Land Rover Defender (1984 – 2016) Review

Land Rover Defender (1984 – 2016) At A Glance


+The ultimate 4x4. Simply unstoppable off-road. Body panels easy to replace. Latest 2.2-litre diesel offers strong pulling power. Retains its resale value like no other utility vehicle.

-Crude and noisy compared to a modern 4x4. Cramped driving position. Not suited to motorway or town driving.

Insurance Groups are between 25–28
On average it achieves 103% of the official MPG figure

The Defender has been around for so long now that it’s something of an icon and its reputation as the ultimate offroader is richly deserved. The ladder chassis, mechanical all-wheel drive system and simple, strong panel design mean it can really cope well with the roughest terrain.

The Defender series Land Rover has been going since 1984, and it’s undergone constant upgrades and improvements over its lifetime, including improvements to drivetrain and equipment. 

Unfortunately, despite the continual upgrades it does feel like an old design today – the dashboard and centre stack are flat, the windscreen and seats are upright and the driving position is cramped.

It’s also a fairly expensive vehicle to buy new and it isn’t the most efficient, with official fuel economy figures of below 30mpg across the board. 

Nontheless, it feels solid and has a certain character and charm. It’s also a true workhorse, something any countryside dweller will attest to, given the sheer number of them seen ferrying farm equipment around rural areas. 

Land Rover Defender 90 Heritage Road Test 2015

Real MPG average for a Land Rover Defender (1984 – 2016)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

21–34 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

Satisfaction Index

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Ask Honest John

Are old Land Rover Defenders actually selling for the inflated prices I see advertised online?

"Are old Land Rover Defenders actually selling for the inflated prices I see advertised online? Several years ago we had a Fiat 500 we wanted to sell. Prices were high online and on dealers forecourts, but we found when we advertised ours that there was very little interest and we traded it in instead. I wonder if it's the same with Defenders."
The Land Rover Defender has always been a desirable 4x4. Prices have increased since production stopped and there is a lot of demand for these vehicles from farmers, off-road enthusiasts and people who want to own a genuine part of British motoring history. For the latest used Land Rover prices, see:
Answered by Dan Powell

Is it still worth buying a Land Rover Defender?

"I love the Land Rover Defender. Is it worth still buying one?"
If you want a proper 4x4 this is still the best thing to buy and given the industry that's built up supplying parts and spares for them, you will have no issues keeping it on the road. They also hold their value well. Definitely a good time to buy.
Answered by David Ross

Can you suggest a second-hand, cheap, small 4x4 to tow a trailer?

"Can you suggest a second-hand, cheap, small 4x4 to tow a trailer? The car will be used for infrequent short journeys to pickup furniture, logs and building materials with the occasional longer trip. Ideally, I wish to spend less than £5000 and would like a car that has some interest with the potential to become a "classic"."
It sounds like a Land Rover Defender would tick all the boxes, but it has potential to be a money pit for £5000. A Subaru Forester would be an interesting alternative.
Answered by Andrew Brady

How much is a 1987 soft top Land Rover worth?

"How much is a 1987 soft top Land Rover worth?"
Anywhere from about £1500 to £5000. All depends on history, condition and mileage. It could be worth even more if it's concours.
Answered by Keith Moody
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