Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Uncluttered, easy to use dashboard
  • Sharp, responsive infotainment system
  • Great all-round visibility

How is the quality and layout?

Inside, the Defender 90 shares its dashboard layout with the larger 110 – this is a good thing. It looks and feels practical with a multitude of slots and cubbies for all of your belongings without feeling unnecessarily bleak or agricultural.

Various finish options add a dash of colour and feel a bit more luxurious, such as white painted steering wheel spokes, two-tone leather and wood veneers, if that’s the kind of look you’re after.

Most of the interior plastics for buttons and switches feel of a good quality and operate in a reassuringly robust manner – it’s only really the flimsier materials around the air vents on top of the dash that feel cheap on a car of this price.

2021 Land Rover Defender 90 PiviPro multimedia system and gear lever

Infotainment and tech

Ahead of the driver, the 12.3-inch instrument display is clear, as is the head-up display when fitted – the graphics certainly look sharper than we’ve experienced in other recent JLR cars.

Controlling the infotainment is a new 10.0-inch package called Pivi Pro. Although the interface looks similar to Land Rover’s old infotainment system, it has much sharper graphics and is far more responsive to your commands. Naturally, it’s compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.

The menus are simple to navigate through, but our test car did randomly choose to wipe our saved radio stations at one point during our time of testing, which is a little odd.

Excellent vantage point

From the driver’s seat you have a commanding view of your surroundings, while also being very aware of the Defender 90’s perpendicular extremities, making it easy to place on the road.

Its significant girth makes parking in tighter urban confines or traversing tricky off-road routes nail-biting at times, though, so Land Rover’s provided a suite of exterior cameras to help you out.

2021 Land Rover Defender 90 dashboard

A pair of cameras pointing down from the door mirrors show where the front wheels are, while the ClearSight Rear View shows what’s going on behind without being impinged by the spare wheel or narrow window aperture.

Even more impressive is the ClearView system for the front: displaying on theinfotainment screen, it makes the bonnet appear invisible, further enabling you to move the Defender with pinpoint accuracy.

Is it comfortable?

  • Lots of space for passengers front and rear
  • Can feel claustrophobic in the back depending on options
  • Air suspension and opening roofs worth considering

For five people, the Defender 90 is a comfy SUV in which to soak up long on-road journeys or more adventurous ones off the beaten track.

Combined with the air suspension package – standard on the 90 X, optional on all others, but something we’d recommend going for – the cushioning effect is appreciable, without making the ride quality wallowy or nausea-inducing.

Although you do feel surface imperfections a little, larger bumps are dealt with comfortably, while road noise is well isolated against – even with the chunkier off-road tyre option (below), you don’t hear any additional roar filtering into the cabin.

Wind noise is kept to a minimum around the windscreen pillars and even though the initial 2.0-litre diesel engines generated little more than a low-frequency rumble, the six-cylinder engines that replaced it are incredibly hushed. You barely hear them when idling and even when worked hard you only notice a subtle artificial note piped into the cabin. This is a genuinely peaceful place to travel in.

The front seats have a wide range of adjustment and are both comfortable and supportive whether you’re negotiating a steep incline or the M25 on a grim Monday morning, but the optional middle jump seat is more compromised. It’s rather narrow and much higher than the ones either side.

2021 Land Rover Defender 90 front seats

You have to be of slender build and not especially tall to fit into it and have space for your legs – small adults and younger kids are best suited to it – but depending on your family’s needs it could prove useful to have for occasional use. It’s also set back compared with the driver’s seat, so theoretically there shouldn’t be any shoulder rubbing if it’s occupied.

Roomy in the back, but daylight could be at a premium

As mentioned previously, there’s an enormous amount of rear legroom for Defender 90 passengers which, combined with the flat roof, ensures that taller occupants will be comfy as there’s plenty of headroom.

When in standard form, the side windows provide an uninterrupted view of the outdoors, amplified by the slim Alpine windows above, mounted where the roof joins the body.

However, when the side-mounted gear carriers are fitted along with the body-coloured square decor panels that mimic the ones that feature on all 110s, it feels very dark in the back. Ensure you sample both before you sign on the dotted line.

Defender 90s in HSE and X specifications also come with a panoramic roof, the front panel of which opens. This is optional on less expensive trim levels, while all versions can be fitted with an electrically operated fabric roof. It’s not a full convertible, rather the material concertinas towards the rear of the car making it feel much more open, further heightened when off-roading and you can hear mud squelching and branches snapping as you progress.

When it’s closed, the interior remains just as dark as the standard models with a metal roof, but you can make the most of driving with it open at most speeds, with just a minor degree of buffeting on the motorway.

Those in the back have their own air vents, but not much else. In fact, our main gripe towards the Defender’s comfort levels are limited to the ventilation system, which seemed a little weak even on its highest fan speed setting.