Space for Shared Epic Adventures

The 2024 Land Rover Defender 130 is a brute in the wild and a family friend on the road.
Feb 2, 2024
Barry Spyker

A week-long loan of Land Rover’s newest entry, the elongated Defender 130, came with a friendly request: Please do not take the vehicle off-roading. 

That initially seemed like an odd favor since Land Rovers have been engineered for the rough stuff since they were introduced in 1948, and still they’re regarded as one of the world’s best at it. Understandably, Jaguar-Land Rover was merely trying to protect its vehicles from we amateur rough-riders in the media.

But the request actually helped point to another side of the Defender story: The three-row rugged beast — 13.3 inches longer than its brethren — also is a smooth, quiet family hauler with plenty of room for eight. Sure, its 6,000-pound heft makes it slower to 60 mph, but its adaptive air suspension delivers all-day highway comfort and stability.

For 2024, new trim levels broaden the choices: The P500 offers a 498-hp or 518-hp supercharged V-8 engine, and a new Outbound trim reduces seating to five in favor of increased cargo space — 47 cubic feet behind the second row, 89 cubes with the back seats stowed.

The 130 is the third body style of the Defender family, joining the two-door 90 and four-door 110. The extra length has been tacked on behind the rear wheels, giving it a stretched-van look. The extra length also cuts into departure and breaker angles (for those with permission to drive off-road). 

It has an imposing presence and wide stance with 20-inch wheels and it comes in five trims, from the well-equipped S at around $70K to the P500 at $116,600.

Power comes from Land Rover’s 3.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged straight six which knocks out 395 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to reduce turbo lag and run a couple other features. Doling out the power is a quick-shifting and smooth 8-speed automatic transmission.

Together they move the long body to 60 mph in a rather impressive 6.2 seconds with a top speed of 119 mph. A new V-8 powertrain for 2024 will beat that time by eight-tenths and has a top speed of 150 mph for those really, truly
in a hurry.

More important, this rock-hungry off-roader is shockingly well-behaved on the road, too. The air suspension offers a firmer ride, not too soft and luxurious, that keeps the bumps and dips in check. And you can program it to lower when you park so passengers can step out rather than fall out. 

Handling is competent but there is some body roll on sharper corners, more than the crisper performance of the Range Rover group, so go easy. Steering is responsive and nicely weighted, and the brake pedal is a tad mushy but gets the job done.

When the pavement ends, the 130 is just getting started, able to tackle anything from sandy trails to thick mud and rocks. Just select one of is terrain modes and the 130 handles the rest, with help from a Watch Monitor to view rocks passing under the belly. Off-road displays inside even allow you to view the suspension as it does its job.

With advanced 4-wheel-drive systems, the 130 manages rocky terrain effectively enough with a 37.5-degree approach angle, 27.8 break-over and 28.5 departure angle. It also can wade through nearly three feet (35.4 inches) of water, and has a depth monitor for extra security.

Ground clearance is 11.4 inches. The standard air suspension drops two inches to allow easier entry, or raises 5.8 inches for maximum clearance. 

For camping, add a roof tent and roof ladder for convenient access to it. The static load rating of the roof is 661 pounds, including the tent, so heftier guys should stay below. Or bring a trailer — the 130 can tow up to 8,201 pounds.

All this activity won’t help fuel economy, already at a pretty dismal 17 mpg city, 21 highway for 19 mpg combined.

The interior blends a sophisticated look with rugged functionality. Seats are trimmed in plush Windsor leather, while climate knobs are big and burly for easy use with gloves.

The First Edition has 14-way heated and cooled seats in front, and heated second- and third-row seats. Seats are roomy and even the third row is comfortable enough for smaller adults — unusual among three-row SUVs. Comfort is enhanced with four-zone climate control and even a center-console fridge, albeit a small one.

The extra length makes for an expansive cabin yet, surprisingly, total volume is only a couple of cubic feet above the 110 Defender. With all the seats in use, there’s only 13 cubic feet behind the third row, enough for just a few small bags. There’s 30% more space (35.8 cubes) with the third row folded and 80.9 with all seats down.

Tall, upright windows mean visibility is good all around but, with a full boat and cargo, go with the optional ClearSight rear-view mirror which offers camera views without obstructions. 

Land Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment system is a big step up over previous years. Equipped with an 11.4-inch touchscreen, it’s intuitive and responsive. However, it requires some menu digging, an inconvenience while driving. The system features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and wireless smartphone charging.

There’s even a global location platform that allows for navigation in remote places around the world.

The driver gets a 12-inch reconfigurable information screen and a head-up display for at-a-glance data, and a premium Meridian sound system sends tunes across up to 14 speakers.

Advanced safety tech features include adaptive cruise control with emergency braking, lane-keep and blind-spot assist, rear traffic monitor, 3D surround cameras, and don’t forget the under-belly cameras and water depth sensor.

The Defender is always ready for the mud, rocky trails and streaming water, but half the fun is getting there. With the 130, the whole gang can come along. 

Barry Spyker was the automotive editor and columnist for the Miami Herald


2024 Land Rover Defender 130

MSRP: $70,600

As tested: $86,175 (Includes 20-inch wheels, Windsor leather seats, 14-way heated and cooled power front seats, heated second-row seats, four-zone climate, center-console fridge, Cold Weather package, premium Meridian audio, adaptive cruise control)

What’s all the excitement about? Extended-length Land Rover Defender adds third row, room for eight

Powertrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline six-cylinder engine, producing 395 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque; mated to 8-speed automatic transmission

How’s the performance? Ready for anything off-road, with 11.4-inch ground clearance; capable of wading through 35.4 inches of water. On road, a firm but comfortable ride but go easy on corners with this brute 

Fuel economy: EPA says 17 mpg city, 21 highway, for 19 combined

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