Land Rover already feeling the GX550 Competition?

supersix

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I've been watching the Land Rover Defender market for the last few years and have been closing to buying one many times. However, the dealers around me rarely had new inventory sitting on the lot, or at least with the model & trim I was interested in. Looks like that has changed big time. I just received this email from Land Rover Houston which appears to have plenty of inventory of new Defenders on the lot.


defender-inventory.png


Video here:
 
That’s possibly good news for me. My current vehicle is a ‘22 4Runner. Prior to that I owned a ‘97 Defender 90. The Defenders of that era were known for reliability issues. My observation is that the old D-90 was well designed but indifferently built, and that while unreliable when new, after a “wringing-out” period it was sufficiently reliable for rugged outdoor trips into the boonies. I’m not sure that applies to the new Defenders. I’m not sure they can be made reliable enough to venture beyond the range of cell phone and tow truck. And while I hemmed and hawed for years over the decision to replace the old Defender with a new one, ultimately I decided on a 4Runner.

Everyone has something to gripe about. The gripe du jour on cars is chrome. There are a lot of folks who can’t stand to have a spec of chrome on their vehicles. They will remove badging, get black-out kits, and even replace the wheels with black. I never had an issue with chrome, probably because I’m old. There are other folks who can’t abide any light bulb that isn’t an LED, and will search for replacements for any halogen or incandescent bulb on their vehicles.

My gripe is a black interior. I just hate that claustrophobic feeling. With the exception of one trim level, the 4Runner only comes with a black interior. I thought I could get used to it, but alas. At least the headliner is light. So it was with great interest that I began to research the GX550 (and the Land Cruiser reboot.) But from what I’ve seen, the GX550 is more claustrophobic than the 4Runner. The lighter of the interior options only has a few light panels on the centers of the seats. If you’re carrying passengers then the light interior is identical to the dark one. To make matters worse, it looks as if the headliner is dark as well. A shame, because there are so many things to love about the GX. It seems if I want a light interior then I’ll be revisiting the new Defender.

Top: GX550 light option
Bottom: Defender light option
IMG_3479.jpeg


/whining
 
Defender has a nice design language, but it’s horrid suspension articulation and reliability concerns coupled with its price premium corners it into a niche market for people who buy it for status symbols.

It’s been far too long for the Land Rover community to hope for a revival in the brands off road segment. We are all Land Rover advocates deep inside but have been grown tired as time moves on. The new GX will bring a lot of Land Rover enthusiasts to the Toyota camp, mostly because it looks like a Land Rover, but also because it can actually wheel. Hell, I’d go on record to say that even the G Wagen crowd will take a deep look into the new GX as well. It’s primed to be the definitive luxury off roader with this new generation. Very eager to get mine.
 
I caved and got a Defender. While I have been leery about the Defender due to LR's reputation for reliability, I did quite a bit of research and realized the the Defender does not tend to have anywhere near the issues that its Range Rover siblings have. I ended up finding a nearly fully-loaded 2020 Defender locally for about $55k with 30k miles on it. Yes I got the warranty! Seeing how I'm going to be overlanding on concrete for 99% of my trips, I wasn't worried about the loss of articulation.

As far as the GX goes, the sticking point I kept coming back to was the interior. Exterior is amazing on the GX but the interior felt a little cramped and boring. Also I had recently ridden in a Rav4 and the infotainment system was as boring and simple as the Lexus's is. For $70k I wanted to be "wowed" and the GX just didn't seem right for me for the price. I'm not knocking it, I'm sure it's going to be a great truck! I just hope Lexus steps up the interior in the next few years because it's already dated inside and uses tech that's been out for a few years.

The Defender prioritizes passenger comfort; back seat has more leg room than the Lexus and also has full comfort features. It is full-featured and doesn't restrict the driver at all (for example you can use the cameras at full highway speed). On top of that, I absolutely love the interior design language. I'll be happy to answer any questions. I'm still intrigued by the GX so I'll be lurking here for a while. :)
 

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Wow, that's a great deal for $55k! Is it a Land Rover warranty or after market? What engine does it have? How's the fuel economy?
 
