The 2021 Land Rover Defender, while only the second model year for the off-road-oriented SUV, marks a number of important developments. The most significant of which won't be offered in the U.S., at least for the time being: a plug-in hybrid and a new diesel inline-six. But the U.S. is finally getting the two-door Defender 90, which is the cheapest way to get into the stylish Land Rover.
The Defender PHEV arrives on the heels of the newly hybridized Jeep Wrangler. While the Wrangler 4xe's 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque are impressive, the Defender manages to slightly outgun it with 398 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. Land Rover claims it can do the 0-60 mph run a little quicker than the Jeep at 5.4 seconds rather than 6. It also boasts a 6,600-pound towing capacity, a little less than twice that of the Jeep. The hybrid combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 140-horsepower electric motor, which is sandwiched between the engine and transmission. The Defender PHEV retains its two-speed transfer case. A 19.1-kWh battery pack allows it to go a claimed 27 miles on a charge, and the Land Rover supports DC fast charging. Like the Wrangler, the hybrid powertrain is only available on the four-door variant.
The other big powertrain update is the addition of six-cylinder diesel engines. The base D200 makes 197 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The D250 makes 247 horsepower and 420 pound-feet. The top-end D300 makes 296 horsepower and 479 pound-feet. Land Rover says this version will hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
Unfortunately, none of these powertrains will be offered in the U.S., at least for now. Land Rover representatives confirmed this, but wouldn't comment on whether that's just the case for this model year, or if the Defender will stick with conventional gas engines for the next few years. We're a bit surprised the PHEV isn't being offered considering the aforementioned Wrangler 4xe is going on sale next year, and the fact that the same powertrain is available in the Range Rover PHEV.
The good news is that the short-wheelbase Defender 90 is going on sale in the U.S. this model year. It will also be the most affordable way to get a Defender, with a base price of $47,450, whereas the base Defender 110 starts at $51,850. That will get you the base trim level with the turbocharged 2.0-liter 296-horsepower four-cylinder. Also available are X-Dynamic, First Edition and X trims, all of which get the turbocharged 3.0-liter 395-horsepower six-cylinder.
The X-Dynamic trim is a new trim available on both the 90 and 110, and will be available in the States. It borrows some visual elements from the top level X model such as the gloss black wheel arch cladding and darker grille and bumper skid plates. It also represents the cheapest six-cylinder option for both the 90 and 110 bodystyles. The 90 X-Dynamic starts at $59,150, and the 110 X-Dynamic starts at $66,850.