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2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery: What’s the Difference?

Perhaps the most exciting automotive news to come out in 2019 is the reveal of the all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender. In addition to this being the first all-new Defender in more than 40 years, it also marks the return of the Defender to the U.S. market. After being sold in the States as a specialty vehicle for a few years in the 1990s, the Defender has long been forbidden fruit for us Americans. The return of this iconic off-roader is something to get excited about.

But given that it overlaps with Land Rover‘s Discovery when it comes to price, seating capacity and off-road aesthetics, there might be some confusion over where these vehicles diverge. To help, we’ve outlined below how the new Defender and 2020 Land Rover Discovery are both similar and different.

For this comparison, we’ll be looking at the 4-door Defender 110. A 2-door Defender, known as the Defender 90, will hit lots later.

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery exterior


On the outside, the new Defender is far boxier and more traditional-looking than the Discovery, which, after its most recent redesign, looks more like a crossover. The Defender offers a squarish front end, a tall greenhouse and a flat roof that can be equipped with a roof rack, which is available as an accessory from Land Rover, along with cargo pod, a winch and more. The new Defender eschews the round headlights of the original but employs circular LEDs as a tribute to the previous model’s iconic design element. The backs are similar, with a rear-mounted spare and vertical design elements that incorporate the rear lighting. See the 2020 Land Rover Defender models for sale near you

The Discovery lost its blocky proportions in its 2017 redesign. It’s now more angular and streamlined, mimicking the look of luxurious crossovers from the likes of Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. That said, it doesn’t entirely abandon its roots, holding on to the two-tiered roof design that’s been a design hallmark since the Discovery debuted back in 1989. While it loses the rear safari windows offered on earlier generations, the new Discovery has a rear sunroof mounted over the third row and cargo area. Another unique design element resides around back, where the Discovery gets an off-center mounted license plate — unconventional, to say the least. See the 2020 Land Rover Defender models for sale near you

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery interior


Just like on the outside, the new Defender’s interior is more utilitarian and old-school than what you’ll find in the family-oriented Discovery. The Defender’s dashboard is upright, with its center infotainment screen sitting at an almost 90-degree angle. The center stack controls jut out at the base of the dash like a fat bottom lip, although the cluster design all comes together quite nicely and looks sleek, functional and modern. The Defender’s unique gearshift design rises out of that cluster. Seating capacity is five to seven passengers, with a unique six-passenger configuration achieved via an optional front bench seat.

While its steering wheel design is similar to the Defender’s, the Discovery’s interior is altogether softer and more carlike by comparison. The infotainment screen sits at an angle, while gear selection is achieved via a rotary dial on the center console. The Discovery seats five passengers — seven if it’s optioned with a third-row seat. While it’s attractive and fits into the upscale image of the Land Rover brand, the Discovery’s interior is far more mainstream than that of the quirky, retro-inspired Defender.

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery mechanicals

Mechanics & Capability

The new Defender launches with two available engines. The Discovery also boasts two engine options, but they don’t overlap with the new engines offered in the Defender. On either vehicle, the lone transmission option is an 8-speed automatic.

2020 Land Rover Defender Engines

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; 296 horsepower; 295 lb-ft. of torque
  • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six; 395 hp; 406 lb-ft. of torque

A diesel engine and a hybrid will join the lineup eventually, but U.S. availability hasn’t been set. Fuel economy figures for the new Defender haven’t been released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

2020 Land Rover Discovery Engines

  • 3.0-liter supercharged V6; 340 hp; 332 lb-ft. of torque; 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined
  • 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline six; 254 hp; 443 lb-ft. of torque; 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery features

Features & Technology

Many of Land Rover’s features come standard across its different model lines, so there’s a lot of overlap between what you can get in a Defender and what’s offered in the Discovery. Each has a full array of active safety technology — including automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic sign recognition — befitting a modern luxury vehicle. Each vehicle can also come with Land Rover’s clever Activity Key, which you wear around the wrist and which keeps you from having to haul your clunky mechanical key fob with you whenever you go to the gym or on a hike or wherever. Beyond this, there are even more features, such as large infotainment screens with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, high-end audio systems and an app for connecting to your vehicle from afar. While the Defender was known for being spartan and utilitarian, it’s now right in line with the most technologically advanced vehicles on the market — just like the Discovery.

