Land Rover Defender SUV defends against boredom

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If I was still writing essays on, “What I did last summer,” I would say I drove the Land Rover Defender AWD and leave it at that.

That is because this car, which has been redesigned for the first time in many years, is a sight for sore eyes. It is polished, sleek and fun to drive.

Whether it is a two-door 90 series ($60,000-plus) or the four-door 110 series ($80,000-plus), this car is a go-getter. And it’s not a Johnny Come Lately. The new model represents 70 years of innovation and improvement, honoring its road-tested history for ruggedness and dependability.

The Land Rover Defender AWD 90 two-door seats six and gets 395 horsepower out of a six-cylinder engine. With that, you can expect to get about 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway. If you want a little more room, then the Defender 110 seats seven.

Now, let’s get to the packages: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban. The bottom line is that these different packages offer a spectrum of upgrades on everything from overcoming flooded doorways to styling. So explore and enjoy.

For me, the distinctive silhouette immediately gives you a sense of the car’s character. But as usual, it is the handling of local terrain under tropical storm and hurricane conditions that make all the difference.

If flooding has you parking on your grass, then the SUV’s 11.5-inch ground clearance will keep you clean while avoiding big rocks or parking knobs everyone is dropping on their swales. The innovative air springs make it all feel like floating down river in an inner tube.

This is not a submarine, but water fording is a skill at which it excels. To that end, the Land Rover Defender 110 has a max fording depth of over 35 inches. So, if you are in hurricane season or King Tide and the water is on the rise, this SUV will get you places with the engine intact and your shoes will remain dry, too.

But consider carefully plunking down your bitcoins for the “safari rack” on the roof and the side mounted gear carrier if you are worried about mileage and off-put by lots of exterior noise as the wind fights to keep up.

Speaking of the interior, I love its understated, modern aesthetic. In keeping with its “what you see is what you get” philosophy, Land Rover left the door rivets exposed, so you get the look and feel of an all terrain-dominating machine. The cloth seats and grained leather in the basic model feels comfortable, but if you want to take it up several notches then splurge for the Windsor leather. It’s worth it.

All in all, this is a stellar redesign of one of the classics. With this showing, it is clear that the new Land Rover Defender is going to give every luxury SUV on the market a run for their money.


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