Land Rover Defender 100 SE: Big Guy with a Light Touch

The Land Rover Defender 110 SE is like a pro linebacker. It’s big, imposing, clunky and looks mean but surprises because it is agile, moves with finesse and is surprisingly responsive. Yes, it’s tall (77.4 inches), weighs more than 4,800 pounds and has enough power to tow more than 8,000 pounds.
   But it drives like a compact. The ride is smooth, the steering is easy and light thanks to electronic power assisted steering rack and pinion and, with 395 horsepower, can go from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. This 8-speed transmission SUV can fly! You also feel like queen of the road as it is high and wide windows to give you the overall view of the road. You never feel like you’re riding a beast; instead it feels as if you’re on the back of a butterfly. That may seem a bit overly dramatic, but when we climbed into the front seat (and honestly we had to do a little bit of a jump to get it), we dreaded going though narrow streets, parking and going around turns. By the time we floated over the first speed bump, we knew we were driving something special — and we are! Thank you air suspension. In terms of fuel economy, it’s 19 combined with 17 in the city and 22 on the highway. Overall it gets 5.3 gallons per 100 miles.
   Helping maneuver this big boy are a lot of driver assistance features including blind spot assist pack, 3D surround camera, 360-degree parking aid, wade sensing, cruise control and speed limiter and emergency braking. Wade sensing isn’t for every day driving but it is vital if you are suddenly traversing through a stream or high water; it will tell you how deep the water is and let you know if your SUV can get to the other side safely. This is perfect for when you are in the great outdoors crossing streams as well as weather emergencies such as rapidly rising flood waters. One might think that it’s not needed, but boy, when you need it, it’s great to have!
    The Defender is all muscle on the outside and a big ole softy on the inside. First off, it’s comfortable and tastefully designed. There is plenty of storage space, including a large area hidden behind the 10-inch touchscreen.  Again, the interior is akin to other luxury SUVs with beautiful leather and contrasting trim. It looked like an urban loft. Bolts were exposed on the doors and it looked sparse and unrefined, but in fact, it was not. It was artfully designed to look unfinished, masculine and minimalistic.
   We loved the simple and interactive screen, especially when you can have all of your saved stations up at once so you can easily poke to get the station you want. And, even better, the station would note what song was being played so you could go from the Beatles channel over to the 60s channel because you prefer “California Dreamin’ over “Hey Jude.” It doesn’t sound like a lot but we loved it! The SUV is full of intuitive technologies tht ensure convention, connectivity and visibility.
   Other comforts include two-zone climate control, ClearSight interior rear view mirror, 10-inch PIVI Pro, Connected Navigation Pro, and power adjustable grained leather and Robert Woven Textile seat facings seats with lumbar and memory in the front.
   While the front seats were big and firm, the back two rows worked well with a 40:20:40 split fold rear seats. When the third row was down, there was plenty of room for groceries. For those in the back seat, there is plenty of room with a little less for those in the third row. For the front row there’s 40.6 inches of headroom with 38.6 inches in the second row. Those needing to stretch their legs have ample room with 29.6 inches in the front and 36.6 inches in the back.
   We didn’t take the Defender off road but it seems it has tremendous capabilities including hill 
descent controls, Terrain Response® with selectable driving and off-road modes.
   The sticker price for the Defender 110 SE starts at $62,500; ours had option equipment such as cold climate pack, advanced off-cold capability pack and comfort and convenience pack, which brought the price up to $71,000.

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