Each vehicle wears a style that nods to Land Rover’s past, but you’re much more likely to mistake the Discovery than the Defender for a run-of-the-mill luxury crossover. While Land Rover softened the Discovery’s lines quite drastically in the vehicle’s most recent redesign, the Defender stays true to its boxy, utilitarian roots.

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery space


Given that the modern Discovery is geared more toward toting a family around while the Defender’s main priority is to look as cool as possible while off-roading, you might be surprised to learn that the Defender is actually bigger than the Discovery in more than one dimension. The Defender 110 is longer than the Discovery (197.6 inches to 195.1 inches, respectively) and taller (77.5 inches to73 inches). The Discovery is a little wider, measuring 81.6 inches to the Defender’s 79.1.

Either vehicle can be configured to seat up to seven passengers via an optional third-row seat with room for two. In a very odd move, Land Rover’s made the Defender configurable to seat six via an optional front bench seat. That’s virtually unheard of today. It does not appear that the front bench will be able to be paired with the third row.

In terms of cargo volume, the Discovery has the Defender beat, with 41.2 cu ft. behind the second row and 83.7 cu ft. with the second row folded down. The Defender offers 34.0 and 78.8 cu ft., respectively.

2020 Land Rover Defender vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery off-road


The new Defender is designed to be Land Rover’s off-road flagship vehicle and therefore fares better in the rough stuff than the Discovery. While both vehicles offer an air suspension capable of raising the vehicle for extra clearance, the Defender offers it as standard. (It’s optional on the Discovery.) Additionally, the Defender has the Discovery beat with regard to off-road geometry, boasting approach, breakover and departure angles of up to 38, 28 and 40 degrees, respectively, with the air suspension in its highest setting. Those breakover and departure angles are better than those of any other off-roader on sale today, and its approach angle is second only to the venerable Jeep Wrangler‘s. For what it’s worth, the Discovery has pretty good angles, too, with an approach angle of 34 degrees, a breakover angle of 27.5 degrees and a departure angle of 30 degrees — so long as you opt for the air suspension and raise it to its highest setting.

The Defender is more in your face with its off-roading aspirations, as it should be. Either vehicle can be had with a locking center and rear differential and Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control systems — which are common features offered under a number of different names by just about any automaker with off-roading aspirations. The Defender ups the ante with factory-available all-terrain tires and with a few different accessory packs — such as an available platform roof rack, a ladder for accessing the roof rack, a winch, a snorkel and a side-mounted gear storage compartment — that make it overland-ready straight from the factory. The Defender is designed to get you excited about going off-road, while the Discovery more or less just gives you the confidence of knowing that you’re able to if you want to.


The base price of the new Defender 110 is around $51,000. If you really go crazy with options — and there are a lot of them — you can run the price all the way up to $105,000. But the cool thing about the new Defender is that Land Rover’s generous packaging lets you get pretty specific with features you want, and buyers can get a nicely equipped Defender with all the off-road bits for a little more than $60,000, which is loaded Jeep Wrangler Rubicon territory.

The Discovery starts at a little more than $53,000 and tops out at just shy of $100,000 when fully optioned. The optional turbodiesel comes at just a $2,000 price premium.


It’s not often that an automaker has two iconic nameplates, let alone two that play in similar segments. But that’s what Land Rover has on its hands with the Discovery and Defender. Over the years, Land Rover has softened the Discovery considerably, turning it from the rugged, purpose-built off-roader it was in the 1990s into the family hauler that still offers impressive off-road capability but balances it with increased on-road livability. The new Defender has been modernized in a similar way and comes with most of the Discovery’s technology, but it remains true to its roots when it comes to image and capability. It offers arguably the best off-road geometry of any new vehicle on sale today. Factoring in all of the cool accessory packs you can get with it, the Defender can make for a fun and capable overland adventure vehicle straight off the dealer lot.

Both the new Defender and the new Discovery can go off-road, and both can serve as a family vehicle. But these days the Discovery is first and foremost a spacious family-hauling crossover, while the Defender is still purpose-built for adventure. Find a Land Rover Defender for sale or Find a Land Rover Discovery for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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