Wow, that's a great deal for $55k! Is it a Land Rover warranty or after market? What engine does it have? How's the fuel economy?
I got the Defender 110 P400 which is equipped with a 3.0L V6, fuel economy around town on premium is currently about 18mpg. Haven’t done highway yet but I expect it’ll sit around 21mpg. Being a twin turbo it really pulls when you push on the skinny pedal!

The dealer sold me the Totalcare warranty from Easycare. It includes literally everything on the vehicle as well as tire and wheel protection and towing and rental for breakdowns. It was about $5300 for 3 years, 36k miles. Considering the insane cost of maintenance on this machine, I’ll be glad to have it if and when it breaks. Another oddity about it is the oil changes…it holds over 9 quarts of oil and oil changes are only to be done every 21k miles. And they’re done from the top with a vacuum. 😂 So it’s a little quirky but man it’s just such a nice ride!!
 
I got the Defender 110 P400 which is equipped with a 3.0L V6, fuel economy around town on premium is currently about 18mpg. Haven’t done highway yet but I expect it’ll sit around 21mpg. Being a twin turbo it really pulls when you push on the skinny pedal!

The dealer sold me the Totalcare warranty from Easycare. It includes literally everything on the vehicle as well as tire and wheel protection and towing and rental for breakdowns. It was about $5300 for 3 years, 36k miles. Considering the insane cost of maintenance on this machine, I’ll be glad to have it if and when it breaks. Another oddity about it is the oil changes…it holds over 9 quarts of oil and oil changes are only to be done every 21k miles. And they’re done from the top with a vacuum. 😂 So it’s a little quirky but man it’s just such a nice ride!!
I've had a LR2 now almost a decade. It too avoided most of the problems that are likely more RR. My LR2 has crazy strong parts - they just don't break. I too bought a warrenty, but didn't use it as it's just been a well built car. I had a Forrester before the LR, and it was crumbling - literally all the parts from the wheel up were going, and the dealer told me it was time to let it go. But by comparison, all the LR parts attached to the wheels are still original - it has been a very durable model. IMO, you have the best engine. the 2.0L is likely under powered, and the V8 is as practical as buying the G Wagon AMG version. Really, who needs that?! Enjoy the Defender!!
 
Defender has a nice design language, but it’s horrid suspension articulation and reliability concerns coupled with its price premium corners it into a niche market for people who buy it for status symbols.

It’s been far too long for the Land Rover community to hope for a revival in the brands off road segment. We are all Land Rover advocates deep inside but have been grown tired as time moves on. The new GX will bring a lot of Land Rover enthusiasts to the Toyota camp, mostly because it looks like a Land Rover, but also because it can actually wheel. Hell, I’d go on record to say that even the G Wagen crowd will take a deep look into the new GX as well. It’s primed to be the definitive luxury off roader with this new generation. Very eager to get mine.
Have you driven Defender? I have, and found it wonderful. The thing about LR is that "luxury" comes accross as passenger comforts. It's not a flashy sell, but if you have driven Defender or any of the older LR models (2/3/4), you can see that the passenger comfort is there. The reason I'm not looking at EV is that EV luxury always seems to harp on accleration, 0-60 speeds, etc. I don't care about that - I care about getting from point A to point B in comfort and not breaking down. I am looking at the GX because I would ideally want an SUV that is off road ready from the factory. The Defender comes with 19" rims and an almost complete and full glass roof, neither of which I want. So, that's why I'm looking at the GX. I think the GX will sell very well against Defender, and if Defender ever gets a set of 18" rims run by their mild hybrid 6 cylnder, it's going to then be a direct competitor to the GX Overtrail. Right now, the Defender competes with the GX Luxury, but not really the Overtrail. So there's a real choice.
 
