FindItMore | Amazingly, the 2020 Land Rover Defender is a completely new vehicle that does not share a single component with previous models. Designed from the ground up and including features like fully-independent suspension and hybridized powertrain, it leaves the technology of old Defenders in the dustbin of automotive history. Let’s take a closer look.
2020 Land Rover Defender Design
The original Defender was born during a different era. Back in the early ‘80s, many roads were still unpaved and 4×4 ride standards were, well, casual. In contrast, the 2020 Defender needs to be relevant to the modern world as dirt roads are getting harder to find, and most of us now live in suburbia or cities.
Still, the new Defender looks strikingly similar to the old one. Both are boxy and they both sport a rear-mounted spare tire. The new one also includes the old one’s signature alpine windows in the curve of the roof—a functional nod to Land Rover’s agricultural heritage. Options like a bench front seat, rubber floors, and steel wheels are still available. The old Defender was available with either a 90 or 110-inch wheelbase, known as the Defender 90 and 110, and the new Defender will also be available in 90 and 110 versions.
Two Available Engines
In the United States, the Defender will initially be available with two engine options: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and a 3.0-liter inline-six fitted with a mild hybrid system. Referred to as the P300, the four-cylinder motor makes a very healthy 296 horsepower. The P400 models assist the six-cylinder motor with both a turbocharger and a belt-integrated starter motor that assists the engine with electric power, for a combined 395 horsepower. Both motors are paired with Defenders excellent eight-speed automatic transmission, operated through a dash-mounted shifter.
Heavy Duty Platform
The new Defender’s chassis (D7X) is based on the unibody platform that underpins the current Discovery, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover. Land Rover says testing has shown D7X to be three times stiffer than the strongest ladder chassis it’s ever tested. The platform has proven to be extremely robust in vehicles like the new Discovery and is upgraded with even more robust components.
The new Defender is one of the most capable SUVs ever sold. Its fully-independent suspension architecture is industry-leading for durability and offers wheel travel figures of 10.5 inches in the front, and 12.4 inches in the rear. Put the suspension in off-road mode, and the Defender achieves a maximum approach angle of 38 degrees. As far as payloads, the Defender is capable of carting around nearly 1,800 pounds of gear and according to Land Rover of South Dade, FL is capable of towing a hugely impressive 8,200 pounds.
Land Rovers are outdoor machines so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some cool outdoor accessories can be optioned with the Defender. Of course, you can get things like the snorkels, skip plates and heavy-duty roof racks but for real outdoors people several unique options exist. For example, an especially rugged, purpose-built rooftop tent is available as a Shower-rinse Kit. The Shower Rinse Kit offers two gallons of on-board water storage, along with a high-pressure nozzle. Its the perfect solution for cleaning up after a sweaty hike, or spraying off your muddy doggo. Other cool options are an integrated air compressor (for adjusting tire pressures on the trail,) a ladder that runs down the side of the vehicle, and a hidden winch mount. This is, by far, the most comprehensive list of overland-style accessories available directly from a vehicle manufacturer. And that means you’ll be able to roll the cost of these components into your monthly payments and have them supported by your factory warranty.
Thirty-two-inch tires will be standard, while wheel sizes range as large as 22 inches. Thankfully, there’s both an 18-inch steel wheel and an all-terrain tire option. The taller tire sidewall made possible by the smaller wheels will be far less puncture-prone off-road while delivering much-improved ride quality.
While P400 Defenders are fitted with 3.55 axle ratios, a factory 4.10 ratio is standard on the P300, so re-gearing for larger tires will be possible using factory parts. All models will use the same 2.93:1 low-range transfer case, and locking center and rear differentials are also standard.
All signs point to this new Defender being even more capable than the old one. It’s been tested everywhere. But, unlike the old one, this version has also been tested on all 154 turns of Germany’s famous Nurburgring race track. And that means this new one should be good at one thing the original never could quite handle: paved roads.