The 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 Review: Luxury on a Grand Scale

As the sun sets on 2023, Land Rover welcomes a new member to its illustrious Defender family—the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130. Positioned as the longest of the three configurations, this SUV enters the scene as a spacious, eight-passenger luxury bus, extending an invitation to adventure-seekers and family-oriented enthusiasts alike. With a starting price of $69,475 in the United States and $97,750 in Canada (including freight and delivery charges), the Defender 130 stakes its claim in the premium SUV market.

Power and Performance: Choices for Every Journey

In the United States, the Defender 130 comes with two powertrain options. The base S trim offers the P300, a supercharged 3.0L inline-six engine generating 296 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it delivers power to all four wheels, ensuring off-road prowess and confident on-road performance.

For those seeking more power, the mild hybrid P400 is available on all U.S. trims and Canadian-spec units. This supercharged 3.0L inline-six elevates the driving experience with 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy ratings, while not groundbreaking, are comparable to other luxury utility vehicles, with 17/21/19 mpg in the U.S. and 13.8/11.2/12.4 L/100 km in Canada.

Interestingly, the 2024 model year promises a supercharged 5.0L V8 option, known as the P500, boasting a formidable 493 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. However, the Defender, unlike its Range Rover counterparts, doesn’t currently have plans for plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Versatility Meets Comfort: Off-Road Capabilities and Interior Space

Designed for versatility, the Defender 130 lives up to its Land Rover heritage with off-road capabilities that include a towing capacity of up to 6,614 pounds and a capable four-wheel-drive system. With a ground clearance ranging from 8.5 to 11.5 inches, it confidently tackles diverse terrains, complemented by impressive approach and departure angles.

Inside, the Defender 130 transforms into a luxurious haven, accommodating up to eight passengers. The third-row bench, a distinguishing feature of the 130, offers enhanced legroom and elevated seat cushions for comfortable extended journeys. Cargo space is generous, offering 15.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 35.8 cubic feet behind the second, and a whopping 76.1 cubic feet behind the first.

Form Meets Function: Rugged Design and Intuitive Technology

The Defender 130’s exterior boasts a rugged design that seamlessly blends retro and modern elements, paying homage to its heritage without sacrificing contemporary appeal. While not as roomy as some competitors, the Defender 130’s cabin exudes a rugged aesthetic, with ample storage spaces and intuitive climate controls.

The infotainment system, featuring an 11.4-inch touchscreen, offers a user-friendly experience with well-laid-out menus and quick responsiveness. Although it may take some time to familiarize yourself, mastery comes swiftly after a week behind the wheel.

On the Road: A Smooth Operator with a Few Quirks

Behind the wheel, the Defender 130 doesn’t feel like driving a bus. Air suspension efficiently absorbs imperfections, providing a smooth ride ideal for extensive family road trips. However, a delayed throttle response and grabby brakes, while not deal-breakers, slightly detract from the refined driving experience. With an overall length of 211.7 inches, parking might present a challenge, but a 360-degree camera system alleviates navigation concerns.

The Price of Grandeur: Customization and First Edition Features

Starting at $69,475 in the U.S. and $97,750 in Canada, the Defender 130 is customizable to suit individual preferences. The First Edition, exclusive to the 2023 model year, adds a touch of opulence with eight-passenger seating, a choice of paint colors, three interior color schemes, and three wood finishes. Standard features include 14-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, an icebox in the center console, and heated second-row seats.

Conclusion: Capable, Comfortable, and Unmistakably Land Rover

In the grand tapestry of premium SUVs, the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 stands out as a testament to Land Rover’s legacy. Capable off-road, spacious and comfortable for passengers, and draped in rugged yet refined design, it caters to those seeking adventure without compromising luxury. While fuel efficiency might not be its forte, the Defender 130 establishes itself as a distinguished member of the Defender family, offering a grand scale of luxury for those ready to embrace it.