Monday, August 8, 2022

Land Rover Defender 110: Can you sleep in it?

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The Land Rover Defender is an impressive off-roading machine that, at 11.5 inches, has a better ground clearance than both the Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Wrangler, can hit speeds of 149 miles per hour, and drive through water nearly 3 feet deep, all for less than half the price of a Mercedes G-Wagen. All of this is why it is an Autoblog Editor’s Pick with a score of 8.5 out of 10. But can you sleep in it?

Your first thought may be, why? And that’s a valid question. Most cars weren’t designed with sleeping in mind, but a lot of people do just that, whether out of necessity or as an easy way to get out and go camping without having to pack a tent. I myself have fallen into the latter category time and time again, most recently relying on the room in the back of my 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek for a weeklong camping trip. That trip was fine, but we’re not here to talk about an 8-year-old Subaru, let’s see how the Defender fares.

Space

The biggest thing when it comes to camping in your car is whether there is enough space in it for you and possibly a partner to lay down comfortably. This also depends on whether the seats fold flat, which in the Defender 110, they do. Once down, there is roughly 64” of space lengthwise from the door to where the seat cushions are folded forward, which you can see pictured above. 64 inches isn’t a lot, even to me, a relatively short guy at 5’7”. Thankfully the cushions that are folded forward act as somewhat of a nice pillow allowing for a few more inches of room before you hit the front seats. If you don’t mind your feet dangling a bit and you put your head towards the rear of the car, you have much more room, about 77 inches worth, or the length of a full-size mattress. 

If you happen to do most of your camping alone, you’re in luck, kind of. By lying diagonally you have considerably more space, 76 inches in fact.

Width-wise, at its narrowest point the Defender is 45 inches across, right in between the width of a twin mattress and a full mattress, which is a solid amount for two people sleeping side by side in a car. The Defender is quite a bit wider towards the middle of the vehicle as well if you need the room. 

Height is something that isn’t considered a lot when it comes to sleeping in your car, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that waking up in the middle of the night and smacking your head on the ceiling when you sit up is no fun. Thankfully I don’t have that problem in the Defender, which is 36” at its lowest point, enough room to allow me to sit up straight with an inch or two to spare. 

Power sources

When I go camping, most of my days are spent hiking or fishing or taking photos, and I usually have my phone on me. That means at the end of the day I need to charge it, which is usually where a power brick comes in handy. Thankfully in the Defender that isn’t needed because in the rear there are plenty of ways to charge your phone, including two 5-volt USB ports in the back of the front seats, two more USB-C ports near the bottom of the center console in the rear, and three 12V auxiliary power outlets, one at the very rear and two next to the USB-C ports.

I tested these out when the vehicle was turned off, and all of them worked, so you don’t need the vehicle running to charge your phone. That being said, plugging in multiple accessories and charging them while never turning on your car is a great way for a long camping trip to end with a dead battery, and though it’s unlikely, you may just want to play it safe.

Storage

Storage is an area where the Defender really shines, from up front all the way to the rear. In the very back of the vehicle there are plenty of places to store your gear, including a mesh net on the passenger side of the cargo area and a pocket in the rear door itself. Next to the side rear windows are two elastic loops that each fit a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle perfectly, and imperfectly fit up to a 48-ounce Nalgene bottle for you hydro homies out there. There is additional storage in each door, of which there are four on the 110, and seat-back storage for small things like tablets. There are also a number of hooks around the cabin allowing you to hang wherever you like. 

Finally, because the full-size spare is attached to the rear door, if you lift up the floorboard of the cargo area you’ll find even more storage space for items you don’t need immediate access to. 

My favorite storage accessory is up front in the center console: the available fridge, which will keep your drinks and food cold on long road trips, though I would still bring along a cooler if you plan on camping, as it is small. I was able to fit six 12-ounce cans, along with a box of SnoCaps inside, and it was about as full as it can get. My 48-ounce Nalgene was a no-go. 

Greenhouse

There are few vehicles on the market that offer as many windows as the Land Rover Defender. With one giant sunroof, four additional alpine windows, a front and rear windshield and eight separate side windows, the interior of the Defender is open and airy and feels a lot larger than it actually is, both when sitting inside while driving and while parked at a campsite. 

Verdict

While the Defender is a great vehicle to sleep in, it isn’t perfect. All of those 15 windows that make the greenhouse feel airy and much larger than it actually is also need to be covered up if you want any kind of privacy or want to sleep past dawn. That’s a seemingly tedious, though easy fix that almost anyone can do with the help of a YouTube tutorial. Additionally, at 65 inches long, the lie-flat section of the interior can feel a bit cramped, especially for those who are much taller than I am. 

The biggest criticism I have, though, is that there is no way to open the tailgate from the inside of the car. My Crosstrek suffers from the same issue. In the morning there’s few things better than just being able to press a button on the key fob or inside the vehicle and have the rear door open, ushering in the views, sounds and smells of nature with it.

All things considered, for a vehicle that wasn’t designed with sleeping in mind, the Defender 110 is a comfortable place to lay your head for a night or two, especially if you have a nice sleeping pad and sleeping bag or quilt for those chilly nights, which is why we have rated it 4 out of 5 Zs. 

The gear I used:

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