Media Land Rover

Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender was certainly the most loved model within the entire Land Rover line and enjoyed a 65-year production lifespan until its final version launched in 2016 … but then, the resurrection! Land Rover thrilled enthusiasts with the announcement that a new 2020 model of the classic would be forthcoming – and that it would even be able in North America.

Historically speaking, the Land Rover Defender was an evolutionary step from the original Land Rovers built way back in 1948. The Defender debuted in the UK, US and Europe in 1983, but went by make and model number, i.e. the Land Rover 110. For 1991, however, Land Rover introduced a new model replete with spiffy new turbodiesel engine – and a proper brand mame: the Land Rover Discovery.

Thus was the traditional Land Rover rebranded as the Land Rover Defender. In classic rose-by-any-other-name fashion, the Defender remained Land Rover’s top-selling model and stayed in production until the last  to come off the assembly line, with the 2016 model the final old Defender.

Given the outstanding popularity of Land Rovers on both sides of the Atlantic, the decision to resurrect the model soon after the line’s demise in late 2019 was hardly surprising. The special edition 2020 Land Rover Defender goes by the model number L663, as opposed to the old series now called the L316s. The good news for aficionados in North America is that the 2020 model has been approved for sale in the U.S. and Canada, thus becoming the first Land Rover to be available in these countries since the late 1990s.

The touts: High-tech freedom of choice

Company PR is pushing the durability aspect of the new Defenders first and foremost, which is a good gambit in two ways: Appeal to the off-road adventurer and defiance of critics who cannot realistically test the durability of a single vehicle in a review which presumably carries a deadline. No matter; let’s just hope the promises are valid here.

To further expand upon the immediate appeal of the Defender, dealers are offering four “expansion packs” comprised of technology specific to the sub-model: Defenders may be outfitted with the “Adventure”, “County”, “Explorer” and “Urban” “packs.”

“All-terrain response” is something as a catchphrase among the vehicles Land Rover has inspired over 70 years, but the new Defender applies high-tech to the standard with an innovative “configurable terrain response” which allows the driver to ready the Defender’s systems for the upcoming route – a  kind of heads-up for the ’Rover.

The 2020 Defender: Instant classic or generic SUV?

Early reviews on the 2020 Defender have been positive to enthusiastic, particularly on the U.S. side, where a new Land Rover hasn’t been seen commercially for 25 years. Motor Trend gushed about “the beautifully executed surfacing and carefully considered detailing … means the new Defender looks stunningly contemporary yet endearingly timeless, an instant design classic.”

By contrast, Jalopnik recalled Land Rover’s experiment of 2008, the DC100, a sort of combination SUV/convertible roadster. While denying that the 2020 Defender is merely an update of the 10-year-old concept car, the reviewer did opine that “it suffers from the same forgettability that dogs the current Discovery. Without stickers and ladders and roof racks bolted to it, it’s not going to be hard to mistake it for Any Other SUV. It’s sleek, sure, but, it really leans on accessories to advertise its character…”

To read more takes on the 2020 Land Rover Defender and its potential follow-up models plus lots more news, views and commentary, stay tuned to this page of mediaLandRover.com!