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Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016)

Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016) Classic and Performance Car
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
The Land Rover Defender is the modern incarnation of the classic rugged utilitarian vehicle that made the company what it is today. While the Defender as we know it was launched in 1991, it was just an evolution of the original Land Rover – with lineage stretching back as far as 1948. When the final Defender rolled off the line in 2016, it genuinely was the end of an era. 
 
For now, the Land Rover Defender remains without a rugged utilitarian replacement from Land Rover, which means demand for the Defender remains particularly high. It’s easy to fall for the simple charms of a Defender, too. Look at one objectively, and it’s slow, noisy, uncomfortable and extremely cramped – but it’s all these things that somehow make it such an event each time you set off down the road.
 
Which one to buy? 
 
The Defender model was introduced in 1991 and was similar to the outgoing Ninety and One Ten, but powered by the new 200Tdi engine. The Tdi motor was based around the old 2.5-litre turbo with a new aluminium cylinder head, turbo, intercooler and direct injection fuelling. 
 
The later 300Tdi engine was similar. The Defenders were known by their wheelbases of 90 and 110, and the 127-inch became known as the 130 and was built on a dedicated chassis rather than the modified One Ten chassis which had been used on the earlier 127. 
 
Both Tdi engines are highly respected as dependable non-electronic power units, giving higher speed cruising over the Ninety/One Ten mills. Plenty of new and used parts available at good prices, and construction is still simple, though engines are more complex than earlier types. Lots of modification and upgrade kit is available. 
 
The five-cylinder Td5 engine was the last diesel to be designed and built in-house by Land Rover. It was sophisticated and relatively complex, featuring electronic unit fuel injectors. Its electronic engine management was received with suspicion, risking the Defender’s ‘fix it anywhere’ reputation. Td5s are now the most prolific Defenders on the road, testimony to the engine’s long-term reliability, and offering plenty of buying choices. 
 
The Td5 engine gives a significant performance improvement over the Tdi and can be slightly better on fuel. Long-lasting engine, given correct maintenance and proper use. Electronic engine management allows tuning options. Plenty of special models to search for, including Tomb Raiders, SVX and Defender Black. Top end Td5s have high trim levels, electronic traction control and air conditioning. 
 
The 2007-on TDCi is powered by Ford’s Duratorq engines, albeit with lubrication and sealing improvements to cope with Defender’s special duties. Initially a 2.4-litre, followed by the greener 2.2-litre, though both have the same performance output using a variable geometry turbocharger and delivering the business via a six-speed manual gearbox. 
 
Body options include 90 and 110 hard tops and station wagons, 2-door pick-ups and 4-door double-cab pick-ups. The 130 remains in the line-up. The 110 utility wagon is an ideal combination with full four-door access plus the conventional van load space at the rear. Prices are holding strongly and are likely to continue that way. Bespoke versions by specialist builders are increasingly popular and becoming abundant on the used market. 
 
This is the sophisticated Defender. Improved ride, comfort, heating, forward-facing rear seats, a more comprehensive dashboard and an engine with long term reliability if it is serviced properly. Plenty of tuning and customizing options from independent suppliers. Top of the range models will replace the family car, and go anywhere in the world. 
 
Sadly, this model does not have the bulkhead vent flaps which are so distinctive a part of the Defender brand. Happily, this ultimate evolution of Defender is as perfect as it gets. 
 
Performance and specs
 
Land Rover Defender 90 TDCI
Engine 2198cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel 
Power 122bhp @ 3500rpm 
Torque 265lb ft @ 2000rpm
Top speed 90mph
0-60mph 14.7seconds 
Fuel consumption 28.3mpg 
CO2 emissions 266g/km
Insurance group 12
Gearbox Six-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2360mm
Length 4040mm
Width 1790mm
Height 2182mm
Weight 1889kg
 
Common problems
 
• The Tdi Defenders are now elderly and many have covered high mileages. Examples that have been well maintained and used properly should last well, but many are hacked, have towed or been off-roaded hard, and some are modified badly. 
 
• Check for engine smoke and crankcase pressure when lifting the oil cap, all of which suggests a worn engine, though they’ll run a long time like this. Check all the transmission controls work, including diff lock and low range, and beware of excessive play in the rear diff above the normal driveline slop. 
 
• Chassis corrosion is still an issue, though late models fare better, but still check every inch with a screwdriver or tapping hammer. Expect to find aluminium corrosion spots on the doors, and on the lower body panels where corrosion is often hidden behind chequer plate. 
 
