2023 Defender 130 First Edition: Tough, Rugged, and Refined

By Kimatni D. Rawlins,

Land Rovers are impressive vehicles to gaze at no matter what environment they have established themselves in, whether shopping in DC’s glitzy Georgetown district or playing in the sand at SeaScapes Beach House in Tampa Bay, Florida. Take your pick from a Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, or the new Defender 130 First Edition and you will not disappoint onlookers from an aesthetic point of view.

I recently experienced a 2023 Defender 130 model in the Maryland and Florida areas for family and brotherhood activities requiring seating for six to seven. Of course, the latest Defender borrowed traits from the original and enhanced them with modern and stylistic sophistication. During a reunion in Tampa with 12 high school friends, everyone vied to be one of the lucky six to ride in the pompous British SUV. We would have liked to fit seven, but the third row is for two children or just one adult with their legs spread across the seat. Nevertheless, the stretched white body with massive 22″ silver 5-spoke rims stood out wherever we set the anchor.

With the SUV weighted down from my occupants, mobility was still impressive from the 3-liter, 6-cylinder gas engine pushing out 395-horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The motor pairs with an 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD, and Terrain Response with Selectable Driving and Off-Road Modes. An Air Suspension and Adaptive Dynamics help the Defender accomplish various driving tasks; however, don’t compare its performance to a Range Rover Sport which handles high-speed cornering and maneuvering far more effectively. The Defender is aggressive when it’s time to conquer uncharted lands, akin to a Safari animal. Especially with the rear tow hooks embedded into the bumper. Though, the swinging tailgate with a full-size covered spare is heavy and could use a weight reduction. Additionally, the large spare wheel cover impedes rearview vision, yet this is an option so you don’t have to live with it. Land Rover’s antidote for that is to switch on the ClearSight Interior Rear View Mirror which uses video for the imaging behind you.

Hop inside for typical Land Rover craftsmanship that inspires guests with Cream Veneers, an opening panoramic sunroof, robotic dash layout, premium cabin lighting, a center cooler for hot summer days, omnipresent 3D Surround Cameras, and an 11.4″ screen and Pivi Pro Infotainment system. It floats on the center stack and has storage space behind the panel for various items. The guys took turns DJing their favorite genres of Hip Hop and Afrobeats as the Meridian sound system had everyone jamming like Bob Marley. You will find a multitude of controls located on the power-adjustable heated leather steering wheel such as Lane Keep Assist which can be aggressive at times, therefore I kept it off. Other protective and convenience systems include Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Assist, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Dynamic Stability Control, and more.

So, who doesn’t love the rugged and nostalgic appeal of the Defender 130 First Edition? Trust me, the naysayers are few and far between in comparison to the enthusiasts and fanatics. Expect an MSRP of $84,700 and 19 combined mpg for the go-anywhere, attention-grasping Land Rover.

Defender X Owner Testimonial

Upon reviewing the 2011 LR4 as a consultant to Automotive Rhythms, I took a personal interest in the traditional Land Rover model, which later translated into a lengthy love affair. In April of 2022 I purchased the 2023 Defender X. My continued passion for LR has not disappointed me in any way. In fact, it has created a larger swell of admiration for the British wagon.

Virgil Moore, Medical Professional


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