Defender vs Discovery: There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Land Rover, but This One’s CLEARLY Better!

Here are the key differences between the Land Rover Defender and Discovery.

Many of our viewers have asked us to put together a Land Rover Defender vs Discovery comparison for some time. A large number of emails and messages suggested that the new Land Rover Defender is actually a Land Rover Discovery in macho clothing. These requests starting pouring in around the same time we bought our first 2021 Land Rover Defender. Despite a series of reliability debacles, we finally got our hands on a blue Defender that impressed us.

Back then, we shrugged off the sentiment that these vehicles were the same with a different wrapper. We’ve gone off-road both, several times, and we know how they perform in all types of climates. We still marvel at the potential of both vehicles in the rough, on top of their outstanding on-road characteristics. Still, one is better than the other, and – despite being obviously related – they have many different components.

The Land Rover Defender vs Discovery comparison is a question of character.

Off-road, there’s no contest: the Land Rover Defender reigns supreme.

With better approach, departure, break over angles along with an inch of additional (max) ground clearance, the Land Rover Defender is already ahead of the curve.

2020 Land Rover Defender in snow

Check out these numbers on the Land Rover Defender 110. Only the Wrangler and Bronco can compete Here are the on-paper specs:

  • Ground Clearance – 8.6 inches to 11.5 inches (*with air suspension)
  • Maximum Wading Depth – 35.4 inches
  • Approach Angle – 30.1 – 38.0 degrees*
  • Breakover Angle – 22.0 – 28.0 degrees*
  • Departure Angle – 37.7 – 40.0 degrees*
  • Wheelbase – 118.9 inches

There’s more:

The Defender comes with two engine options, including the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Then, there’s the 395 hp turbocharged I6 that makes 406 lb-ft of torque. Yes, JLR uses mild hybrid technology, but I wouldn’t call these things “hybrids.” Those power numbers are noticeably higher than the Discovery’s

Also, you not only can get the smaller, two-door Defender 90, there will be a V8 option, and an even longer Defender 130 coming soon. Thus, there are a ton of choices out there.

Having large windows, flat sides fairly easy corners to identify makes the Defender easier to pilot off road. While we’re not fans of the oversized wheels, the rubber is pretty grippy on most surfaces.

2023 Land Rover Discovery Metropolitan Edition

On-road, there’s no contest. the Land Rover Discovery reigns supreme:

With its wider stance, shorter wheelbase, almost wagon-like profile (honestly, it still looks like a Ford Explorer to me), the 2022 Land Rover Discovery is the right choice for folks who prefer to stay on the highway. Not that it can’t go though the hard stuff; it most certainly can, but not as athletically as the Defender. It is much more car-like, and its behavior is far more serene on the road.

The Discovery has more useable (and comfortable) interior accommodations. All of the seating surfaces feel premium, and the third row is more comfortable. Having a swing-up tailgate and a larger cargo opening is far more useful day-to-day. On top of that, the overall feel of the Discovery is more luxurious than the Defender.

Oddly, it is tuned differently, with its bigger 3.0-liter engine making 40-hp less than the Defender.

Overall, everyone at the studio agrees that, despite the teething issues during early production, we all dig the Land Rover Defender. It’s a treat to drive, and it oozes personality. There are no issues with the Discovery, other than being tame by comparison; it’s still a great ride.

Simply put, we all enjoyed the Defender immensely. Check out my full comparison below: