2024 Land Rover Defender 130 X-Dynamic SE Tested

Updated on Dec 29, 2023

If you’re in the market for a practical luxury SUV that happens to offer class-leading off-road capability, then the 2024 Land Rover Defender 130 X-Dynamic SE is the perfect SUV for you. This dynamic luxury cruiser gives customers a unique blend of genuine off-road capability wrapped in a daily driver-friendly package. No other SUV on the road today can match the Defender when it comes to luxury off-roading. 

Our test truck was the largest Defender 130, which offers three rows of seating with a capacity for eight occupants. This increase in size means you can take along even more family members on off-road adventures. Thankfully, the Defender remains an easy SUV to daily drive and park despite its increase in length. The 2024 Land Rover Defender 130 X-Dynamic SE is a practical luxury SUV that can take your family just about anywhere you dare to drive. The Land Rover Defender injects personality and unique features to stand out from other more generic luxury SUVs.

Tech Packed Engine and Smooth Transmission

The 2024 Land Rover Defender is powered by a twin-charged 3.0-liter straight-6 engine with a few tricks up its sleeve. The Ingenium inline-6 uses an electric supercharger that is powered by the Defender’s 48-Volt mild-hybrid system. Total system output is rated at 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The electric supercharger removes turbo-lag and fills in the lower part of the rev range. As the revs rise, the electric supercharger hands off the boost to a traditional turbocharger that is now up to speed and ready to provide boost. This setup allows for a very responsive engine setup that is smooth off the line and very linear in power delivery. 

To further support low-end power, the Defender also uses a mild hybrid setup. A small electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and the 8-speed automatic transmission. This electric motor delivers 100 lb-ft of torque and helps the Defender accelerate from a stop. 

All Land Rover Defenders use a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission, which is easily the best transmission for the job. Shifts are quick and seamless driving both normal and more spirited driving. The transmission also easily handles this complex powertrain and delivers an engaging but comfortable driving experience. 

Although this powertrain seems complex, in practice power delivery was very smooth and predictable. The Defender’s auto stop-start system wasn’t the slickest we’ve felt and could use some refinement but overall, it’s an impressive package.

Class Leading Off-Road Tech

The Land Rover Defender is an off-roader legend and this new generation has decades of heritage to live up to. For this new generation, Land Rover reimagined what a Defender could be; working their magic to retain its off-road capability while adding comfort and luxury to make it a great daily driver. The result is an SUV that you’ll be happy to drive every day, and wouldn’t hesitate to take off-road. This focus on true off-road capability helps the Defender stand out in the cookie-cutter luxury SUV market and stand out in this crowded market segment. 

Off-roading means far more than just a simple drive mode to the engineers at Land Rover. The Defender is Land Rover’s strongest unibody SUV ever. To handle the abuse of off-roading, the Defender uses forged steel subframes, larger aluminum control arms for the dual-wishbone front suspension, and a host of skid plates. This strengthened platform is ready to take on the challenges of off-road trails thanks to its focused construction and hardware additions. 

The Land Rover Defender offers a unique driving experience that makes it stand out in the luxury SUV marketplace. The seat position is higher than any other Land Rover product and drivers more like a well-tuned truck rather than a performance SUV. The Defender isn’t trying to be a sports car like other luxury SUVs, it’s unapologetic about its more truck-like driving experience in the name of off-road capability. 

The Land Rover Defender uses Air Suspension and Adaptive Dampers to give the Defender a wider range of capabilities. These dynamic systems allow the Defender to be comfortable and controlled during on-road driving, while also changing to better suit off-road situations. When changing drive modes, the air suspension reacts by raising and lowering the Defender’s ride height to match the needs of the situation. The ride height can also be independently controlled by buttons in the center stack. This system is far more than just a party trick and is a critical addition to expanding the range of use for the Land Rover Defender. We found the on-road ride quality to be exceptional with a great deal of comfort and control. This ride quality sets the Defender apart from less refined off-road SUV competition. 

Impressive Interior Features

The interior of the Land Rover Defender is a unique mix of quality luxury touches, industrial off-road trim, and durable materials to create a very unique space. There are luxury materials where you want them like the leather-wrapped steering wheel and seats and then interesting additions like ruggedized plastics and exposed rivets. This fascinating interior space gives the Defender personality without feeling forced or fake. In our experience, we found the mix of physical controls and ultra-high-quality screens led to a very easy and pleasing user experience.

The Land Rover Defender offers a refined and comfortable interior that’s a far nicer place to be than other off-road-focused SUVs. The attention to detail and use of quality controls with interesting materials is the Defender’s true party piece. In the interior, you’ll find exposed rivets and hardware, rugged rubber trim, and plastic buttons. All of these trimmings make for a usable interior that can handle the dirt and grime associated with off-roading or driving around a car full of small children. This unapologetic interior never feels cheap, instead, it’s the focus on the Defender’s mission of off-road capability that shines through. 

Outside of the interesting interior materials, the Defender offers a unique blend of touch screens and physical controls. We found the Defender’s user interface to be one of the friendliest setups of any modern performance SUV. Land Rover did a great job of keeping physical controls where you want them. The Defenders screens are used for things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Land Rover’s easy-to-use user interface. You don’t have to worry about menu jumping to control the Defender’s HVAC or selecting a drive mode since these common functions are controlled by buttons. 

The screen quality is top-of-the-line and you’ll wish your TV at home looked this good. Both the center touch screen and digital gauge cluster are some of the best-looking screens in the auto industry today. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will most likely dominate the experience for most customers, however, if you choose to use the Land Rover interface, you’re greeted by a beautiful interface that’s very easy to use. You have the option to code a shortcut to a custom button on the steering wheel and you can easily access parking cameras with shortcuts on the screen. 


The Land Rover Defender is an impressive SUV that offers class-leading off-road capability in a luxurious package. The Defender stands out from the cookie-cutter world of luxury SUVs and delivers a unique driving experience without compromising daily capability. The added capability and off-road durability work to make the Defender an even better daily driver that’s tough enough to handle a car full of dogs or children. The best part is that you can drive a car full of people in complete comfort down some of the toughest off-road trails you can find and that’s what makes the Defender a truly special vehicle.

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