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In-depth reviews

Land Rover Defender SUV - Reliability & safety

The Defender's reliability isn't known yet, but Land Rover has gone to extreme lengths to prove its strength

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Reliability & safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

There's always been an odd disparity between the Defender’s rugged looks and toughness and the brand’s poor reliability reputation. One reason for issues has been an ageing design, which certainly won't be the case with the new model.

Land Rover Defender reliability

The Defender’s body structure and technology are all-new compared with the old model, and the car has been developed with future-proofing in mind. It has also been tested to destruction, including more than 700,000 development miles and around 62,000 validation tests. These include 'Extreme Event' procedures that test for 'repeated and sustained impacts, above and beyond the normal standard for SUV and passenger cars.'

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Land Rover appears to be climbing the ranks in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. A solid improvement in 2022 saw the maker jump from 22nd to 14th in our brand rundown – a position it maintained for 2023. That’s a mid-table finish which puts it above premium rivals such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Although it’s a strong improvement, a whopping 42% of owners still reported a fault within the first 12 months, which is concerning.

The only individual model to feature in the list of the top 75 new cars was the smaller Land Rover Discovery Sport, which finished 49th. Owners loved the practicality and space – something likely to be true of the Defender, as well – but didn’t rate the high running costs or patchy build quality. We hope the Defender will feature in the 2023 survey to give us a better idea of real-world reliability.

Safety

Along with its tough frame, the Defender is fitted with an impressive amount of safety kit as standard. It all helped it achieve five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, making it even more desirable for families.

Technology including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and traffic-sign recognition is standard, while X-Dynamic SE adds blind-spot warnings and a rear traffic monitor, along with an ISOFIX point for the front passenger seat. Its strong rating gives the Defender a significant advantage over the Jeep Wrangler, which only scored one star in 2018 crash tests.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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