• Bulkheads are more corrosion resistant on TD5 and later models, and the chassis is improved. Holes can still appear anywhere, so check all of the chassis. 
 
• Chassis and bulkhead corrosion can be terminal, at least for those components, rather than the whole vehicle. 
 
• Some 200Tdi engine parts, including cylinder heads, are becoming difficult to source. Low security means a good one might get nicked. 
 
• On Td5 models, listen for whistling from the engine under load, which may be a warped exhaust manifold or broken studs. 
 
• Misfire from the engine can be caused by oil entering the injector harness, but might also be down to injector sealing problems (or head crack on early models) especially if accompanied by a smell of fuel on the dipstick. 
 
• Fuel leaking down from the back of the engine needs a new fuel pressure regulator. 
 
• As with all Defenders, the Td5 can seem to go forever and 200,000 miles on the clock need not put you off if there is evidence of good maintenance. 
 
• Rattles and bangs suggest the suspension needs re-bushing, but drivetrain and engine vibration may by a worn dual-mass flywheel. Look for body corrosion on lower panels doors, door shuts and window frames. 
 
• Land Rover has steadily improved the Defender over the past 24 years, so it’s not surprising that the current evolution is seriously sorted, and there is little to check beyond the routines that apply to any vehicle. Bodywork corrosion appears to be eliminated by new paint processes and galvanised parts, and the chassis is showing no concerns thus far. 
 
• Early TDCI vehicles had problems with power steering pump seal failure, clutch springs and fuel system ventilation, but these have all been addressed by Land Rover and it is unlikely that any vehicles would show these problems now. 
 
Model history
 
1991-1994: 200Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 107 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. LT77S five-speed transmission. 
1994-1998: 300Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 111 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission. 
1998-2007: TD5, 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission, permanent four-wheel drive.
2007-2012: TDCI, 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive. 
2012-on: TDCI, 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 265 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive.
2016: Production of all Defender models comes to an end.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.landroveraddict.com – Land Rover Monthly magazine’s website
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
 
Summary and prices
 
As production spans such a large period, prices are understandably varied. While production might have stopped, it’s still possible to find brand new Defenders. You can expect to pay £50k plus for one in top condition with minimal miles – Especially if it’s one of the Heritage editions. Rough TDCI models start at around £6200, up to around £17,000 for something with plenty of life left in it. 
 
The thing is, Defenders are generally in high demand, which means there are few bargains out there. You might be able to find an early 200Tdi for close to £2500, but don’t expect something this cheap to be anything less than very rough. Solid cars start nearer to £3500, and a genuinely clean example will fetch closer to £6000. A perfect example on a recent galvanised chassis could cost up to £12,000. The later 300Tdi models are generally valued a little higher, but condition is more important. 
 
If you want a faster and more refined drive, the Td5 is the best choice. These characterful turbocharged engines are considerably more desirable than earlier in many ways, and although less reliable range from £3500-£5000 in poor condition, to £12,000-£17,000 in the best shape.
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
Last updated: 21st Jul 2016
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Land Rover Defender
5950 42995 GBP
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £17,495 £17,495

    ABS, Traction Control, Quick-Clear Screen, Air Conditioning, Half Leather, Electric Windows, Tow Pack, Side Steps, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, CD Player, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history 9 seater * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 116000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £17,495 £17,495
    RCV Sales
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £22,995 £22,995

    Air Conditioning, CD Player, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Power Steering, Heated Seats, Quick-Clear Screen, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history 90 Hard Top with air-con, heated cloth seats, quick clear screen, central locking, electric windows. No vat * viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 62000 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £22,995 £22,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90 300 TDI 1996

    £6,000 £6,000

    Land Rover Defender 90 300 tdi 1996, rare blue colour, alloy wheels, cd/ radio, emoberlizer, all original interior, very good  condition ( no modifications) owned four years,  only used as a van, no off roading, well looked after regular services and mots excellent runner. Ono 

    • Mileage: 220774 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £6,000 £6,000
  • Land Rover Defender

    £29,000 £29,000

    LANDROVER DEFENDER TDI XS STATION WAGON Immaculate condition one owner low mileage regularly serviced not used off road Diesel,Manual

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 27800 mi
    For sale
    £29,000 £29,000
    Toby Batchelor Batchelor
    Toby Batchelor Batchelor
  • Land Rover Defender 110 turbo, 1993 reg, for sale, manual, diesel

    £5,950 £5,950

    Land Rover Defender 110 turbo, 1993 reg, manual, diesel. White, 4-wheel drive, 300tdi. Mileage: 271,000, MOT until October 2018. Vehicle drives great for a manual gearbox. Safari roof rack and ladder. Leather interior. Checker plate on bonnet and wings. Vehicle needs a little work but nothing major. Sold as seen: £5,950 ono. For full details, contact Dave on 07753 183083.

