The Defender 130 is currently at the top of the Land Rover heap, with plenty of room for our team of four and equipment. The 130 designation doesn’t match the length of the wheelbase, though, since the Defender 110 and 130 sit on a 119 inch long chassis. But it’s 13.4 inches longer than the 110 so, at first, I was worried about the way in and out of any big crawl. At least a longer wheelbase would help with stability at higher speeds in the dirt, I thought – the speed limit of 15 miles per hour made the latter unnecessary.
The range of vehicles, now known for entry-level sports cars and 4x4s, is based on Land Rover’s efforts in the 1990s including improved steering, more responsive braking, and more. In today’s Defender digital long-term, control systems mean putting our trust in the car’s 85 ECU. We spent the day at 4Lo, given the speed limit, then spent time testing the Rock Crawl, Sand, Terrain, and Normal settings.
Rock Crawl gets the air suspension to lift, while the gears pick up the gears so the turbocharged inline-six can rev up to higher revs for more torque. The hill-climbing system also activates automatically, which resulted in an unexpected amount of braking on smooth sections of road – the system works better than a single pedal by controlling each wheel individually, but luckily it can be switched off separately from the steering wheel. And, via physical buttons on the Defender’s center console, I also fiddled with the suspension height, steering, and engine stop. But strangely, the digital display showing road changes did not allow manual control of the center or rear suspension, as it showed the air suspension or compression in real time.