Do any of the Defender models have massage seats? I'm not interested in RR or Discovery. I had been considering the Defender before landing on the GX 550, but I wasn't able to find out if massage seats were an option (everything I have read seems to suggest that they are not). I was also concerned about the cargo space behind the second row, even in the 130. It appears to be significantly less than the OT+. I need to be able to fit two dog crates in the back (one medium and one large), which was the main reason I didn't pursue the Defender last summer. I guess the 130 Outbound comes closest to the OT+, but the cheapest one I can find within 100 miles is $90k, which is obviously more than the OT+.
 
I don't believe the Defender comes with massaging seats. If that's your "must have" then I'd strongly recommend checking out the GX seats prior to purchasing; many people have said that Lexus' massaging seats are poor compared to other luxury brands. As for cargo space, I doubt you're putting two dog crates in the 110. Depends on how big your dogs are but you'd likely need to drop the backseat. That's the nice thing about the Defender...flat floor!! Or very close to it!
 
Do any of the Defender models have massage seats? I'm not interested in RR or Discovery. I had been considering the Defender before landing on the GX 550, but I wasn't able to find out if massage seats were an option (everything I have read seems to suggest that they are not). I was also concerned about the cargo space behind the second row, even in the 130. It appears to be significantly less than the OT+. I need to be able to fit two dog crates in the back (one medium and one large), which was the main reason I didn't pursue the Defender last summer. I guess the 130 Outbound comes closest to the OT+, but the cheapest one I can find within 100 miles is $90k, which is obviously more than the OT+.
You don't need massage seats in Defender - it has air suspension:giggle:. As for space, the 130 is surely bigger than the GX.
 
You don't need massage seats in Defender - it has air suspension:giggle:. As for space, the 130 is surely bigger than the GX.
Where are you getting the information on the cargo space? Every source I have been able to find shows that the 130 has 35.8 cubic ft (behind the second row) and the GX 550 has 45.6 cubic feet (behind the second row). Maybe it's because we are strictly looking for a two row configuration (OT+) with plenty of cargo space for the dogs. And I will definitely miss air suspension, but my 10 year old really likes the massaging seats. 🤣
 
Where are you getting the information on the cargo space? Every source I have been able to find shows that the 130 has 35.8 cubic ft (behind the second row) and the GX 550 has 45.6 cubic feet (behind the second row). Maybe it's because we are strictly looking for a two row configuration (OT+) with plenty of cargo space for the dogs. And I will definitely miss air suspension, but my 10 year old really likes the massaging seats. 🤣
I don't really look at the published estimates for space. I think there are ways those numbers get managed. On the other hand, the Defender - like the older LR models - offers something beneficial for space: cabin height. The Toyota 4Runner (which was the basis for the prior model GX) had limited cargo height. The ground clearance was raised, but not the height of the vehicle - so the cabin (forget the length) was cramped. The Defender has good ground clearance, but it's also HIGH overall. This translates into wonderfully airy cabin space. You have to sit in one to get it perhaps? I tested a prior model GX and found the back space lacking for the price point. The new GX is higher, longer, and wider, so I'm hoping it's more airy inside for passengers. But I had an unexpected realization when I tested out a 4Runner; it was just terrible for height - you had to basically duck your head to get in the back. It's not bad for a $45-$50k price point. But at $85k+, the GX would be attractive if built with a bigger cabin space for passengers. Not necessarily longer - but higher. (A Grand Wagoneer is an amazing SUV. It's a Suburban. But even with that, the cargo space is from length, not height. And if you've had time in an older LR, you get the difference). I haven't seen the new GX yet, so I really don't know how it will be. Hiding the tire below the trunk usually cramps space. It's way better - particularly for something like the OT trims - to have the spare on the back (like Wranglers, Broncos, and Defenders do). I can't imagine the GX OT is going to be able to pack as many suitcases as a 130, but maybe it will? The GX will soon be around town for tire kicking. But the prior model GX was not a stand-out for space.
 
I caved and got a Defender. While I have been leery about the Defender due to LR's reputation for reliability, I did quite a bit of research and realized the the Defender does not tend to have anywhere near the issues that its Range Rover siblings have. I ended up finding a nearly fully-loaded 2020 Defender locally for about $55k with 30k miles on it. Yes I got the warranty! Seeing how I'm going to be overlanding on concrete for 99% of my trips, I wasn't worried about the loss of articulation.

