinions are my own.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss