The Best Defense: The 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE

In a great many things in this world, the closer you can stick to the original source material, the better. Too many cooks, human beings' endless capacity for mucking stuff up, whatever.

Land Rover makes marvelous vehicles---the Range Rover Evoque, the Range Rover Sport, the Range Rover, and the Land Rover Discovery (the Range Rover Velar is probably magnificent, too, but I haven't had one to evaluate yet). But if you want to understand the roots of the Rovers, you need a Defender.

From 1949 to 2016, the Defender was the Land Rover that conquered the world---quite literally. Safaris, expeditions, rescue missions---if you needed to get somewhere virtually unreachable, you wanted a Defender. After a four-year absence, the Defender is back and all-new. Our tester was a 2020 model, but changes for 2021 are few.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter inline six making 395 horsepower and 406 pounds per foot of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and has all-wheel drive with a twin-speed transfer box, Terrain Response with selectable driving and off-road modes, hill descent control, adaptive dynamics and air suspension. EPA fuel economy average: 17 city/22 highway. The result is a powerful machine capable of on-road cruising or off-road exploration in comfort and an overwhelming assurance that you're ready for whatever lies ahead.

Beyond rugged excellence, there's the aesthetics, which are simply a knockout. Every single thing about the new Defender---inside and out---says "Let's go see what's on the other side of every mountain we can find."

The base price of the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE is $62,250. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are premium LED headlights with high-beam assist, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, navigation and a 400-watt Meridian audio system.

Our tester also had $8,580 in extra-cost options. See the window sticker below for details. With $1,350 destination and delivery, the as-tested price of the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE is $72,180.

That's an exceptionally reasonable price for the capability, power and comfort you're getting. Jeep dealers were charging that and more for loaded Gladiators not that long ago and I'm sure Ford dealers will try to get that for the first few dozen Broncos. But this---this is the source material. I drive 104 cars a year, minimum and I can't remember the last time I wanted to keep one as much as I wanted to keep the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE.

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