Sep 25, 2020 - Economy

What we're driving: The 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE

2020 Land Rover Defender. Photo: Nick Dimbleby/Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Defender. Photo: Nick Dimbleby/Land Rover

My latest ride is the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE, an SUV with a tough-looking stance for our times.

The big picture: The original Defender is a cult vehicle for off-road enthusiasts, having been sold in the U.S. for just four years in the mid-1990s. Now it's back, rounding out the Land Rover lineup.

Driving impressions: Though meant for serious off-roading, the Defender was surprisingly well-mannered on suburban streets near Detroit.

  • It's outfitted with premium technology, yet has a utilitarian feel with exposed rivets in the door panels and a magnesium beam that runs the width of the dashboard.

The Defender is pricey, though: It starts at $49,900, but the mid-level SE trim I drove is $62,250.

  • With optional packages including adaptive cruise control, a sliding panoramic roof, heated third-row seats and 20-inch wheels, the sticker price jumped to $77,775.
  • Then my car was also outfitted with a $4,800 Explorer accessory pack, which included a gearbox mounted to the rear passenger window, a snorkel (or raised air intake) to keep the engine clean and dry while off-roading, and a fold-up ladder to access the expedition roof rack.
  • That brought the drive-home price to $82,575.

The bottom line: It looked cool, but with all the extra equipment bolted to the car, it was next to impossible to see out the rear side windows.

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