Plenty of off-road SUV nameplates have a legacy to uphold. There’s usually a beloved predecessor that waits patiently for the newest generation to measure up. The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of these giants. So is the Jeep Wrangler. Another rugged vehicle in this category is the Land Rover Defender. It’s this last icon that comes to the forefront with the imminent release of the 2020 version.
You don’t see as many Land Rovers on North American roads as competing brands, but they are out there. They tend to turn some heads, too. But is this newest SUV platform simply a showy gimmick? Or will it earn the workhorse reputation last awarded to the brand over 20 years ago? Like many things these days, only time will tell. Until then, here’s the breakdown on the 2020 Land Rover Defender.
There are two different powerplants available on the 2020 Defender. You can choose between a four-cylinder and a six-cylinder. Model 110 vehicles are powered by a turbocharged 296-horsepower, 295 lb-ft torque 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 90 model will make the best of the pairing of a 48-volt electrical supercharged system and the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, capable of 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.
Both are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and capable of all-wheel drive. These Defenders make use of a twin-speed transfer case, which comes as standard equipment. When properly equipped, both models are capable of towing up to 8,200 pounds. Though a diesel variant won’t be conquering U.S. soil anytime soon, it’s a version we’re sure will be popular overseas.
Many familiar colors paint the exterior of the 2020 Defender, but there are some new shades available as well.
- Indus Silver
- Eiger Grey
- Santorini Black
- Fuji White
- Pangea Green
- Gondwana Stone
- Tasman Blue
Trimlines and Prices
When it comes to trim levels, understand that the terms “90” and “110” are used describe the wheelbases of the old versions. Just think of the 90 as the smaller two-door version and the 110 as the larger four-door model. These are the body styles available, which differentiate themselves from the available trim levels. Confused? Let us explain.
The 2020 Defender 110 comes in six variants. They are, in order, the Base, S, SE, HSE, First Edition, and X. Here are some of the features you’ll find on each trim level.
Capable of seating up to six people in 90 versions and up to eight people in the larger 110 version, the base Defender represents the bare bones package available. Standard equipment includes 18-inch steel wheels, a 10-inch touchscreen with the all-new Pivi Pro infotainment system, cloth seats, and the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto duo. Budget for at least $50,000.
Riding on 19-inch wheels, the S model upgrades seating to comfy leather. It also adds LED headlights with Auto High Beam Assist and 12-way powered front seats. It starts at $53,350.
Upgrade further to the SE model for bigger wheels and a premium audio experience. You’ll also get fog lights, some cosmetic upgrades on the exterior, and a couple of driver assist features — Clear Exit Monitor and Rear Traffic Monitoring. It also comes with the more powerful engine, which is the biggest selling point. Starting price for this trim is $62,250.
If you really feel like treating yourself, step up to the HSE edition. Here you’ll find a panoramic sunroof, upscale leather seating, and even more driver aids like adaptive cruise control. There’s also some very stylish 20-inch wheels in this package, which will run you at least $68,350.
110 First Edition
Reserved for those who want to mark the return of the Defender nameplate, the First Edition models showcase various features that define this iconic Rover. With a “more robust Terrain Response 2 system, which can automatically detect conditions and select the correct mode without driver intervention,” there isn’t an off-road track this ute can’t crack. The sliding panoramic roof opens you and your passengers up to the great outdoors. With a fridge in the center console, all-wheel drive, and SiriusXM and HD radio at your fingertips, why say no to adventure? Budget at least $68,350 for this model, same as the HSE.
Springing for the X model will top off a number of standard options that cost extra on lower trim levels. These include heated seats in the rear, to complement the heated and ventilated pair up front. It adds an heads-up display too. Drivers will certainly make the best of exterior styling cues and the premium 15-speaker sound system.
If you’re the off-road type, choose this model for “an electronic differential and a more sophisticated All Terrain Progress Control system that works like cruise control over low traction surfaces.” It’ll make the nearly $81,000 seem a bit less ostentatious and well worth the extra coin.
90 First Edition
For those who don’t need an eight-seater SUV, the 90 First Edition might be the way to go. Starting at $65,100, this model boasts the larger engine and a long list of included features. Some of the highlights include 20″ wheels, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, GPS navigation, a 10-speaker sound system, SiriusXM radio, and Terrain Response.
A plethora of driver assistance features are included too, like emergency braking, a 3D camera, and lane keep assist with blind spot warnings.
Accessory packs are also available for an extra charge on the 2020 Land Rover Defender. Customers can choose from the Explorer Pack, Adventure Pack, Country Pack, and Urban Pack. Each offers customers a unique experience in only the way Land Rover can.
Due to its relatively fresh arrival, the 2020 Land Rover Defender has not yet been rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, Land Rover does equip the new Defender with both standard and optional safety tech. Free from the factory are automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and blind spot warning. If you want adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic warning, you’ll have to shell out more dough.
As with safety ratings, the 2020 Defender is still too new to receive official fuel efficiency numbers. However, CarandDriver admits they are “not hopeful for particularly thrifty numbers.” Though turbocharging both the four- and six-cylinder engines certainly trades displacement for power, both the 90 and 110 models tip the scales near 5,000 pounds. Sure, mid-size and full-size sedans are in this weight class as well, and they make respectable numbers. However, most of them aren’t all-wheel drive and hauling all kinds of off-road gear and technology. It’s a rugged SUV, so expect to get numbers typical of that class.
As you may imagine, there are fierce competitors in the off-road segment. In the past, Toyota’s 4Runner and the Jeep Wrangler (among the rest of the Jeep tribe) have dominated the off-road 4X4 segment. Subaru throws the Outback, Ascent, and Forester into the ring to compete with the slew of pickup trucks that tear up more mud than an angry down-south alligator stuck on a hunter’s line. Suffice to say, the Defender has a lot to live up to — and go up against.
That includes Land Rover’s “reputation for dodgy reliability.” Priced in the demilitarized zone between a sub-$30,000 Wrangler and the dominating force of the six-figure German G-Wagen, the Defender holds its own. While it isn’t out of the reach of many Land Rover customers, the Defender hit high and low notes with online review teams. The boxy body styling and interior controls felt a bit clunky to many. Kelley Blue Book experts admitted it “carries the torch of its forbears but lacks distinct style.” We submit to Jalopnik’s Andrew Collins for a colorful summary: “This is a practical vehicle you can use for epic expeditions, not a barely-tamed safari rig.” Forget the Ford Explorers and Jeep Wranglers of Jurassic Park. You’ll need a Defender to get you out of the park safely.
The Last Word
The Land Rover Defender last visited U.S. shores in the late 1940s. It’s been a long while, but will the 2020 Defender be Land Rover’s saving grace? Will it prolong it’s stay with a pickup version? Maybe an electric or more commercial variants are in the pipeline? Land Rover differentiates it from the rest of the family, so perhaps a new day is yet to come.
For now, you can price, build, and order select variants of the 2020 Land Rover Defender online. Hopefully, we’ll be able to test drive these models soon, as they arrive in the United States. Stay posted by contacting your local Land Rover dealership and tuning in to Autoversed, where we bring you the latest in automotive news, reviews, and related content.