Land Rover Defender Overland Profile

The Land Rover Defender is steeped in history. The Defenders’ origins date back to 1948 when the Series I model was introduced. Land Rover has gone from strength to strength since then. 

The Defender we all know and love today portrays an iconic image of an off-road vehicle.

Some might argue that a Land Rover was the first vehicle to partake in an overland adventure when Colonel LeBlanc took his brand new Series 1 from the UK to Abyssinia. 

Further famous overland journeys have been made in Land Rovers, such as the famous UK – Singapore trip made by a group of students in 1955 in two 86 inch series I models.

The 1983 – 2012 Defender models are by far the most popular and arguably the most capable overland vehicles of all the Defender models.

Models

ModelYearsEngineBHPTorque (lb-ft)MPG (city/hwy)
200 TDI1990-19942495cc107 @ 3800 RPM188 @ 1800 RPM20 / 27
300 TDI1994-19902495cc111 @ 4000 RPM195 @ 1800 RPM28 / 34
TD51998-20062495cc122 @ 4000 RPM221 @ 1950 RPM26 / 28
TDCI 2.42006-20112401cc122 @ 3500 RPM265 @ 2000 RPM24 / 28
TDCI 2.22011-20162401cc122 @ 3500 RPM265 @ 200 RPM25 / 28
110 NAS1992-19933.9 EFI V8180 @ 4750 RPM227 @ 3500 RPM10 / 12
90 NAS1994-19973.9 EFI V8182 @ 4750 RPM232 @ 3100 RPM13 / 16

Costs

★★☆☆☆

The high cost of ownership quickly shadows the many benefits of owning a Defender for overlanding. This is especially true for North American buyers, where the cost of purchasing a Defender is usually many times more than in Europe.

Purchasing costs

On average, you should expect to pay between $30,000-$70,000 for a maintained Defender. Many Defender owners are resorting to importing Defenders from Europe, where the average purchase cost is much less at $15,000-$50,000. However, there are import fees to consider, and most of these buyers are purchasing the vehicle without seeing it first.

If you have a large budget, companies like East Coast Defenders, Arkonic, and Helderburg fully restore Defenders to impeccable condition. A vehicle from one of these companies will set you back a whopping $100,000 on the low side, with prices going as high as $200,000

Running Costs

The good news is that once you paid the high price tag of purchasing a Defender, the cost of ownership generally isn’t that high- This is providing your Defender is in good condition throughout.

If your vehicle is in poor condition, the cost of ownership could be almost as much as buying another Defender. Things such as the chassis and bulkhead are some of the higher costs that could run you about $5000 each. 

Fuel economy for a Defender is pretty good; this is especially true of the diesel models where you can expect on average 30 MPG. 

Reliability

★★★☆☆

As far as reliability with a Defender, it’s hit and miss. Generally, the Defender would be considered reliable if maintained properly. The biggest failure to Defenders is rust. Rust can quickly eat through the chassis and bulkhead of a Defender. On my Defender, I put a Galvanized chassis to prevent this.

Defender engines are pretty solid. However, some of them we’re known to have cylinder head issues. Again this can be solved by upgrading to an AMC cylinder head.

One of the greatest things the Defender has going for it is its simplicity. This vehicle was designed so that should something break in it, it can be repaired at the side of the road. This is one of its greatest assets for overlanding, as when you’re in remote areas, it’s not likely to have a mechanic or special equipment around.

Parts

★★★★☆

Accessibility

There are many shops dedicated to supplying products and parts solely for Land Rovers. There are also big companies like Britpart who manufacture parts just for Land Rovers.

Many people who travel globally with their Defenders claim they never had any difficulty finding parts for their Defender. If the parts they are after we’re not available in the country at the time, companies from the UK could usually have parts delivered within a week.

Another benefit of the Defender is that many parts are shared with the DIscovery leading to a wider range of accessibility.

Aftermarket upgrades

Most aftermarket manufacturers of of-road and overlanding parts cater to the Land Rover Defender, although, it would not be as popular as the Jeep Wrangler in that respect.

Manufacturers of off-road appliances like lockers, roof racks, lighting, suspension, etc., all cater to the Defender, so finding parts or accessories for kitting out your rig would not be difficult with a Defender.

