The Land Rover Defender is right up there with off-roading icons like the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, just to name a few. For the longest time, Land Rover has kept its Defender unchanged, which has also led it to gain quite a huge following through its existence. Fast forward to the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, and Land Rover has unveiled its much anticipated 2020 Defender.
From the outside, the design is distinctively Defender, albeit with a modern look. It is simple yet very futuristic in execution thanks to the extensive use of smoother angles, rounded edges, and streamlined panels. The front and rear overhangs are short, while the 291 mm ground clearance all contribute to giving the all-new Defender excellent approach, breakover, and departure angles, which are 38, 28 and 40 degrees, respectively. Do note that these figures are slightly less compared to its predecessor because the car’s body was completely redesigned from the ground up to pass global safety regulations. Nevertheless, the Defender’s figures are still a lot better than anything that’s offered in its segment right now, especially its 900 mm wading depth.
There are numerous customization options for the all-new Defender, which include 12 wheel designs, ranging from white-painted 18-inch purpose-built pressed steel rims to 22-inch alloy wheels, as well as a large catalogue of 170 accessories available. To simplify things, Land Rover created four distinct preset Accessory Packs: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban. There are also six colors to choose from, which means that there is literally a Land Rover Defender to suit everyone.
The interior, meanwhile, is also a complete revolution, featuring a more modern and minimalist design. There only a few buttons, as most functions have been relegated to the new touch screen infotainment system. This, along with the fully digital instrument cluster and large color head-up display form the Land Rover Electronic Vehicle Architecture (EVA 2.0) which supports Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) updates. While the modern interior is definitely luxurious, Land Rover has kept some parts of the interior utilitarian, especially those that will be susceptible to wear-and-tear.
Various interior options can be added to the Defender, the most interesting of which is the Front Row Center Seat (aka a jump seat), which allows seating for three at the front. This means that the Defender 90 can seat five or six people, while the Defender 110 can have five, six, or seven occupants. An option exclusive to the Defender 90 is a fabric roof, which allows for open-top off-roading.
Just like the exterior, the interior is highly customizable, featuring a range of textile choices for the standard model, while S and SE trims feature Grained Leather combined with a durable Robust Woven Textile featuring higher Decitex fibers for added strength in areas susceptible to the most wear and tear. Stepping up to the HSE variant brings high grade Windsor Leather, while the Defender X features Windsor Leather in combination with Steelcut Premium Textile accent for enhanced durability. There’s also a wide choice of interior finishes, including rugged rough-cut Walnut or Natural Smoked Dark Oak Veneer.
Whereas the previous Defender utilized a body-on-frame construction, this new one now rides on an all-new, aluminum-intensive D7x unibody platform. The resulting body gives the Defender superior on-road performance compared to its predecessors. Fortunately, when it comes to the rough stuff, the D7x is more than capable to handle whatever nature throws at it, as this new platform is the stiffest Land Rover has ever created—even three times more rigid than any body-on-frame design.
Ditching its solid rear axle are a fully independent suspension system fitted with coil springs as standard on the short wheelbase Defender 90. For more flexibility and comfort, a fully adjustable air suspension is optional on the Defender 90 and standard on the long wheelbase Defender 110. There’s also a new twin-speed transfer box and a new four-wheel drive system, which debuts a new Configurable Terrain Response. Compared to previous versions, the new one is able to fine-tune the various functions of the vehicle, in addition to preset modes such as Rock, Mud, Sand, Snow, just to name a few.
Other off-roading tech includes Wade Sensing, Land Rover All-Terrain Progress Control, and its ClearSight Ground View cameras, which lets you see through the hood via the infotainment system.
Under the hood of the Defender are four engine choices. This includes a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbodiesels in two states of tune: 197 hp and 237 hp. The other two are both petrol engines, the first one being a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo petrol producing 296 hp and the other being a mild-hybrid 3.0-liter inline-6 petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbo and a 48-volt electric motor. The mild-hybrid system produces a total output of 395 hp and can sprint from 0-100 kph in just 6.1 seconds.
As expected in modern cars nowadays, the Defender will be fitted as standard or optionally with various advanced driver safety features, ranging from the usual Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Pre-Collision Monitor, Rear Traffic Monitor, Clear Exit Monitor, Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Condition Monitor, just to name a few.
The all-new Defender will launch in spring 2020 for the long wheelbase Defender 110, while the short-wheelbase Defender 90 will follow shortly.