The 2020 Land Rover Defender 90 and 110 Are Officially Here!

The reinvented icon returns to the world's roads and trails—including in America.

To call the Land Rover Defender an icon is to understate the matter a bit. For most of the second half of the 20th century, the Defender was to most of the globe what an off-road vehicle looked like if it wasn't a Jeep. But in 2016, Land Rover quit making the Defender, and the automotive world felt the loss. Fortunately, reincarnation is real when it comes to cars, and now the Defender is back once again—and seemingly better than ever.

Right out of the gate, the 2020 Land Rover Defender demands attention with its blend of sleekness and boxiness. The look is at once fresh and yet clearly tied to the slab-sided, much harder-bitten edges of the Defenders of yore. Not everyone will like it, but then that's a hallmark of good—or at least compelling—design. From where we sit, it's just about the best Land Rover could have done, especially as the company went back to the drawing board after the poorly received DC110 concepts from earlier this decade. Reinventing a legend is never easy; just ask the folks who did the most recent Wrangler, or the new Corvette.

But does the new Defender have the mettle to match its visual might? On paper, it sure looks like it does. While it might come off as a bit of a compact SUV, especially in two-door Defender 90 form, it's actually a bit of a bruiser in all guises.

All versions of Defender come standard with permanent four-wheel drive and an adjustable-height suspension capable of raising the vehicle by 2.9 to 3.0 inches. Two main variants are available, the aforementioned two-door Defender 90 and the longer, four-door Defender 110. Despite reusing the names of the '80s Defenders, which were derived from their wheelbases as measured in inches, the Defender 90's wheelbase is actually 101.9 inches long, while the Defender 110's is  119.0. Perhaps Land Rover decided Defender 102 and Defender 119 didn't quite have the same ring.

The 90 seats either five or six depending on seating configuration, and it comes with just one engine option: a 395-hp (at 5,500 rpm), 406-lb-ft (from 2,000-5,000 rpm) 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder with a mild hybrid boost system. The six pairs to a ZF 8HP76 eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite being the smallest Defender, the 90 still tips the scales at a stated 4,830 pounds. Nevertheless, the 90 also scampers to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 129 mph. Despite the athleticism, the 90 is also rated to tow the same as its bigger brother: 8,201 pounds.

The Defender 110 offers the same five- or six-seat arrangements as the 110, or it can be had with an alternative 5+2 layout. It also can be spec'd with the same inline six-cylinder mild-hybrid engine in its top-spec trim, but flips the script a bit on the smaller variant by offering a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder sans hybrid assist. Despite its smaller displacement and lack of electric-motor assist, the 2.0 cranks out a stout 296 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. The four-cylinder uses a slightly different set of gear ratios in its ZF 8HP45 eight-speed automatic, but all engines and body variants get the same 2.93:1 transfer case. In four-cylinder form, the Defender 110 weighs between 4,815 and 4,940 pounds depending on seating configuration, while the six-cylinder 110 ranges from 5,035 to 5,165 pounds. The maximum payload for the new Defender duo is 1,984 pounds, the maximum static roof load is 661 pounds, and the maximum dynamic roof load is 370 pounds.

For either variant, the Terrain Response 2 system handles the magic in figuring out which settings are best for which conditions if left in Auto mode, or the driver can select the mode to suit the surface (gravel, rocks, snow, etc.) directly. Center and rear limited-slip differentials ensure off-road traction and their locking functions are controlled via the touchscreen. Three settings are also available to tune throttle and gearbox response, traction control, and steering effort, allowing further off-road driving customization. Up to four driver profiles can be saved, too, allowing the vehicle to be easily programmed for different styles or uses. There's even a Wade Sensing feature which allows the driver to know the depth of water under the vehicle to avoid exceeding the 35.4-inch maximum wading depth.

Four flavors of accessory packs are also available for the new Defender 90 and 110: Explorer, Adventure, Country, and Urban. The Explorer pack includes a roof rack, exterior side-mount gear carrier, wheel-arch protectors, and a spare-wheel cover, as well as a matte-black hood decal. The Adventure pack includes a 1.7-gallon pressurized water reservoir that feeds a portable rinse device, a trunk-mounted air compressor, and the same side-mount gear carrier as the Explorer; a built-in backpack is also included. The Country pack offers wheel-arch protectors, the portable rinse system, a loadspace partition, and a rear scuff plate. Finally, the Urban pack gets the rear scuff plate, spare wheel cover, and front "undershield," plus bright metal pedals inside the cabin.

Apart from the extra doors and wheelbase, the optional seating layout, and a few off-road performance metrics, the only other main technical differences between the Defender 90 and the 110 come down to turning radius (37.1 feet for the 90; 42.1 ft for the 110) and fuel capacity (the 90's smaller body means it stows 0.4 fewer gallons than the 110 and its 23.8-gallon tank). It's the off-road performance metrics that will get the real dirtheads salivating, however. Even the long-wheelbase Defender 110's numbers are impressive:

  • Approach Angle: 38 degrees
  • Departure Angle: 40 degrees
  • Ramp Breakover Angle: 28 degrees
  • Wading Depth: 35.4 inches
  • Ground Clearance: 11.5 inches
  • Maximum Ascent: 45 degrees
  • Maximum Side Slope Gradient: 45 degrees

The Defender 90 one-ups just one of those figures, with a 31-degree ramp breakover angle.

The 2020 Defender will also be the launch vehicle for Land Rover's new PIVI Pro infotainment system, which includes the ability to receive over-the-air software updates to ensure the latest in features and compatibility. A 10-inch touchscreen fronts the PIVI Pro system, which also includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Pricing for the Defender places it squarely in the premium segment; the base Defender with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder starts from $49,900 plus $1,025 destination fee, for a grand total of $50,925 plus tax, title, and license fees. The S trim steps the base price up to $54,375 (including destination). Upgrading to the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder bumps you into the SE trim and a $63,275 starting price; the HSE starts from $69,375, and the First Edition starts from $69,675. The top-tier Defender "X" jumps off from $81,925.

Full details on the Defender First Edition and the Defender X are yet to come, but we do know the Defender X will feature a gloss black inset hood design, and gloss black exterior trim, plus Starlight Satin-painted front and rear skid plates and other exterior details. Inside, the Defender X also gets Windsor leather and Steelcut premium textile materials.

The 2020 Defender 110 goes on sale in Spring of 2020, followed later in 2020 by the Defender 90—in the meantime, you can always hit up the configurator to spec your dream Defender.

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