USED: The 2020 Land Rover Defender Is All That It’s Said to Be

Land Rover Defender

When adventure is the luxury, this is the SUV to take you there.

When I think of the Land Rover Defender, I think of Queen Elizabeth elegantly spiriting away from Balmoral castle and across the Scottish moors, masterfully at the wheel of her Land Rover Defender. For the Queen, confidence was rooted in being prepared and maintaining a stiff upper lip. For the Defender, confidence is in its all-terrain capability and dutiful interior details that let the driver command the ship. The airy interior space is respite. It is the perfect companion.

The Land Rover Defender has a characteristic boxy shape and iconic add-ons like grille protectors and roof racks. It comes in 2-door, 4-door and convertible models. A prestigious vehicle, it quickly became a go-to for trailblazers, leaders and troops, celebrities, safari guides and their guests. Until, that is, 1997 when it was last sold in the US, and 2016 when it ended production altogether.

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Land Rover Defender

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

Classic, Iconic and Newly Reimagined

But now it’s been re-crafted into a modern version with a starting price tag of $50,500. Not just a confident all-terrain SUV, the Defender can be customized to truly fit off-road life and bucket-list adventures. It has four outfitter option packages, two and four-door models and seating for either five, six or seven (with a third row). There are two engine options — a 4-cylinder with 296 horsepower or V6 with 395 horsepower.

The 2020 Defender takes its heritage seriously. They’ve added characteristic details like transom windows on the roofline and a spare tire mounted on the rear gate (not on the hood as in previous models). Leather seats are framed with woven inserts made from Decitex fibers and recycled polyester for added strength. They are an homage to the canvas roofs of early Land Rovers.  

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Land Rover Defender

The wide rear seats in the Land Rover Defender are made from leather and durable woven fabric made from recycled polyester. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Clever, Modern Details Continue the Innovative Defender Heritage 

Then, there are some novel modern features. New options include a refrigerated center console, a front seat bench that allows seating for six, and a tow hook that pops out from the under the rear bumper with the push of a button.

Additionally, innovative details are incorporated to truly make the Land Rover Defender capable under any conditions. The rear cargo floor is a resilient hard surface. You can even remove it for cleaning. The center console top, the dash and the door panels are covered in a soft, cleanable fabric called Luxtec. 

As simple as this detail is, it turned out to be one of my favorite features.

Land Rover Defender

The transom windows in the rear of the Land Rover Defender

Three Things That Define Defender: Light, Power and Space

During my week-long test drive of the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE, I discovered three key things that define Defender: Light, power and space. The light in the Defender comes from the high ceilings accented by the transom windows and sunroof. These make the interior feel more like a room than a car. 

Furthermore, there is a lot of power. Alongside the throttle with 395 horsepower and 406 torque in our SE edition test model, there are lots of places to plug in devices and gear. The Defender has three power ports in the center console, one on the front passenger side dash, four rear seat power ports and a household plug and 12V port in the cargo area.

Additionally, storage is everywhere. You can stow larger items in the spacious cargo area or on the roof. Rails can be reached with an attachable ladder. Cleverly, textured panels on the hood allow a place to safely step. For smaller storage needs, there are many interior spots as well. The front cabin has a deep center console that can hold a lot of things—huge water bottles, a small laptop/tablet or cameras. A storage bay spans the entire dashboard. It even offers space to the left of the steering wheel and behind the infotainment screen. This is perfect for tucking away maps, snacks and sunscreen. There’s also a key cubby on the dash. No more fishing at the bottom of the cupholder for your keys.

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Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender cargo area with a removable floor that can be washed off. Photo: Scotty Reiss

From the Rear, the Defender is a Classic SUV

The spare tire mounted on the rear gate gives the Defender a classic look and feel. It also gives it old school function. The rear gate swings wide from the left side to give full access to the cargo floor. Inside, a few key details make the cargo area great for hauling gear or a place to set up and watch the sunset. First, the cargo floor is made of a textured hard surface. Plus, it’s removable for cleaning. Just give it a quick spray with the hose, and pop it back in. Underneath, you’ll find a jack and kit for changing the spare tire. 

Then, two power ports — one 12V and one household plug — allow you to power your gear. To make it all accessible, the Defender can lower (or raise) up to 5.7 inches for extra help loading or unloading. If you need a higher clearance, it can also raise up while on your off-roading adventures.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Used: The 2020 Land Rover Defender Is All That It’s Said To Be - Rear View Camera Image With Tow View

The rearview camera has “tow mode” that allows you to target your tow hook. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What is the Defender’s Off-Road Capability? 

