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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Lai

2020 Land Rover Defender: Worthy of the Icon’s Name?

Photo courtesy of Land Rover.

Well before we begin, here are the specs I’m sure some of you are curious about:

The new 2020 Land Rover Defender is expected to be released in the US during the Spring of 2020. It will first come in the four-door extended wheelbase 110 model with the two-door 90 model coming later in the year. Two powertrains will be available: the P300 with a 300HP turbo-charged inline four and the P400 with a 400HP mild hybrid system. Pricing starts at $49,900 for the lowest end P300 Standard and tops out at $80,900 for the P400 X.

Okay with that out of the way, here are my thoughts.

One of the greatest challenges for car companies when it comes to reviving an iconic name plate is to capture the spirit of the original without pissing off most of the original fanbase. They can do it well you end up with the likes of the modern Mustang, the 2005 Camaro, or the Ford GT or they can just not give a crap and end up with a monstrosity like the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. However, since Land Rover decided to actually try, I’m sure they spent countless hours figuring out how to bring the rugged and utilitarian nature of the original while trying to bring a vehicle that hadn’t had a major redesign since the 1980’s into the 21st century. With the fear of angry Defender fans coming to harvest their organs should they get it wrong, the designers and engineers at Land Rover have finally come up with this… and I like it.

Photos courtesy of Land Rover.

Personally, I have never paid that much attention to the original Defender nor have I researched the culture and fanfare behind it. However, just by glancing at its appearance I knew what sort of business this machine was up for. Though I’m sure this new design doesn’t tickle everyone’s fancy… (wait, sorry, that sentence needs to be more rugged)... Though I’m sure this design doesn’t give a big meaty grab at everyone’s fancy, I think the folks over at Land Rover have still been able to capture that rugged off-road spirit in it’s lines. Sure the lines may be smoother to match Land Rover’s more modern and luxurious aesthetic, but the new car’s more upright square design, rear mounted spare tire, and squircle headlights serve to remind everyone that it’s occupation is still “Defender”. Also, those 18 inch steelies are sweeeeet.

Now the interior was the part that I was more worried about to be honest. With Land Rover being a lot more focused on luxury nowadays, I was sure they were going to fill it with acres of leather and wood to a point where drivers would be scared to bring even a speck of dust into the cabin (Mercedes G-Wagon, I’m looking at you!). However, again I am pleasantly surprised. The designers have really found a way to perfectly balance utility with a design that doesn’t look like it was made by Tonka. The exposed screws on the door panels, the idea to use the car’s structural components as a part of the dashboard design, and using tougher material on the outer edge of the leather seats are all ingenious ways to bring the worlds of luxury and utility together. My favorite bit, however, has to be the fact that you can get a middle jump seat for the front row. This way the middle passenger no longer becomes the human projectile in an accident when they don’t have their seatbelt on. That job is now reserved for the front middle passenger! Also, I’m sure there are practical uses for the jump seat as well… Please always wear your seatbelts guys.

Photos courtesy of Land Rover.

Anyway, back to the question at hand. Does this vehicle deserve to wear the Defender name? I think it does. All that is left to do is see if it can walk the walk and be a capable off-roader. Knowing Land Rover, I’m sure that will be no problem.

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