Review: The 2022 Land Rover Defender 90 V8 is the last SUV of its kind

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Two-door SUVs multiply.

Flash back to 2020 and the only one for sale was the Jeep Wrangler, but the new Ford Bronco and Land Rover Defender 90s hit the scene the following year.

Now Land Rover has kicked things up a notch by introducing a V8 engine to the Defender 90, making it the most powerful of the trio by far.

The Defender 90 V8 features a 518hp supercharged 5.0-litre engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission that is shared with other Land Rover models and is also available on the four-door Defender 110.


The Defender 90 V8 is the only two-door SUV with an eight-cylinder engine.

The Defender 90 V8 is the only two-door SUV with an eight-cylinder engine.
(Fox Digital News)

It’s capable of accelerating the Defender from 90 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 149 mph, making the boxy model one of the fastest bricks in the world.

Unfortunately for fans of powerful SUVs, it’s the most expensive 2-door with a starting price of $109,375. To put that in perspective, the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 powered by a 470-hp V8 starts at $81,190. The Defender 90 V8, however, is more luxurious in Land Rover fashion and comes loaded with a long list of standard equipment including a 360-degree camera system that provides a virtual view of what’s under the vehicle and a suspension independent with adjustable air. springs that can lift the body to provide up to 11.5 inches of ground clearance for serious off-road driving.

It can cut through 35.4 inches of water without stalling the motor and is equipped with ultrasonic sensors that measure the depth of the water, which is displayed with a live graph on the central touch screen. If you prefer to cruise, you can tow one with a trailer that weighs up to 7,716 pounds.

The rear seating area of ​​the Defender 90 is suitable for tall passengers.

The rear seating area of ​​the Defender 90 is suitable for tall passengers.
(Fox Digital News)

The Defender 90 may only have two doors, but it’s longer than the Wrangler and Bronco and offers room for adults in the rear. Six-footers can fit around it and a pair of alpine windows above the side windows and a huge sunroof keep it from feeling claustrophobic back there. There are even air vents and charging ports for the rear seat area, something not found in all vehicles, let alone most two-doors.

The Defender 90 V8's cargo area is small, and there's a support beam that intrudes into the space.

The Defender 90 V8’s cargo area is small, and there’s a support beam that intrudes into the space.
(Fox Digital News)

The cargo area isn’t that impressive. There’s only enough for a couple of backpacks or small bags with the seats up, making the Defender 110 the best choice for a family car, if not an off-roader.


The Defender 90’s shorter wheelbase means it’s much easier to navigate tight trails and brings the tires closer together to improve its rock-crawling capabilities. A locking rear differential, low-range transfer case and traction management system with settings for every type imaginable deliver inscrutable capability across the board.

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Of course, the entry-level Defender 90 that’s powered by a 295-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and costs half this can handle the rough stuff just fine, as can a Defender 90 with the turbocharged six-cylinder from 395 hp optional. engine. But that’s not why you buy the V8.


It’s to deliver thrilling bursts of speed accompanied by the kind of thunderous soundtrack that makes you feel like a bad boy in a British action flick. The all-wheel drive system works well in this application, putting the power to the ground without tire spin, even when covered in gravel.

For pavement, there’s a full suite of electronic driver aids, including adaptive cruise control with automatic lane centering, and the cabin remains remarkably quiet for a sturdy, upright ride.

However, you may want to look away from the pump at the gas station, as the Defender 90 V8 is rated at just 16 mpg combined.

The question is how long it will take Land Rover to offer the V8 in the new extended-wheelbase Defender 130, which has three rows of seats and could put the power to good use to haul lots of people.


Base price: $109,375

Type: 2-Door 5-Passenger All-Wheel Drive SUV

Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8

Power: 518 hp, 461 lb-ft

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

MPG: 15 city/19 highway

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