The Defender is capable of tackling harsh terrain with its pre-programmed drive modes (Land Rover calls it their Terrain Response system). You can toggle through these on the center screen. Based on the terrain ahead, you can choose between different drive modes like snow, gravel and sand, or “wade.” Wade mode raises the suspension to better navigate up to 35” of water. Of course, you also have eco or comfort modes, which are a little more comfortable for street driving.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Used: The 2020 Land Rover Defender Is All That It’s Said To Be - Live View Mirror

The ‘digital mirror’ offers a live view via a camera in the shark fin antenna, or flip a lever for a conventional reflection image. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Modern Technology for Modern Adventures

Connectivity is as important as comfort and capability. I love that when I plugged in my phone Apple CarPlay automatically came up on the center screen. Android Auto is also available. I had a choice of using my own maps or the built in navigation, which has its advantages. First, if you’re off the grid, you’re more likely to be able to navigate with the built-in system rather than the one that relays through a phone app. Also, when you’re out of gas (guess how I knew this!) the built-in navigation system will alert you and direct you to a nearby gas station. 

Another tech feature I really loved is the live rearview mirror. When you flip the lever under the mirror, you toggle between a rearview reflection and a live video. This will come in handy when the cargo space is packed to the roof or when hauling a trailer. Your view won’t be blocked by stuff or people. 

Additionally, there’s a tow-mode camera setting. This assists you with yellow guidelines on the screen to help you steer and has a target for your tow hook. The whole system is super helpful. It adjusts guidelines and provides a view of the ground, so you can see any obstacles or uneven ground in the direction you’re heading.

Land Rover Defender

A view of the front cabin in the Land Rover Defender. A storage bin runs along the entire front dash, even behind the infotainment screen. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What does the 2020 Defender Cost? 

The MSRP of the 2020 Defender 110 SE I drove was $62,250. It includes some great features, including:

  • The Performance and Handling package inline-six-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid assist (395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft torque), Land Rover’s Terrain Response 4-wheel drive system with hill descent control and air suspension.
  • The Comfort and Convenience package includes LED headlights, front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, two-zone climate control and other tech features like Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, and more.
  • The Safety and Security Package includes a perimeter alarm, rear child passenger car seat ISOFIX system, electronic traction control, dynamic stability control, roll stability control, ABS, emergency braking assist, cruise control and speed limiter, lane keep assist and rear traffic monitor.
  • Some optional items were also added at no charge including adaptive cruise control, a heated windshield and headlight power washer, Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack that gives more control over off-road functions, off-road tires, the rear household plug, 14-way heated front seats, the sliding panoramic sunroof, Sirius XM radio, and the Black Contrast Roof. It’s nice to get these things at no charge!
  • With the destination charge of $1,025, the total MSRP came to $63,275.

Keep in mind, these were the original prices when the 2020 released. You can get a used model for cheaper these days, or check out a recent model for similar pricing.

Land Rover Defender

The cup holders and deep cargo well, which has a wireless phone charge pad, two USB ports (one standard, one USB C fast charger, and a 12V port) in the Land Rover Defender. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved

  • The interior’s mix of functionality and luxury
  • The wireless charging station and deep storage in the middle console
  • Live rearview mirror
  • The easy clean interior materials — this was a favorite
  • The small storage shelf running along the front of the dash
  • Distinct look in the rear exterior
  • Adjustable air suspension with the push of a button
  • The six power ports and USB ports in the backseat alone
  • The panoramic sunroof
  • The open, airy interior filled with heritage details
Land Rover Defender

A grab bar is built into the dash, which doubles as a storage cubby. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know

  • Child car seat latches on either side on the rear outboard seats
  • Camera settings include on-road, off-road, and tow modes
  • A refrigerator can be added to the middle console
  • The leather seats come heated, but cooled seats are an add on
  • The gear selector goes back for drive, forward for reverse, center for neutral, and you push a button for park
  • There are textured panels on the hood that allow you to have grip for your feet when loading things onto the roof
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard
  • Fuel economy is estimated to average 19 MPG: 17 city, 22 highway. We averaged about 16 MPG during our test drive. 
Land Rover Defender

Me with the Land Rover Defender

I Felt Like a Queen for a Week

And I can completely imagine I’d feel like a queen every day driving the Land Rover Defender. In the driver’s seat, you’re in command of this very capable, fun, and easy-to-maneuver full-size SUV. It has all the creature comforts you could need from leather seats and connectivity to the live view mirror and the tow-view rearview camera. The Land Rover Defender’s extreme capability lets you climb mountains and traverse sand dunes. And at the end of the day, easy-clean surfaces make sure you only bring home the memories, not the residue of your adventures.

What We Listened to in the Land Rover Defender 

Getting out of the city and off the grid is the goal, and a great soundtrack is necessary. This is where we started, with classic but contemporary sounds, authentic guitars and catchy tunes and driven by some classic English song masters. 

Disclosure: The Land Rover Defender was provided for this test drive. All opinions are my own. 

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