    • Mileage: 271000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £5,950 £5,950
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £29,990 £29,990

    Variant name:TD XS STATION WAGON ,Variant: 2014 14 Land Rover Defender 90 2.2 TD XS Station Wagon Newly added to our line of unique AWD and 4x4 vehicles the 2014 14 Land Rover Defender 90 2.2 TD XS Station Wagon completed 42,812 miles supplied with full service history. This stunning, highly desirable Defender 90 XS features a selection of specification that includes; Foldaway rear seating, Heated seats, 1/2 Leather upholstery, Black side steps with aluminium checker plates, Tow bar, Low range gear selector, Rear sliding windows, Rubber floor mat liner, full size spare alloy wheel, Alpine CD player with Bluetooth, USB, AUX, Clear lens side repeaters, Electric windows, Colour coded roof and much more. As well as full inspections and meticulous preparation by our dedicated tech and bodywork teams, you can rest assured that the Defender is an exemplar model. To request a personalised presentation, arrange a test drive or to simply ask for additional info, then call 01642 813 376 or speak to us on Live Chat today.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 42812 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £29,990 £29,990
  • Land Rover Defender td5 station wagon 90

    £15,500 £15,500

    Land Rover defender 90 2003 td5 station wagon. This car has been previously converted to a station wagon complete with all the mouldings and headlining as well as a set of leather seats front and back with some crazings/cracks. Performance remap, performance decat and straight through exhaust and egr delete. Alarm and immobiliser, blue tooth radio with aux and usb compatibility. Crystal halogen headlamp upgrade with uped bulbs. Front poly bushes fitted all round, new rear shock absorbers. Has had a new clutch at about 110,000miles. MOT till October 2018. Has had a receipt service and has been waxoyled. Steering guard, front diff guard and rear tank guard been fitted along with black body chequer plate. Kbx style grill and vents. Good service history. Genuine Land Rover defender boost alloys which have been professionally coated gloss black. Viewing welcome and I am open to offers.Please email me or call me on 07710523423 if you have any questions or would like to come and view the car.Also advertised elsewhere 

    • Mileage: 123000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £15,500 £15,500
  • Land Rover Defender 90 2.5 TD5 County Station Wagon, 3 Dr, Epsom Green

    £11,950 £11,950

    This is an iconic Land Rover Defender 90 County Station Wagon, late 2003 in superb Epsom Green Metallic paint. Car comes with air con, tow bar with electrics, front and rear light guards and full service history. This car is in great condition for its age. The car also has additional extras such as a safari snorkel, side steps, front runner tinted gull window and leisure battery and a full set of genuine Land Rover rubber mats. The car is also equipped with the winter pack which includes heated front seat and heated front and rear windows, however the rear heated only works intermittently. Mileage is 148000 honest miles. The chis is in great condition with very few rust spots. The car has done me well and is a great piece of British heritage to own. The car comes with full tow pack, 2 sets of keys. MOT until July 19. Only selling due to needing a smaller car for around town. The car has recently had a new battery and starter motor fitted. Can be returned to factory condition upon request 

    • Mileage: 148150 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £11,950 £11,950
  • Land Rover Defender

    £7,895 £7,895

    Defender 90 200 TDi solid original chassis with some work to bulkhead and floorpan. Superb original engine starts drives beautifully. Good brakes, refurbished to high standard many new items.

    • Year: 1990
    • Mileage: 180600 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £7,895 £7,895
    Iain Mitchell
    Iain Mitchell
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £14,995 £14,995

