Mountain Wheels: Land Rover’s longer Defender 110 reimagines the iconic model |

Mountain Wheels: Land Rover’s longer Defender 110 reimagines the iconic model

A hyper-rugged adventure vehicle with urban charms, the accomplished Land Rover Defender 110 provides a more solid ride and additional room.
Land Rover/Courtesy photo

As car production and supply chain problems continue to be a big deal in the auto industry, it’s always exciting to get to see a vehicle that is a total rarity in the real world.

Well, almost. I just got a week in the extended wheel base model of the new Land Rover Defender, Motor Trend’s SUV of the year in 2021, and I’ll admit there are a few of them out there already.

What was more unusual during my Sunday drive up to Estes Park and down through Jamestown, north of Boulder, was parking next to a new hard-top, four-door Ford Bronco, a vehicle I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen in real life. Driving one may be even more elusive, frankly, given the monthslong delays in the car’s journey to consumers.

But I can tell you that the large and exceptionally style-conscious Defender is similar but still a little smaller than the hulking Bronco. Both feature fixed spares on their rear doors — the Defender’s rear aspect being the most absolute squared-off right angle found in any contemporary vehicle — and both have been created as modernized renditions of first-generation 4x4s, with more modern gadgetry than imaginable.

In the meantime, I think you can get a Defender a little more easily, and at an actually reasonable-sounding $69,195 for a Fuji White-colored SE model with the 395-horsepower, 3.0-liter partially-hybrid engine, that’s much less than I expected. It’s also far lower than the ridiculous markups some out-of-state dealers are charging for the Broncos they magically have for sale.

Ride is unbelievably solid, I must let you know, which means not so fun on broken, in-town pavement and potholes, but it is deliriously solid on the highway.

And yes, Land Rover’s reputation kind of depends on the era you reference. Those early days of 1940s and ’50s hyper-boxy, safari-worthy Land Rovers on thin tractor tires are certainly the underlying theme here, though the weighty look to the body and the exceptionally impactful, multilayered face are more like Land Rovers and Range Rovers of a more recent vintage.

Those have tended to be aimed at non-dirt-driving customers, monarchs and that kind of crowd. The Slovakian-built Defender is unbelievably capable in off-road settings and equipped with around-view cameras and self-propelling, rock-climbing settings and equipment that rival even a Wrangler — which, you’ll notice, often costs about this amount of money anyway and certainly is not a slightly unusual, super-cool, foreign-built, retro-futuristic 4×4 SUV.

I will leave the day-to-day driving decisions to owners, but it would suffice to say that the Defender will certainly strike a pose if it is found on mountain trails this summer.

I had a short-wheelbase Defender about a year ago, but this model is 197.6 inches long, including the prominent spare, versus the 180.4 inch length of the 90 model. The very active air suspension system, which you’ll often feel readjusting the vehicle when it comes to a rest, allows Defender 110 a very impressive 11.5 inches of ground clearance. You can even adjust the height through cabin controls or even switches in the rear cargo area to help with loading.

That extra real estate does allow for a third-row configuration. Mine only had two rows, plus an ample cargo hold covered in rugged, steel plate-styled plastic surfaces (seatbacks, too), plus a super-contoured cargo mat, atop a decklid revealing some additional cargo space. The skylights in the rear ceiling are a cool feature, and those odd panels on the side windows are indeed removable and used as anchor points when you inevitably upgrade to the range of expedition-styled rooftop cargo systems.

As noted with last year’s 90 model, the interior is an ultra-futuristic blend of sparse European design, intense practicality and … yes, still quite luxurious, at the same time. Even the five-colored doors are surrounded by outlines with hex bolts that look like you ought to be able to take them off, Jeep style (no, you can’t) or possibly eject them, Apollo Command Capsule style.

That Ikea-meets-Playmobile moon buggy look also includes open arches for the center console, an open dash concept and more hex bolts — all great for incredible amounts of gear, or perhaps hosing the whole thing down after too much dirt-roading with the windows open. Even the steering wheel and the sharply upright gear knob are pure 1970s sci-fi in design.

And while Range Rovers and practically every other vehicle emphasize a literal wall of video screens, here they’re small, utilitarian and probably easily silenced. There are still a zillion functionalities, but even the AC and off-road controls and steering wheel controls are minimalistic, and completely invisible, when the vehicle is off. You are able to switch modes on the AC knobs and buttons to access more features.

Andy Stonehouse

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