Storage

★★★★☆

The Defender shines here again with oodles of storage, both inside the vehicle and outside in areas like the engine bay where you can easily add accessories like a compressor or underneath where you can add extra water tanks or fuel tanks.

90

Overall Length146.5”
Overall Width70.5”
Wheelbase92.1”
Unladen Height77.3 – 77.6”
Unladen Weight4123 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight5622 lbs

110

Overall Length175 – 184”
Overall Width70.5”
Wheelbase110”
Unladen Height80.1”
Unladen Weight4815 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight6845 lbs

130

Overall Length198”
Overall Width70.5”
Wheelbase127”
Unladen Height80.1”
Unladen Weight4668 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight7717 lbs

Comfort

★★★☆☆

Comfort is an important aspect with overlanding. Many times you will be sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time and it’s important as a driver to not get fatigued due to the lack of comfort.

The Land Rover Defender scores moderatly in this category. Tall drivers may find that they don’t have enough leg room, however, it is possible to upgrade the seat rails to increase leg room. Smaller drivers may claim that the gear stick is too far away.

Another common complaint is the lack of arm space and you may find yourself sitting very close to the door.

Overall the seating position is very comfortable and the height is as nice addition.

Off-Road

★★★★★

Basis90110130
Break-over Angle (°)312928
Approach Angle (°)383835
Departure Angle (°)404021
Min. Ground Clearance (inch)8.910.912.4

The Defender really finds itself at home off-road. It’s a more than capable rig for tackling some of the toughest terrains. With a standard Defender, you would be more than ready to tackle most overlanding terrain. 

Land Rover Defenders’ have been portrayed as the ultimate off-road vehicle for years. The camel trophy, which is like the ultimate off-road challenge, has really helped boost the Defenders’ stature as the king of off-road vehicles.

However, if you wanted to up the ante and tackle more challenging overland terrain, the Defender is easily modified; you can add Air Lockers, upgrade the suspension, remapping, etc. In fact, most parts of a Defender can be upgraded.

The central locking differential is a huge contributor to the Defenders’ off-road prowess. Pair this with its renowned torque of 360nm, its axle ground clearance of 250mm, and its maximum gradient climb and descent of 45 degrees, and you have yourself an unstoppable off-road machine.

Defender Overland Build Example

Equipment

  • Roof Rack: Front Runner Slimline II roof rack
  • Tent: Front Runner roof top tent
  • Fridge: ARB Zero fridge freezer
  • Compressor: ARB High Performance twin air compressor
  • Water Storage: Font Runner water tank 42L

Drivetrain

  • Tires: Toyo Open Country 255/85/R16
  • Wheels: Hutchinson Rock Monster bead lock
  • suspension: OME BP51 & 2″ heavy duty coils
  • Differential Rear: ARB Air Locker
  • Differential Front: Quaife ATB
  • Differential Center Ashcroft center locking diff

Armor

  • Bumper: ARB Deluxe winch bumper
  • Rear Bumper: Swing away
  • Rock Slider: Masai 4×4 Rock Sliders

Recovery

  • Recovery Boards: Two pairs MAXTRAX MKII
  • Winch: Warn 89611 Zeon 10-S
  • Jack: HI-Lift Jack
  • Shovel: Hi-Lift Handle All 500
  • Recovery Kit: Warn Heavy-Duty Epic recovery kit
  • Tire Deflator: Staun Automatic Deflators
  • Tire Repair:Slime Tire Repair kit

Lighting

  • Light Bar: Osram LED Lightbar SX50-cb
  • Rock Lights: TRX4 Defender Rock Light Set
  • Reverse Lights: Nolden LED Reversing Lights
  • Camp Lights: Labcraft LED Scenelite (SI6)
  • Interior Lights: Sxlofty Car LED Strip Lights

Electrical

  • Power: Generac iQ2000 – 2000 Watt Ultra Quiet Inverter
  • Solar: Basic Panther Off-Grid Solar Panel Package
  • Battery: Odyssey PC925 Battery

Conclusion

The Land Rover Defender is the poster child of overlanding. It was one of the first vehicles to make an overlanding trip and many still roam the world today as full time overland vehicles.

The drawback with the Defender is the huge price tag that is only going to increase year on year because of its iconic image.

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