    No VAT, Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Half Leather, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Sunroof, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Locking Wheel Nuts, CD Player, Radio, Power Steering, Front Fog Lamps, Colour Coded Body, Metallic Paintwork, Tow Pack, New MOT , 6 Seat, Inclusive 3 Month/3000 Miles Warranty, Heated Seats, ABS, Traction Control, Air Bag, Factory Hard Top, HARD TOP CANOPY, 17'' Alloys, 4x4, Full service history Very Clean Well Maintained Example With AIR CON,1/2 Leather of This RARE XS MODEL in OSLO BLUE METALLIC With Heated Seats,Bluetooth and More Direct From Customer in Part Exchange and supplied With FULL SERVICE HISTORY and Maintenance Invoices(10 Services 6546/15108/28092/43026/58223/68724/74800/78209/80395 and 89498 Miles)FULLY INCLUSIVE 3 MONTH/3000 MILE WSVC DRIVER PLUS PARTS AND LABOUR MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL WARRANTY. View Our 360'' Video Appraisal of This Vehicle With Our YouTube LinkUse Our Easy Pay Finance Schemes;VAT Assist;Drive Van Away, Pay Deposit on Month 4VAT Deposit;Pay VAT as Deposit, Pay Monthly Payment Month 2Please note that at WSVC we strive to ensure that all details and information on our vehicles is correct however errors may occur. It is the customer''s responsibility to check these details are correct before completing their purchase. , Click on dealer VISIT WEBSITE link to see large photographs of this van. We are a West Sussex Trading Standards Approved 'Buy with Confidence Dealership'

    • Mileage: 90292 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £14,995 £14,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £14,995 £14,995

    ABS, Traction Control, Electric Windows, CD Player, Tow Pack, Side Steps, Rear Wash/wipe, Metallic Paintwork, Remote Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history * Viewing available 9am - 5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 141000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £14,995 £14,995
  • Land Rover Defender

    £26,900 £26,900

    Variant name:110 LWB Diesel ,Variant: Hi Capacity PickUp TDCi [2.2], Only 7496 Miles, 1 Owner, 16 Inch White Wheels, Convenience Pack, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Cold Climate Pack, Heated front Seats, Heated Windscreen, Tow Ball with Drop Plates & Electrics, Under Ride Protecti Multi award-winning prestige car dealership John Holland is delighted to offer for sale this outstanding one owner from new low mileage Land Rover Defender 110 2.2D High Capacity Pickup. This stunning example is presented in the most sought after colour combination of Aintree Green Metallic complimented with a White Roof and finished with Black County Techno Cloth Upholstery. This beautiful example comes with a fantastic specification to include 16" White Wheels wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler Tyres, Convenience pack which gives electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Cold Climate Pack consisting of Heated front Seats, Heated Windscreen, Tow Ball with Drop Plates & Electrics, Under ride protection bar, Front and Rear Mud flaps, Alarm, Folding Side Steps. Supplied with 2 keys and all its original owners manuals and wallet. John Holland Sales has been established for over 40 years supplying a premium level of service in the sale of sports, prestige and collectors cars. We have a team of experienced buyers who hand pick our cars from all parts of the UK so you can buy with confidence all vehicles are HPI Clear and prepared to the highest standard, full dealer facilities available call the sales team for further information.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 7496 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £26,900 £26,900
  • Land Rover Defender

    £29,995 £29,995

    Variant name:110 LWB Diesel ,Variant: XS Station Wagon TDCi [2.2] Here at Prestige we are delighted to offer this incredible 2014 Land Rover Defender XS 110 LWB 2.2 Diesel. Presented in Corris Grey Metallic with Gloss Black Roof with Black Leather / Cloth Interior. On this particular Defender you will find some great options including, Gloss Black Alloy Wheels, Satin Black Grille and Exterior Trim, Sidesteps, Projector Headlights, Rear Tow Bar, Mudflaps, MOMO Steering Wheel, Heated Seats, Air Conditioning, Electric Windows, Heated Rear Screen, FM Radio, 7 Seats. To discuss this wonderful Defender in more detail please don't hesitate to give us a call on the number as shown above.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 71100 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £29,995 £29,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £15,995 £15,995

    Metallic Paintwork, Rear Wash/wipe, Power Steering, Sunroof, CD Player, Alloy wheels, 4x4 Just rebuilt on to a new galvanised chassis and fitted with automatic gearbox. Bodywork refurbished and interior retrimmed. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 86000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £15,995 £15,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £21,995 £21,995

    Air Conditioning, Quick-Clear Screen, Heated Seats, Electric Front Windows, CD Player, Tow Pack, Side Steps, Rear Wash/wipe, Metallic Paintwork, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Cloth Upholstery, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history High Spec County Hard Top with air-conditioning, winter pack, drl bumper, Best of British grille kit, clear headlamps and LED lamp kit. Price is £21,995 + £4,399 VAT = £26,394 total. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 47000 mi
    • Engine size: 2198
    For sale
    £21,995 £21,995