Test Drive: Three things to love about the Land Rover Defender V8

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Land Rover defender v8

Very few people use their vehicles to their fullest extent, but the number of Land Rover Defender owners in that category is likely shocking. The legendary off-road brand makes some of the most luxurious vehicles on the road (or off it), and the Defender blends the two worlds excellently. I recently had an opportunity to test the 2022 Land Rover Defender V8 and came away impressed. Here are three things to know about the muscle SUV.

The V8 engine is overkill in the best ways possible 

The Land Rover Defender V8 is more powerful than it needs to be, but that muscle is what makes it so much fun. The supercharged 5.0-liter V8 sends 518 horsepower to all four wheels and can propel the boxy SUV to 60 mph from a standstill in under five seconds. Land Rover claims a top speed of 149 mph and says the Defender V8 can tow 7,716 pounds. 

Putting your foot down delivers a wave of sound and power. The SUV leans back, not unlike a speedboat taking off, before leveling off into snarling acceleration. Land Rover’s smooth eight-speed automatic transmission channels the V8’s massive power to all four wheels without so much as a hiccup, and it never seems to be caught flat-footed. 

The Defender V8 still has Land Rover luxury and refinement

This is a Land Rover, after all, so you’ll get a good deal of luxury with your rugged off-roader. My test vehicle came with an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and soft leather upholstery that would almost make you believe you’re sitting in a Range Rover. There’s no removable roof or old-school manual transmission here like the Defenders of old, but in their place, Land Rover installed an enormous panoramic sunroof and neat skylights that brighten the cabin and make excellent stargazing windows for kids. 

Every Defender has a 10-inch infotainment screen that runs Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment system. It’s more responsive and easier to use than previous versions and is less distracting to use while driving. The touchscreen is joined by a digital gauge cluster and can be upgraded to an 11.4-inch display. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and six speakers also come standard. 

The Defender V8 is a capable off-roader

Sure, the Defender’s got leather and enough electronics to power a stealth bomber, but it’s also capable. Permanent all-wheel drive and a twin-speed transfer case help the SUV get up and over almost anything, and its 11.5 inches of ground clearance allows for a water fording depth of up to 35 inches. Land Rover installs coil springs by default, but adaptive, height-adjustable air suspension is available.

Whether or not you’ll actually take your six-figure SUV rock crawling or through a creek bed depends on your stomach for risk. Just know that the Defender is ready for almost anything you throw at it and will come out the other side. At the same time, it’s supremely comfortable on the road. Land Rover opted for unibody construction, similar to sedans and minivans, which gives the Defender excellent road manners and comfort. 

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