Maybe it’s the angular look. Maybe it’s the utilitarian design. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever the reason is, the Land Rover Defender has managed to entrench itself as one of the most iconic off-roaders in its three decades in the market. Which is why many were saddened when it officially ceased production just a few short years ago. Turns out, that hiatus wasn’t for long, as the 2020 Land Rover Defender was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
That’s right, the Defender is officially back. And they didn’t just pick up where the vehicle left off, either, as the new vehicle doesn’t share a single component with its iconic predecessors, essentially rebooting the model into something entirely new.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender still adopts the same burly dimensions as the ones before it, albeit in a more sculpted body that isn’t afraid of showing off a round corner here and there. Not only did it abdicate its exclusively angular origins, it’s completely shed off its traditionally minimalist skin, adopting a gaggle of modern technologies that will probably be enough to make any Defender purist shriek. Seriously, they even put a computer on the darn thing. That’s right, the Defender is no longer the specialist 4×4 you remember, but a fully-fledged luxury SUV.
Despite the few rounded corners, it still retains the familiar silhouette of its predecessors, so it’s still a big, boxy, and rough-looking machine with short overhangs and a rear-mounted spare tire. It uses the same chassis that underpins most of Land Rover’s current range of SUVs, albeit in an upgraded form designed to support even rougher off-road abuse, while a fully-independent air suspension gives it five inches of ride height adjustability, a ground clearance of 11.5 inches, a wading depth of 35.4 inches, and an approach angle of 38 degrees, easily making it one of the most capable off-road machines you can take to the backcountry.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender will be the first vehicle from the automaker to get the seventh-generation of their Terrain Response off-road aids, which offer a vast range of configurable settings for traction control, suspension, brake, throttle, and more, giving the driver an erstwhile unprecedented level of assistance for moving through difficult terrain. All those settings, by the way, can be controlled through the dash-mounted touchscreen, which can also show the feed from a forward-facing camera that shows the sections of the trail obscured by the hood and a rear-view camera if you want to better see what’s going on behind you. Suffice to say, it’s putting that onboard computer to good work.
Of course, utility remains a primary focus for the Defender. As such, it can carry payloads of up to 1,800 pounds, all while towing cargo up to 8,200 pounds, making this as capable on that end as the earlier models. At launch, the vehicle can be ordered in two configurations (two-door and four-door), with one of two engines (a 300-horsepower 2.0-liter I4 and a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter I6), and two wheel sizes (101.9 and 119 inches).
The 2020 Land Rover Defender will be priced starting at $49,000.