To supplement the freshly-redesigned Defender mid-size SUV, Land Rover is preparing the junior Defender Sport, a smaller and more affordable entry point to its most adventurous SUV line. The Defender Sport ride on different platform than the larger Defender SUV, and may launch as a full battery electric vehicle. We’re speculating on the name, but it makes sense considering the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the smaller companion to the larger Discovery. We expect a starting price of around $30,000, which would allow the base model to go toe-to-toe with the upcoming Ford Bronco and the current Jeep Wrangler. High-end SE and HSE trims could duke it out with luxury subcompact SUVs such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Volvo XC40.
What’s New for 2027?
The Defender Sport will be an all-new model fighting in the compact SUV arena when it goes on sale in 2022 as a 2023 model.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
It’s too early to recommend one of the Defender Sport’s trim levels. That will have to wait until we know more about its standard and optional features. No matter the trim, we expect the Defender Sport to offer Land Rover-style off-road capability in the form of a robust all- or four-wheel drive system as standard equipment, plus lots of ground clearance and generous approach, breakover, and departure angles.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
We’re not sure yet which engines will be found under the hood of the Defender Sport. Land Rover’s 246-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter Ingenium four-cylinder, that’s found in the Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque, would be a good bet; a turbocharged three-cylinder engine is another possibility and, as the auto industry moves toward further electrification, a plug-in hybrid setup might also be offered. An all- or four-wheel drive system will undoubtedly be standard, and it’s possible that a host of other off-road tech features could make the cut, including an air suspension that adjusts ground clearance and a choice of off-road driving modes.
More on the Land Rover Defender 80
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA hasn’t released any information on the Defender Sport’s fuel economy ratings and likely won’t until closer to the SUV’s on-sale date. With three- or four-cylinder power and a relatively small overall package, the Defender 80 should deliver decent fuel economy despite its expected boxy styling. For more information about the Defender 80’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Details about the Defender Sport’s interior have not been revealed, but we expect it be built in a four-door body style with room for four adults plus adequate space in the back for gear and luggage. Considering the Defender Sport’s target market, we could see at least one model with a carpet-less interior that would make for easy cleanup after a day of hiking, and stain-resistant upholstery that will provide for easy cleanup. High-end models are likely to offer leather upholstery and features that would be considered luxury items such as heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, and adjustable ambient interior lighting.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system that debuted on the regular Defender should also be a standard feature on the smaller Defender Sport. This system, which is displayed on a 10.0-inch touchscreen, is Jaguar-Land Rover’s latest tech and can handle over-the-air software updates. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included in the software; in-dash navigation and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot should both be available, at least as options.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
We expect a host of driver-assistance features to be offered as standard equipment, with more advanced tech being optional. For more information about the Defender Sport’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features are likely to include:
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
All other Land Rover models come with a fairly basic standard warranty package and we expect the Defender Sport will follow suit. Key rivals such as the XC40 and the Jaguar E-Pace offer more value here in the form of complimentary scheduled maintenance plans that stretch for three and five years, respectively.
Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles No complimentary scheduled maintenance