2022 Land Rover Defender 90 First Edition vs. 2022 Ford Bronco Advanced 4x4 WildTrak: Off the beaten path.

This week: Land Rover Defender.

Price: $66,475 as tested. Just a trailer hitch receiver and off-road tires added about $1,000.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes that it’s “even more capable off-road than other Land Rovers, so long truck-like ride, well-designed cabin,” but not that “even the most efficient engine isn’t that efficient, steeply priced extras, midrange six-cylinder lacks punch.”

Marketer’s pitch: “Capable of great things.”

Reality: Pleasant, comfortable, and ready for off-roading, but with some oversights.

Out in the country: Buyers who like to ride high and at least pretend to be outdoorsy have two new old options available challenging the Jeep Wrangler’s premier status: the Defender and the Bronco.

What’s new: Finally, after years of waiting, the Land Rover Defender returned to production for the 2021 model year.

The Defender most closely hews to the iconic, spare-tire-on-the-hood Series 1 Land Rover, first made in 1948. The Defender came along in the early 1980s and rode on through the mid-2010s.

Now the Defender is back. The 90 tested is the smaller five- or six-passenger version, while the larger 110 offers seating for as many as seven.

Up to speed: But forget thinking this will be a big, overtaxed behemoth. The 395-horsepower 3.0-liter inline 6 — with a mild hybrid assist from a 48-volt battery that adds some oomph and stores power — gets the vehicle to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, according to Motor Trend’s test of a larger 110 model.

An optional supercharged V-8 creates 122 more horses and shaves 1.3 seconds off that 0-60 time. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four, which, honestly, I’d like to try, because I’m that patient.

A plug-in hybrid is tantalizingly pictured on the LR media site, but further investigation reveals you need to start packing for a tantalizing move to tantalizing Europe.

Shifty: The joystick-style gearshift pushes forward for Reverse and pulls for Drive, with shiftability on the side. The 8-speed transmission does all things fairly well.

On the road: The Defender continues the Land Rover tradition of providing great comfort over rocks and highways both.

Winding country roads are not fun, but they are also not a terrific challenge. The Wrangler requires thinking, “OK, well, that’s just the way she handles.” I never detected a lot of steering corrections in the Defender, and highway riding was just fine, even with the big tires.

Off the road: Of course, here it shines. I took it through some snowy and muddy dirt roads and found the vehicle a great companion. Never a slip, just kept on going forward, and the Land Rover even remains composed on big ruts and rocks.

The dashboard features a button that brings up a wide variety of drive modes on the touchscreen.

Driver’s Seat: The Defender as tested seated six, with a middle seat in front that folds down to create an awkward armrest with cupholders.

The old-fashioned tall, straight windows run visibility rings around today’s slanted nightmares. And the dashboard is a beautiful sight to behold.

The info menus can keep drivers occupied — the little dot icon that represents “OK” is not what you click to select your readout. No, you have to arrow back up to the menu header. Harder than it has to be, and we all know someone is going to wreck it trying to figure this out on the fly.

Friends and stuff: Getting into the backseat is also harder than it has to be.

Flip the switch on the corner of the seat, and it bounces toward the dashboard as you’d expect, but the seat now sits too tight against the door frame to even lean across to grab something. So then press the button and wait patiently for the seat to slide forward. When finished, the seat does not return to its original spot, so patiently slide back.

A manual slide is standard, Land Rover folks tell me, so save your money.

Rear-seat legroom is OK, headroom snug and foot room is quite tight. Three people can fit across comfortably, but the middle person will have fight against a big console. The seat bottom itself is pretty short.

Cargo space is 15.6 cubic feet in the back with 58.3 when the seat is folded. The seat folds but needs the headrests removed to make a flat floor. A lockable security box keeps electronics safe and out of sight.

And, not unexpectedly, the rear door swings open.

Also, no top-off options are available for the Defender this time around.

Easy peasy: While answering my questions, a Land Rover media rep linked to the online owner’s manual, and I have to commend it for being about the easiest I’ve seen yet for navigation.

Play some tunes: The 400-watt Meridian stereo sound was so disappointing that it ruined the experience for me.

People who enjoyed the raptastic Super Bowl halftime show might find it plays just fine, but I had to turn the subwoofer the whole way off to stop the thudding. Despite controls for bass, treble, and subwoofer, the best I could get was a rattly treble sound or a hollow bass drum. C+.

Operation was not too bad, with an easy-to-follow touchscreen and a volume knob.

Keeping warm and cool: Dials control temperature and seat heaters, and buttons operate everything else. The traction and heater controls are all kind of meshed together randomly.

Fuel economy: I averaged just under 16 mpg with about a 70/30 highway/deep woods breakdown.

Where it’s built: Nitra, Slovakia

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Defender reliability to be a 2 out of 5.

Next week: 2022 Ford Bronco