IT'S ALMOST HERE

The New Land Rover Defender: What You Need To Know


September 9, 2019 Cars By
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After nearly a year of hype, the 2020 Land Rover Defender is set to launch. The new vehicle will be a complete redesign of the old Defender, which was discontinued in 2016. It will attempt to recapture the character of the old off-roader while meeting the safety, emissions and luxury demands of the modern era.

The new Defender should be a much more reasonable daily driver than the previous SUV. (Land Rover has been testing it at the Nürburgring, and presumably not just as more than a lark.) Let’s hope it does not end up being a massive disappointment.

Here’s what we know ahead of the launch.

Will it be sold in the United States? Yes, the Defender is coming back to America, for the first time since 1997.

What platform will it use? The Defender is expected to switch from a body-on-frame truck platform to unibody construction, like the rest of the Land Rover lineup uses. This change will let the Defender drop weight and should improve fuel economy, driving dynamics and safety.

What type of suspension will it have? The Defender should switch from a solid-axle suspension (like the Jeep Wrangler) to independent front and rear suspensions. Expect it to employ an air suspension similar to the Range Rover. These changes should deliver a far smoother on-road driving experience.

What body styles will be offered? The 2020 Defender should have two body-style variants to start out with, a short two-door with five or six seats called Defender 90, and a long four-door with five to seven seats called Defender 110. Reports suggest a three-row (Defender 130) model with eight seats will arrive later. Land Rover has not ruled out an eventual pickup truck down the road.

What engines will it use? Product slides have apparently been leaked. There should be a base 2.0-liter inline-four engine making around 300 horsepower. Car and Driver says it is “more than likely” the Defender will get a new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with a mild hybrid system (similar to the Mercedes-AMG 53 cars) around 400 hp. A plug-in hybrid from the Range Rover 400e could be an option. There have also been reports of a six-cylinder diesel for the U.S.

Will there be a manual transmission? No. Jaguar Land Rover did have a manual in the F-Type, but that is being killed off due to a low take rate. Expect no manual option.

Will it be as capable off-road as the old one? That’s the intention. The Defender should still be among the top available off-roaders. Expect angles and wading depth to rival if not exceed those of the formidable Jeep Wrangler. It should have technological capabilities including a permanent four-wheel-drive system, an advanced multi-terrain system, and electronic locking front and rear differentials.

What will it look like? We’ve seen the new Defender under camouflage. What appears to be the unmasked version has been spied on a James Bond movie set and leaked to Jalopnik.

What will it cost? Land Rover is a more premium brand these days than when the Defender last sold in America. Educated guesses peg the base model at starting north of $50,000.

When is the launch? The New Defender will debut on September 10 at 4:00 am Eastern Daylight Time. Here are the full details.

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