All you guys who hate Defenders are wrong!! I love my LR. Its everything you could ever ask for in a 4x4. Mine is a 94 and has clocked 117K miles, but it's running stronger than ever! Everyone who has a chance should pick up a D90 a.s.a.p! They are truly great 4x4's.
In relation to buying a Landy Defender or a 4Runner. It really depends on what you are doing. The Landy is noisy and uncomfortable, but it is rugged and capable. My father ran a series II for 20 years before upgrading to a TDi Defender which I have since inherited. (No, I would not let him be buried in it).
Off road it is brilliant. With very few modifications it constantly amazes other 4x4 drivers who have done the full makeover.
On road it is noisy and a tad slow. It is a bit awkward in the city (Sydney, Australia) - Definitely NOT a family sedan. I forgive its rough edges because I know it will bring me back from the next off road adventure.
Finally as for breakdowns. I have never had to have it towed (On road or off). It has suffered a similar level of failures to other vehicles. None have been particularly major. It is cheaper than I would have expected to repair. A previous comment was keep an eye on fluid levels and I can attest to this- If oil or water can leak from a Landy then it will leak!
Have had a couple of Land Rovers including an SIII and a model unique to Australia and I believe the pinnacle of Land Rover reliability, a 4 speed County with the 3.9 Isuzu Diesel.
I spent 10 years of a longish time as a mechanic in a coastal town working on many four wheel drives, including all the usual suspects from Japan, Landies and the occasional Jeep. The reality is that Land Rover build vehicles that are less than perfect, especially when viewed in the light of Japanese build quality.
If you are willing to live with the build quality, service costs ($1k to do the timing belt properly!!), semi regular manufacturing failures (ie; timing case castings on Tdi) they reward with off road perfomance that is unrivaled.
Finally, as with all British cars of the sixties, if it stops leaking - it's empty!
For those who have had nothing, but problems, we must be referring to a different truck. The Land Rovers Defender is, without question, the longest lived, most reliable, off road vehicle in existence. I've had my D-90 across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I have literally pulled nearly ever imaginable truck out of the mud. These trucks are common fodder in the most difficult places on earth, and for good reason. They will literally go anywhere, and do not rust. I have been on safari with Defenders with over 300,000 miles, and have never seen a paved road. Try that in a Jeep Wrangler. However, they are quite noisy on highways. Most people in America buy truck to look cool in. They are almost never taken off road, certainly anywhere remotely challenging. If you want to look cool, this is not your truck. The Defender is a simple purpose vehicle, not for the highway and grocery runs. If you want to cross Namibia, this is the only option.
I live in Dublin Ireland the roads are pothole marked about every 10meters. I have to do something as in the past 4 years my shocks on my Opel Astra have had to be changed 2 times, note it is only a 5 year old car! Could it be the Jeep for me? What will the wife say?
Sure the Defender 90 is a great vehicle, but not everybody has the $75,000 to ante up. Hence, the $25,000 Wrangler begins to look pretty attractive at 1/3 the price, and with most people never realizing a significant difference in performance. I'm not convinced that a Wrangler couldn't perform just as well in the Namibian deserts, but how many American cars of any kind do you really see in Africa to begin with? it maybe an import issue rather than a vehicle capability issue.
Hi, I am disgusted at all the bad press the Defender is getting.
Let's start with driving. Sure, it's a little noisy (I own a 1983 110 Hi-Cap pick up), but it's not that bad, and could even have a radio.
To drive, I prefer the Defender above all else. It is high off the ground and you get excellent vision all round. The handling is good, and the engine is powerful.
Off road there is nothing like it. The combination of great suspension, good handling, a great engine (the standard 2.5) and the solid feel of the car makes the best car there is for off roading.
I have had no serious problems (the only one being the battery doesn't hold charge), and I think the Defender is a great car. 10/10!