Compact SUV; Built in England
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door wagon
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $7,200 – $13,500*


1995 Land Rover Defender 90


1995 Land Rover Defender 90


1995 Land Rover Defender 90 interior


1997 Land Rover Defender 90


1994 Land Rover Defender 90

Pros:
  • Low-speed acceleration
  • Trailer-towing capability
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise

Defender 110 wagons, if one can be found, appeal mainly to people who appreciated the merits of the old Land Rovers, seen in many movies forging their way through African jungle. The Defender 90 ranked more as a lifestyle accessory for “high rollers” than a real sport-utility value. After all, the convertible cost $27,900 in 1994, without a roof or back seat. Neither qualifies as acceptable value today.

Overview

Descended from the old slab-sided, utilitarian Land Rovers of the distant past (last sold in the U.S. in 1974), the Defender 110 appeared as a limited edition for 1993. The 4-door wagon was designed primarily for off-road use, and powered by a 3.9-liter V8 engine that made 182 horsepower. Only 500 were built for 1993, the model’s sole season on the market.

With a 110-inch wheelbase, the Defender 110 was 10 inches longer between the axles than a standard Range Rover, and 2 inches more than the new long-wheelbase version of the Range Rover. Overall length ranked between the two Range Rover models. Defender’s V8 engine was similar to the one used in the Range Rover County.

Only a 5-speed manual transmission was offered. Permanently engaged 4-wheel drive was standard.

Body panels were made of aluminum. Seating for nine was standard, including two front buckets, a split folding middle bench, and four folding side-facing jump seats in the cargo area. Standard equipment included air conditioning, a front brush guard, rear step bumper, rear defroster, tinted glass, roof rack, cassette stereo, running boards, and ride-leveling suspension.

Yearly Updates

1994 Defender
A different sort of Defender debuted for 1994. Dubbed the Defender 90, this one was a 2-door convertible. It was the first product marketed under the new company name in the U.S.: Land Rover North America. Considered Land Rover’s entry-level model, the Defender 90 was the only convertible sport-utility vehicle in the U.S. with a V8 engine. Like the V8 in the previous Defender 110 wagon, the 3.9-liter engine developed 182 horsepower. A 5-speed manual was the only transmission offered. Somewhat stubby in appearance, the new convertible was roughly comparable to the Jeep Wrangler–which of course had no V8 engine. The Defender 90 was 7 inches shorter in wheelbase, and 14.5 inches shorter overall, than a regular Range Rover County. At 92.9 inches, its wheelbase was just a tad shorter than a Jeep Wrangler, but the Defender 90 measured 8.6 inches longer overall. A full tonneau cover protected the interior, but the basic Defender 90 came without a roof. A removable, full fabric top with plastic side and rear windows was a dealer-installed accessory. So was a “bikini” half-top. Standard equipment included a front brush guard, rear step bumper, front/rear antisway bars, cassette stereo, front/rear mud flaps, swing-away rear-mounted spare tire, and an 8000-pound winch. The Premium Sort Top package included a full safari cage. Aluminum body panels were attached to a steel frame. All-disc brakes were used, but without antilocking. No airbags were installed. Only two front seats were included with the Defender 90 as it came from the factory. A 2-place folding rear seat was a dealer-installed option. So were air conditioning and full carpeting. Spring of 1994 brought a new manual transmission to the Defender 90.
1995 Defender
A new “fastback” soft top featured plastic sliding windows. As before, an optional plastic top could be dealer installed, as could a surrey-style full fabric top or a fabric half top. Importation of the Defender 90 ceased at the end of 1995, but the vehicle would earn a brief reprieve later. Final ’95 versions had standard air conditioning, a more powerful cassette stereo, and newly optional 5-spoke alloy wheels.
1996 Defender
No new Defenders were imported in 1996, but final examples of the limited-edition hardtop model from ’95 could still be found at dealerships. They featured a permanent aluminum hardtop with pop-up sunroof, an internal/external safari cage, and four center-facing rear seats.
1997 Defender
After a year’s absence, Land Rover resumed importation of the Defender 90, built by the Rover Group (now owned by BMW). A slightly larger 4.0-liter V8 engine went under the hood, along with a 4-speed automatic transmission, both borrowed from the larger Discovery wagon. A hardtop wagon went on sale first, which Land Rover announced would be followed by a soft-top convertible. Enhanced-capacity air conditioning was optional, and a CD changer was standard. So were driving lamps and a 9000-pound winch, in case of difficulty in the wilderness. Neither airbags nor antilock brakes were available, but permanent 4-wheel drive and all-disc braking were standard. The six-passenger Defender 90 wagon had a fixed aluminum roof, swing-out tailgate, roll-down door windows, and sliding rear side windows. Four-passenger convertibles had half-height doors, removable sliding side windows, and a manual canvas roof that fit over the integral roll cage.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive

