Land Rover Ltd.’s all-new Defender SUV is larger, more comfortable and much more technically advanced than the previous model, which was discontinued in 2016 after a 67-year run.
The carmaker took the wraps off the second-generation Defender at this week’s Frankfurt auto show. Sales will start next spring with the five-door “110” model, which will be followed by a three-door “90” variant later in 2020. Land Rover eventually plans to sell the SUV in 128 countries.
The Defender is built on a heavily adapted version of Land Rover’s D7x aluminum platform that carries the larger Discovery SUV. The carmaker says the Defender’s unibody architecture is the stiffest structure it has produced—as much as three times stiffer than a typical body-on-frame truck design.
Sitting on a 102-inch wheelbase, the three-door Defender stretches to 180 inches from bumper to bumper—making it significantly longer than the Jeep Wrangler and nearly as long as the previous 110 five-door. Both versions of the new Defender are 79 inches wide and nearly 78 inches tall.
The base 90 model can accommodate as many as six people, while the extended wheelbase 110 can be configured with five, six or seven seats—with a front “jump seat” that also can be used for storage. A van version of the 90 and a larger version of the 110 (with seating for eight) also are said to be in the works.
The new Defender retains several styling cues from the iconic first-generation model. This includes the boxy design with short overhangs, rising roof line, rounded headlights inside a squared-off housing and an upright rear with a single-hinged, side-opening cargo door.
A folding fabric roof will be available on the 110 to enable a “safari experience.” Among the 170 optional accessories are a roof rack with access ladder, bumper guards, winch, roof tent, intake snorkel and a waterproof storage box mounted on the side of the vehicle.
Off-road capabilities are enhanced via a full-time four-wheel-drive system with low and high ranges. Other goodies include an electrically adjustable independent suspension, hill launch and assist, variable terrain settings, an active locking rear differential and manually locking center unit. A low-mounted camera allows drivers to view and maneuver around nearby ground obstacles.
Land Rover says the new off-roader has 11 inches of ground clearance, 35-inch wading depth, a 38° approach angle and 40° departure angle. The vehicle can support a nearly 2,000 lb payload, 660 lb roof load and tow 7,700 lbs.
In Europe, the Defender will be launched with an array of 4- and 6-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines. The latter includes a mild-hybrid system mated to a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that generates a combined 395 hp and 506 lb-ft of torque. A plug-in hybrid variant likely will be added later.