Review: 2023 Land Rover Defender 130

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: February 21, 2023


The Defender is one of the most diverse models in the Land Rover lineup, available in a two-door layout (90 Series), a more traditional four-door spec (110 Series), and now an eight-passenger 130 Series model with an extended roofline, more trunk space, and better third-row accommodations.



Like the extended Cadillac Escalade ESV or Lexus RX L, the Defender 130 is 337 mm longer than the 110, the majority of that length added behind the rear axle, somewhat exaggerating the rear overhang. The Defender now looks like it’s wearing a loaded diaper, but it doesn’t seem to break its rounded and balanced proportions. It may appear ungainly from some viewing angles, but from the side in person, it looks handsome and utilitarian, like it could swallow up a whole soccer team and spit them out at the top of Mount Everest. It looks great in Sedona Red too, a deep and rich hue of dark red that matches well with the white exterior elements, a paint colour exclusive to the 130.



The interior design remains unchanged from the 110, except now there is no second-row skylight window, as to make way for a separate glass roof for the third row of seats, effectively adding a larger sense of airiness to the cabin. There’s a panoramic glass roof for the front two rows instead, and it does open.



Ingress into the third row of seats isn’t difficult. With the pull of a lever, the second row of seats will slide forward for a sizable entry portal, with steps on the floor to prevent slipping. Once situated inside, there is more than enough leg and headroom for my six-foot figure, though seat width for three adults is a tight squeeze. Children or small adults shouldn’t have a problem, and they will even enjoy their own armrests, cupholders, and USB charging ports. Of note, the smaller 110 Series does offer a third row of seats but it’s diminutive and pretty much just token seats for pets or small children - hardly usable for adults.



The only issue we have is that when all three rows of seats are up and occupied, there is very little trunk space available. Swing open the side-hinged tailgate and you will find a pretty limited compartment - just enough to stow two upright carry-on suitcases. This can be remedied by folding the third row of seats down, however, they won’t be flush and flat with the floor. And one curious omission from the 130 is the option for a three-seater front bench like in the 90 and 110 Defenders, which would bump up the seating capacity to nine, more than any other SUV on the market today.



The rest of the Defender cabin absolutely nails ergonomics and aesthetics. We love how like in the Mazda Miata, the body paint colour shows through on the inner door panels as part of the trim - Sedona Red really adds a nice splash of colour to the dark spec, as do the smoked oak veneer and the ceramic accents on the dashboard. The signal stalks have a more matted feel to them in this 2023 model, making them feel more expensive than the glossy plastic ones they replace. We also have no quarrels to report about the 11.4-inch touchscreen and its interface - it’s vibrant, high definition, and free from the lag and glitches that used to plague JLR products.



With added weight and dimension over the standard Defenders, it’s only logical that the 130 is solely paired with the more powerful P400 powertrain. For good reason, it’s a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six married with a mild hybrid system and an electrically-driven supercharger to eliminate turbo lag and ensure seamless transitions during stop-and-go procedures. Total output is 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, and the 130 will sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, five-tenths slower than an equivalent Defender 110 P400.



On the open road, the 130 does not feel much slower. It’s about 70 kg heavier but still remains lively under acceleration thanks to the engine’s quick pick-up and lack of turbo lag. It fails to exhibit any of the lethargy and hesitation that you would expect from a large SUV, and its long pedal travel means you can modulate and fine-tune your inputs with care. The 8-speed automatic is a pleasant companion and shifts behind the scenes with a polish not commonly found outside of the German IP. The brakes are linear and forgiving yet full of bite. While not essential, we think the 130 would be even better suited to a diesel option for maximum hauling range, or even a V8 option for those who have the need for speed.



Equipped with a standard four-wheel drive system, a two-speed transfer case, locking differentials, and an adaptive air suspension, the 130 is not only off-road capable but rides very nicely on suburban roads. It wafts around and neutralizes road oscillations better than any pick-up truck on the market thanks to its independent suspension and unibody construction. Body roll is effectively kept in check and while there is obvious leaning and unwieldiness when you enter a corner at speed, the quick steering rack makes it easy to control and navigate through tight spaces. In fact, we did not find it any more difficult to drive than the 110, though, for an SUV of this size, we wouldn’t mind some rear-wheel steering to shrink down its maneuverable footprint.



We averaged 15.1 L/100km over an equal mix of both city and highway driving, which is superior to the 110 V8 which yielded 17.1 L/100km. Surprisingly though, our 15.1 is the same that we achieved with the 110 with the same six-cylinder engine, both driven in similar snowy conditions. The four-cylinder powered P300 110 got 14.9 L/100km. So while the driver and conditions may vary, aside from the V8, the Defenders all seem to average about the same and shouldn’t be a major deciding factor in the engine or choice of body spec.



So far, we’ve adored every variant of the Land Rover Defender, from the quirky two-door 90 Series to the obnoxious V8-powered 110. The largest 130 remains no exception, hauling eight passengers in style, off-road ruggedness, and supple ride quality. Now, there’s a Defender for everyone.


Photo Gallery:












Model: 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition

Paint Type: Sedona Red
Base Price: $100,850

Price as Tested: $105,430
Wheelbase(mm): 3,022
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,099 / 2,008 / 1,970

Curb weight (kg): 2,527
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six
Horsepower: 395 hp @ 5,500 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 2,000 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 15.1

Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Winter; 20-inch





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