Land Rover just unveiled its long-awaited new Defender SUV. Take a closer look at this redesigned legend.
- At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, Land Rover unveiled its all-new Defender SUV.
- The Land Rover Defender has a rich legacy, dating back over 70 years. But it was discontinued in 2016 — and hadn’t been legal in the US since the late 1990s. The new version is a revival that after many absent years will bring the Defender back to the US market.
- The long-wheelbase Defender 110 is scheduled to arrive next spring, priced at just under $50,000 with a four-cylinder engine. The most expensive Defender will be $81,000. A short-wheelbase SUV is expected in late 2020.
- The new Defender was tested in a wide range of challenging environments to live up to its off-road legacy, but the vehicle is more stylish and high-tech than Defenders of the past.
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Few SUVs have as much pure off-road credibility as the legendary Land Rover Defender. The Ultimate Expedition Machine dates back seven decades and has done it all, from crossing mountains to fording rivers and everything imaginable in between.
The previous-generation Defender traces back to the early 1980s (updated in the 1990s), but it fell short of US regulations in the late ’90s and hasn’t been available in the American market since. The vehicle was also discontinued in 2016, with the expectation that an updated, redesigned SUV would follow.
After a wait, it’s arrived. Land Rover pulled the cover off at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Here’s a closer look at the new Defender, in all its glory:
The all-new Land Rover Defender debuted at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.
The Defender has set a formidable ruggedness standard for over seven decades. The outgoing model dated to the early 1980s but was put out to pasture in 2016.
A typical Defender adventure included some partially submerged time.
While the outgoing Defender, with its boxy styling, proclaimed a utilitarian mission, the redesigned Defender arguably projects a slightly less no-nonsense demeanor.
“The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it,” Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s head designer, said in a statement.
“This is a new Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable — a visually compelling 4×4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment.”
The Defender will ultimately be available in both two- and four-door configurations: the 110 is the long-wheelbase version, while the 90 is shorter.
According to Land Rover, six trim designations will be offered: Defender, Defender S, Defender SE, Defender HSE, Defender X, and Defender First Edition.
The new Defender might lose some cred with the purists because it won’t be a made-in-England machine. Manufacturing will be handled in Slovakia.
Fears should be put to rest by JLR’s extensive torture-testing of the new Defender.
The SUV has negotiated everything from rocky, roadless terrain …
… to Germany’s famed Nürburgring race track.
A Defender isn’t a Defender if it isn’t up to the challenge of adventures in rough country.
The SUV needs to be able to rock-crawl with its four-wheel-drive system …
… manage extreme inclines …
… ford rivers …
… and get down and dirty and wet and muddy. The Defender can deal with water almost 3 feet deep, and it can tow more than 8,000 pounds. Its Terrain Response 2 tech can be customized by the driver, depending on conditions.
“Raised air intakes are a vital addition in dusty locations, protecting the engine by delivering cleaner air from their elevated position, and the Defender is available with a close-fitting semi-integrated design that fits neatly onto the side-mounted engine air intake in the front fender, to preserve performance in dusty environments,” Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement.
Bring on the deserts!
That said, the Defender has also been designed for less demanding duty.
In a statement, Jaguar Land Rover outlined several add-on “packs” that owners could use to accessorize their Defender for different obligations.
The Explorer Pack provides an expedition roof rack, an exterior side-mounted gear carrier, wheel-arch protection, and a spare wheel cover. “A matte black hood decal, featuring ’90’ or ‘110’ cut-out detailing, completes the Explorer Pack’s head-turning appearance,” Jaguar Land Rover said.
The Adventure Pack offers a portable rinse system with a 1.7-gallon-pressurized water reservoir, trunk-mounted integrated air compressor, and an exterior side-mounted gear carrier.
The Country Pack adds wheel-arch protection, a rear scuff plate, the aforementioned rinse system, and a cargo partition.
The Urban Pack has the rear scuff plate and the spare wheel cover as well as a front undershield.
Two powertrains will be offered to US buyers. The P300 turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 296 horsepower and promises a zero-to-60-mph time of just under eight seconds, while the P400 is a mild hybrid six-cylinder making 395 horsepower, with a sub-six-second zero-to-60 time. Both engines are yoked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While on-road, drivers and passengers will benefit from “emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, cruise control and speed-limiter functions, driver condition monitor, and front and rear parking aids,” the company said. Safety first!
Unlike some of the hardtail SUVs of old, the Defender’s D7x engineering, as explained by Jaguar Land Rover, makes use of a lightweight, stiff aluminum monocoque assembly and four-wheel independent suspension, versus a body-on-frame steel construction with rear leaf-springs.
The interiors combine versatility and durability with premium appointments for the upscale trims, including leather upholstery and wood details. A non-leather premium wool upholstery treatment is also an option.
The Defender will be a connected expedition vehicle. An available Online Pack provides “unlimited data for music streaming, weather updates, and calendar information via the infotainment screen,” the automaker said. WiFi will also be an option, via subscription.
A top-range Meridian audio system will have a 14-speaker, 700-watt setup available.
The Defender 110 starts at $49,900 and goes on sales next spring. The Defender 90 follows later in 2020. The most expensive configuration of the 110 is the X edition with the inline six engine, priced at about $81,000.
The world has been waiting three years for its new Defender, and Land Rover has delivered with style and purpose.