The off-road-ready Land Rover Defender returned to America in 2020 for the first time in more than two decades. For 2021, the four-door 110 model was joined by the two-door Defender 90. The latter’s shorter length might hurt utility and interior space, but it also makes the 90 slightly more nimble and capable off-road. We recently tested the Defender 90 in P400 spec, which uses an inline-six gasoline engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged.
While the Defender and its rivals are of course highly capable off-road, the truth is most of their lives will be spent driving on city streets, where passing power is more important than breakover angles or selectable low-range gearing. That’s especially relevant to a luxury automaker like Land Rover, as expectations rise along with the price tag.
So how did the Defender 90 P400 fare in the unnatural habitat of our test track? Let’s run the numbers.
How does the Defender 90 perform?
In P400 trim, the 2021 Land Rover Defender 90 is equipped with a turbocharged and supercharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine making 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That’s considerably more power than the Ford Bronco V6 (330 hp) and the Jeep Wrangler V6 (285 hp). All Defenders come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel drive and selectable low-range gearing. Notably, we’ve yet to test the V8-powered P525 variant, which is new for the 2022 Defender lineup.
At Edmunds’ test track, our 2021 Defender 90 P400 went from zero to 60 in just 6.2 seconds, making it one of the quickest off-roaders we’ve ever tested and putting it a half-second clear of both its four-door sibling and the two-door Ford Bronco V6. It’s also a healthy 1.1 seconds clear of the V6-powered Jeep Wrangler. (The V8-powered Wrangler 392 is in a different league at 4.7 seconds to 60, while the 375-hp Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid still trails the Defender 90 P400 by 0.8 second.)
The Defender’s extra power clearly helps make up for its significant weight penalty. Take a look at the table below to see just how hefty the Land Rovers are compared to the Ford and Jeep. Similarly, the Defender’s brakes perform well given the mass they’re tasked with slowing. The Defender 90 P400 stops from 60 mph in 133 feet, right on par with its rivals.