As far as the GX goes, the sticking point I kept coming back to was the interior. Exterior is amazing on the GX but the interior felt a little cramped and boring. Also I had recently ridden in a Rav4 and the infotainment system was as boring and simple as the Lexus's is. For $70k I wanted to be "wowed" and the GX just didn't seem right for me for the price. I'm not knocking it, I'm sure it's going to be a great truck! I just hope Lexus steps up the interior in the next few years because it's already dated inside and uses tech that's been out for a few years.

The Defender prioritizes passenger comfort; back seat has more leg room than the Lexus and also has full comfort features. It is full-featured and doesn't restrict the driver at all (for example you can use the cameras at full highway speed). On top of that, I absolutely love the interior design language. I'll be happy to answer any questions. I'm still intrigued by the GX so I'll be lurking here for a while. :)
Middle of last year I was about to purchase the Defender 110 Dynamic X-SE. Loved my test drive and you are right about the comfort and with the mild hybrid it has plenty of trottle response. My Lexus dealer promised I'd be one of the first to get my hands on the new GX at that time I was told it would be available by Nov/Dec so I hesitated. My 2020 GX lacks tecnology and the Defender had plenty of it. So here I am now waiting til early May wonderfing and hoping I did not make a mistake. However August of last year I purchased a 2024 BMW X5 50e Plug-in for my wife. It gets over 45 miles on a charge with the option of using a 110V or 220V outlet. Love the power and of course BMW is a "drivers car" and my wife really loves it! I am a little surprised about the price of the GX premium + (with the added accessories that I can not remove from my order) it compares closely to the Defender
oh well... my fingers are croseed that I will be happy I waited!
 
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LR tech really is cool in some subtle ways. For my existing LR I paid for satellite NAV with internal map storage - sounds normal, but it's not. When you depend on Google for your maps, Google collects all your info and then advertises back at you. All your maps, favorites, destinations, and locations are stored where? on Google? No thanks, and not possible when you have a sat nav set up (that bypasses Apple and Google and carplay). LR figured that as there's a chip necessary for storing 300 map locations, may as well store music too!! I have 6 CDs worth of music I've downloaded and stored in the computer chip that was initially there for NAV. This allows me music without Amazon or Apple playlist recommendations, suggestions, or ads. It was pure genius. I'm not sure the Defender has this, and I am sure the GX won't. Very likely, Google and Apple pay car manufacturers money to NOT develop propriatery software and storage systems for maps and music, as that would reduce marketing potential for the tech companies. But it's nice to have a LR that wasn't corrupted by Google/Apple money, for sure. I doubt even a high end BMW has such driver-oriented software?
 
I am surprised (if I understand voice activation correctly) under Technology, voice activation is listed as "Intelligent Assist" and there is a fee after 3 years to continue this feature. My wife's (2024 X5 50e) voice response works flawlessly and I don't believe it needs to be renewed. Not sure about the tracking (BMW) regarding Navigation I'll confirm with my dealer. I hope since there is a fee for the voice activation feature that it works better than what I currenty have on my 2020GX which is awful!
 
No opting out… This is included in the build with the added note that it needs to be renewed after three years.. As stated on my build sheet;
Lexus interface with 14 inch touchscreen display includes 3 year trial of Drive Connect with Cloud Navigation, intelligent assistant, and destination assist. Subscription required after trial. 4 G network dependent. There is also a remote connect with a 3 year trial that is 4G dependent. Also I have a 30 day AT&T hotspot trial, again 4G network dependent. All options added to my build (cannot be removed) total an additional $3,139.00.
I have not clarified how 4G network dependent plays into all of the technology.
Sorry if my answer is “clear as mud”…
 
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Thank you Ben O for the info. You explained it very well. I just wish we could order options we want instead of all being "hearded" together. I'm trying to retire with this vehicle and less is more to me.
 
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