2023 Land Rover Defender 130
A Better Option For Large Families With An Eye For Adventure
It’s not a stretch to say that the newest Land Rover Defender is the best Defender ever. But, Land Rover has a different kind of stretch in mind for their latest Defender, the kind that enables you to bring more people along for the ride. So, join us for an adventure in the new Defender 130.
No doubt this latest 2nd generation Land Rover Defender is more refined than ever; but for 2023, it’s also bigger than ever with a new Defender 130. Working with the same 119-inch wheelbase as the 5-door 110, there’s more than 13-inches of overall length added, and to be honest, stretching strictly the rear body like that does make it look a little awkward, but certainly no less ruggedly appealing.
For now, buyers can choose between 1 of 2 turbocharged inline 6-cylinder options, the base 296-horsepower P300, and our mild hybrid P400 with 395-horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque. A 493-horsepower P500 supercharged V8 will be available in ‘24.
Regardless of which route you take, there’s more than enough grunt to move this longer 130, which is heavier than the 110 by only a couple of hundred pounds. Power delivery is smooth and steady, aided by the mild-hybrid system which is primarily in place for stop/start, but can add a little extra oomph at launch to cancel turbo lag.
But it’s really all about adding more space inside; so, a 3rd row is standard, featuring belts for 3, providing seating for a total of 8 passengers relatively comfortably. There’s more cargo space. Behind that 40/20/40 3 rd row, 13.7 cubic-ft, up from 10.5 on the 110. Behind the 2nd row, 43.5. While all seats down yields 80.9 cubic-ft.
Of course, one thing that doesn’t change no matter how much it has grown is off-road ability. And indeed, like every other Land Rover, it’s so capable that it’s mostly boring in rugged terrain situations, as the only hard work comes in selecting the proper terrain response mode; the Defender takes it from there.
We felt much more involved at our Mason Dixon test track where the 130 left the line more in a smooth and steady fashion than overly aggressive, but power built rapidly as we got moving, hitting 60 in 6.3-seconds. The engine whines more than growls, but the 8-speed automatic transmission keeps things right in the heart of the power band with timely and smooth shifts. ¼-mile completed in 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour. On the braking end, there was a soft pedal and a good bit of nosedive, but a very solid overall feel and short stops from 60 of just 115-feet.
The standard air suspension delivers a ride that’s more firm than floaty, but when it comes to handling, it felt a little lethargic through our cone course, with nowhere near the amount of precision we experienced over on the Range Rover side. Though steering was quick and light, and there’s wasn’t too much body roll, but that’s mostly because we had to keep speeds very low to prevent stability control systems from shutting down our efforts.
The 130’s interior environment and seat comfort, however, are not far off the Range Rover’s luxury experience. Even if you opt for the synthetic leather, now available across the Defender line, for those wanting to avoid true cow hide. The 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen mounted in front of the dash looks fantastic, but it’s still not the greatest to use, with very small print and lots of menu diving that requires much attention to navigate. There’s also new 4-zone climate control, along with plenty of storage nooks for all seating positions.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined. We averaged 19.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Still, it’s just slightly below average on Energy Impact Score, burning through 15.7-barrels of oil yearly with 7.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
With numerous trim levels and multiple powertrain options, there are an enormous number of Defenders to choose from. Just know the 130 starts at $70,575 and tops out with the V8 at $118,075.
Bigger isn’t always better, but if you’ve got a large family full of adventure seekers, the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 is clearly a better option for spending some quality time well off the beaten path. And it’s not too big as a daily driver either. The 130 truly does deliver more, and does it without compromise.
- Engine: 3.0-liter I-6 Turbo
- Torque: 406 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined
- Horsepower: 395
- 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 19.7 MPG (Premium)