There are more than a few readers looking at this installment of The Right Spec and opining that the best way to spec a Land Rover – any Land Rover – is to not do so at all. Given some, uh, challenges that have befallen early adopters of the rebooted Defender, they may have a point.
Nevertheless, this thing turns more than a few heads and stylists in Coventry certainly got it right when putting pen to paper (or mouse to screen, as it were). For 2022, the Defender’s base price has jumped a bit; but, as we’ll see, the best models are much further up the food chain.
Before you all scream bloody murder about the six-figure SUV which has been selected, note we are seeking what we feel is the best spec for a model – all things considered – and not necessarily the cheapest one. Never has this ethos been more on display than with the Defender V8, a machine whose sticker price is more than double that of the entry-level trim. We’re sticking with the Defender 90 for this purpose, thanks to its agility and lighter weight (cue everyone saying no one actually takes a $100k rig off-road). The 90 has better proportions, too.
The mighty V8 between its front fenders is supercharged and cranks out 518 horsepower to create a machine that is apparently capable of scampering to 60mph in less than five seconds. The ZF 8-speed automatic should be more than stout enough to withstand the mill’s 516 lb-ft of torque without reducing itself to 10,000 oily bottlecaps. That is 22-inch rubber on all four corners, a decision at which your author would normally chuckle if not for the fact that purveyors of true off-road rubber, such as Nitto, now make their gnarly offerings in these sizes when replacement time rolls around. Land Rover offers 20-inch off-roads from the factory for $350.
All V8-equipped Defenders come with the Terrain Response 2 system from the Defender X, along with air suspension and an electronic active diff. All of this kit should get you into (and out of) the fox hunt with ease. Those cold and rainy British mornings are aided by a heated windshield and heated washer jets, permitting drivers to peer forward in the gloom while enjoying the Windsor Leather interior. And, yes, the FitBit-like ‘activity key’ shows up here in case your fox hunting clothes don’t have pockets.
Exterior design packages are expensive and rather useless, though we do wish Land Rover would offer paint colors more expressive than ones that look like London fog. Paying extra money for an infotainment touchscreen that’s only 1.4 inches bigger than the standard 10-inch Jumbotron is a waste of money, but the front undershield costing $650 is a smart investment.
No one is arguing spending over $100,000 on a two-door Land Rover with a history of difficult build quality is the best idea anyone’s ever brought to the table. But if you are keen on proudly waving the Union Jack while hanging out in a pair of muddy boots, this is The Right Spec.
Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.
[Images: Land Rover]
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