It's arrived. After some possibly intentional and some most certainly not intentional leaks giving us glimpses ahead of time, Land Rover's reborn icon, the Defender, has just been revealed at the Frankfurt auto show. A massive change from the utilitarian old-school SUV that came before, the brand says that this modern version should live up to the name while bringing it into the 21st century.
The Defender, and the Series Land Rovers that came before it are icons of off-road and getting work done. The British equivalent of the Jeep, they too moved beyond simple army runabout to a workhorse of rough and tumble. An aging architecture put an end to the model in 2016, but almost immediately, calls for a new Defender erupted from model loyalists.
The new model, like the old, probably won't win any contests for having the most curves. But boxy is what the Defender is all about, and the new model delivers much of the same rugged, boxy style that the original had. Just a little more rounded in the name of modern looks and aerodynamics. The design also maintains the short front and rear overhangs that helped make the original so capable off-road. Look closely, and it has the high-up windows, which Land Rover calls Alpine light windows, which were a staple of the enclosed-rear old Defenders. The new model gets the side-hinged tailgate and external spare tire too.
The new Defender will be available in both three-door 90 and five-door 110 body styles, calling back to the wheelbase-length-based names of the original. The 90 will offer seating for up to six passengers, as well as (in Europe, at least) a commercial van option while the 110 will be available with five, six, or 5+2 seating choices. That sixth passenger in both will be in a front-row center seat that Land Rover calls an occasional-use jump seat.
When it comes to the interior, Land Rover has gone with a slightly less vintage appearance. Still made up mostly of straight lines, this is not likely to be confused with anything but a luxury vehicle. It debuts a new infotainment interface called Pivi Pro. Land Rover says that the new interface supports over the air updates as well as being fast and responsive. There are 14 different modules in the vehicle that can be updated remotely, allowing for electronic revisions of many of the vehicle's systems. The interface uses a 10.0-inch touchscreen which Land Rover says uses an average of 50 percent fewer steps to perform a task than the previous-gen system. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and uses a backup battery that it says can initialize navigation in "just seconds" – for when you need to start navigating in a hurry. Which you might especially need if you're using the 90's optional full-length fabric roof. Designed to let passengers stand upright (when parked, of course) and get the "full safari experience."
Other tech features include a 3D surround camera with 360-degree views and 3D perspective. The system is designed to add visualizations for drivers using water-fording Wade Sensing and the ClearSight Ground View cameras that let the driver see "through" the hood to the ground in front. Similar cameras allow a view through passengers out the back on a rearview mirror display.
Canadian buyers will get a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder badged P300 as standard, delivering 296 hp. The uplevel offering is a 3.0L turbo inline-six badged the P400 that comes with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and has 395 hp, 406 lb-ft of torque, and a 0–100 km/h run of 6.1 seconds. The diesels offered elsewhere aren't on our list.
Both engines use an eight-speed automatic that's linked to a twin-speed transfer case allowing real low-range gearing for the new Defender. While it doesn't offer old-school manual locking, it does have a limited-slip for the center and rear differentials that can be enabled using the central touchscreen. Three settings for throttle and gearbox response as well as for steering and traction control let users pick the right settings for their terrain and allows four individual presets. Or put the Terrain Response 2 system in auto and let the computers handle it. Ground clearance of 291 mm, approach and departure angles of 38 and 40 degrees respectively (all with the air suspension set to off-road) and 900 mm water fording capability round out the list of off-road specs that Land Rover says was tested to "above and beyond the normal standard for SUV testing."
The Defender 110 will be arriving first, with the 90 coming later in 2020. Canada will get five trims of the Defender to start with, priced from $65,300 for the Defender 110 S. Defender 90 pricing will come closer to launch.
2020 Land Rover Defender 110 Canadian Pricing
Defender S: $65,300
Defender SE: $76,000
Defender HSE: $81,700
Defender First Edition: $83,400
Defender X: $93,600