The Defender itself began production in the ’80s but only sold for four years in the U.S. Land Rover die-hards in the States have been clamoring for the return of the Defender, and it looks like the company is finally ready to indulge them.
Everything Old Is New Again
We don’t know much about the new Defender. Land Rover says it will come with a full suite of driver aids and connectivity features. But, more importantly, the Defender is switching from a solid rear axle to independent rear suspension. That might come as a blow to retro enthusiasts and off-road purists. However, for everyone else willing to plunk down their money, it should be a welcome change, putting the vehicle’s on-road manners more in line with what modern Land Rover and Range Rover consumers expect.
This change is probably part of the reason the announcement proudly states that this new Defender will be the “most off-road capable Land Rover ever.” We can assume it will come with all the hardware and software trickery that makes other Land Rover and Range Rover models so much more off-road capable than competitors. Beyond that, Land Rover says the new Defender will capable of tackling conditions from -40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and altitudes up to 13,000 feet above sea level, which all sounds very unpleasant. Fortunately, it should be just as at home pulling up outside a restaurant when it’s sunny and 76.
Perhaps more controversial than the mechanical changes will be whatever’s hiding under the prototype’s camouflage. The Defender’s design didn’t really change over its lifespan, and that’s how a lot of people liked it. Land Rover is promising an all-new design both inside and out. While it still looks plenty boxy, if the new Defender shows up without big round headlights flanking a perfectly rectangular grille, there’s going to be some mighty griping from the internet. We’ll all be waiting with bated breath until the wrapping comes off this particular present sometime later in 2019.