Land Rover’s 3.9-liter V8 engine produced 182 horsepower. Both the Defender 110 wagon and early Defender 90 models came only with 5-speed manual shift. When Land Rover resurrected the Defender 90 for 1997, it had a 4-speed automatic transmission instead, as well as a revised 4.0-liter V8 engine.

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.9/240
Engine HP 182
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 232
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

13/16

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/241
Engine HP 182
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 233
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/17

Road Test

Seldom seen, due its limited production run, the 1993 Defender 110 wagon was a unique vehicle in it price range. That meant the Defender 110 would appeal to a very narrow audience, when it was new as well as later on.

Safari-ready styling was accompanied by a utilitarian cabin and an exposed roll cage. Not as crude or noisy as its back-to-basics appearance would suggest, the Defender 110 was nevertheless not well-suited to everyday on-road driving. Gas mileage is no bonus, either. We averaged just 12.5 mpg, in mostly in-town driving.

As for the Defender 90, a few more examples might be found on the used-car market–but not many. Land Rover sold just 1468 Defender 90 convertibles in the U.S. in 1994, followed by 1571 in 1995. This was also a low-production vehicle, aimed at a select audience. Not many ordinary sport-utility buyers, after all, would be content with a vehicle that came from the factory without a roof or back seat and with carpeting an option.

A stark, less-than-basic interior also limited the Defender 90’s attractiveness. By comparison, a Jeep Wrangler of this period looks practically lavish and refined.

On the plus side, its V8 engine gives the Defender 90 a healthy dose of power, which can be most welcome when traversing difficult off-road terrain, and also back on the highway.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Land Rover Defender

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 2
20%

Total: 34

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
92.9 157.1 70.5 80.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
NA 15.6 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
57.0 NA NA NA
2-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
92.9 157.1 70.5 80.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
NA 14.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
57.0 NA NA NA
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.0 181.1 70.5 84.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
NA 20.4 9
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
NA NA NA NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Fuel pump
Description: The fuel pump will quit because the 7.5-amp fuse, which is too small for the circuit, blows. A 10-amp fuse is necessary and a notation should be made in the owner’s manual. (1996-97)
Ignition switch
Description: Unless it is repositioned away from the distributor, the ignition module may overheat (and even melt) causing a no-start situation. (1994-97)
Poor drivability
Description: Several drivability problems are caused by defects in the Mass Airflow (MAF) system. The plating on electrical connectors is too thick (1993-94) or not gold plated as is necessary. (1997)
Tail/brake lights
Description: Hazard flasher can blow without blowing their fuses leading to a difficult diagnosis of the problem. (1997)
Transmission noise
Description: Unless the transmission number has an F suffix, it may suffer from excessive backlash that causes clunking noises–especially in stop-and-go traffic. (1996-97)

Recall History

1992-95 Defender
Description: “Hazardous Substance Label” warning was not installed on batteries.
1995 Defender
Description: When driveshafts were reinstalled during a quality overcheck at port of entry, the wrong-sized nuts were used; those nuts can loosen, ultimately causing disconnection of one or both driveshafts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.