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A Source of Wonder: The 2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 front 3/4 view

The current-generation Land Rover Defender has been on the market for four years now, and I still can't stop looking at it. The first truly modern Defender. The first new Defender in nearly 40 years.

How'd they get it so right?

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 rear 3/4 view

As I'm heard to say fairly often, there are a million ways to screw---anything---up, but especially a new version of a popular, to say nothing of beloved and iconic, vehicle. The Defender lives in a universe where there really are only two other vehicles. It's the Defender, the Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler. Three titans of the off-road world, each with a slightly different approach to the task at hand.

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 hood up

2023 Land Rover Discovery 110 engine

There are no real changes to the Defender 110 for 2023---under the hood, it's the same 3.0-liter 6-cylinder gasoline engine with 395 horsepower, 406 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive with a twin-speed transfer box, Terrain Response with selectable driving and off-road modes, and hill descent control. 20-inch wheels are standard.

The EPA fuel economy estimate is 19 mpg combined city/highway.

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE rear door open

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE rear seat

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE front seats

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE front seat detail

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE instrument panel

The base price of the 2023 Land Rover Defender 110 SE is $70,775 including destination. 

A lot of standard equipment comes with the Defender's base price, including preium LED headlights with automatic high beam assist, a panoramic roof that opens, rain-sensing front wipers, rear privacy glass, a leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and pushbutton start, a 10.1-inch touchscreen by which you control the 700-watt Meridian Surround Sound system, which includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Andrid Auto. There's also a decent, if not comprehensive, suite of active safety features.

2023 Land Rover Discovery 110 SE steering wheel and information cluster

2023 Land Rover Discovery 110 SE center stack

The biggest difference between the 110 SE I reviewed a year and a half ago and this one is that this one had a lot more in the way of extra-cost options. $700 for the Cold Climate Pack (heated windscreen, heated washer jets, heated steering wheel and headlight power wash), $750 for the Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack (all-terrain progress control, Terrain Response 2 and configurable terrain response), $1,550 for the Off-Road Pack (electronic active differential, domestic plug socket and off-road tires), $2,200 for the Family Pack (manual third-row seats, an upgrade to three-zone climate control, cabin air ionization and an air quality sensor), $1,600 for the Air Suspension Pack (electronic air suspension, adaptive dynamics and automatic headlight leveling), $650 for the Premium Interior Protection and Storage Pack, $250 for the Basic Rear Seat Convenience Pack, $210 for the Wheel Protection Pack and $25 for the Handover Pack (basically a box they hand you your key fobs in when you take delivery).

That's just the option packages. The list of a la carte options on this car is a long one as well. $650 for the Black Exterior Pack, $1,200 for adaptive cruise control with stop & go, $1,000 for a head-up display, another $1,000 for a black contrast roof, $800 for upgraded 20-inch wheels (these are five-spoke satin dark grey), $700 for a tow hitch receiver, $600 for rough-cut walnut verneer interior trim, $400 for ebony Morzine headlining, $360 for Wi-Fi with limited data plan, $100 for 60/40 split rear seats with a load-through area and center armrest, $400 for a body-colored spare wheel cover and $70 for an emergency kit.

If you think that adds up, you're right. Bottom line on the window sticker is $85,990.

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 side view

2023 Land Rover Defender 110 side view

That may sound like the Defender has priced itself out of the competition with Bronco and Wrangler---but consider that a top-of-the-line 2024 Bronco Heritage edition starts at $72,700 with destination, and is down on horsepower by 120 compared to the Defender. You can get into the top-of-the-line Wrangler Rubicon for $61,885, but there's a 110-horsepower gap.

Solving the power deficit requires a step up to either the Bronco Raptor ($91,430 with destination), at 418 horsepower to the Defender's 395 or the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 ($92,185), at 485 horsepower. And all three are then very different machines in terms of temperament and intended goals.

The one I'd want to live with day in and day out? The best all-arounder? The Defender.


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