2020 Land Rover Defender: Everything We Know

The first all-new Defender in a long time has a huge challenge: modernize, but keep the old-school charm. Here's what we know about the long-anticipated 4x4.

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Nick Dimbleby

Land Rover has announced that the Defender will debut in 2019 and hit dealers in 2020. It'll be the first Defender sold in the US since 1997. Here's everything we know about it so far.

This story was originally published on October 12, 2018 and will be continually updated with new info as it becomes available.

This is its Grille

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Land Rover

Land Rover announced the new Defender will make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 10th, 2019. Along with the announcement, the company included a teaser picture of the truck showing the front grille (above), complete with "Defender" badging on the hood, an offset Land Rover emblem, and lots of mud.

This is Likely What It Will Look Like

User Steven Firth on Instagram recently published this picture of what seems to be the new Defender on the set of the latest James Bond film No Time to Die. Obviously, this isn't an official photo, but given the leaked photos and spy shots of camouflaged defenders we've seen so far, it's likely this is the real thing.

It Will Have Available Air Suspension

The Defender will come standard with a fixed coil suspension, with air suspension being optional. "The air system actively monitors temperature in the dampers and protects the vehicle by changing the parameters of the suspension as you’re driving," Land Rover representative Andy Deeks told Top Gear. "But the coil car is still the most capable car in its class."

There Will Be a Hybrid Version

As noted by Motor Authority, the Defender will get a plug-in hybrid variant with components developed by Tata Technologies. According to research on LinkedIn, a Lear plant in Morocco is currently tooling up to build the high-voltage wiring for the Defender.

Top Gear recently got a chance to take a ride in a Defender test mule, learning more about the hybrid model. The plug-in model uses a 2.0-liter gas engine and "can run on electric alone," a Land Rover engineer told Top Gear. "We don’t have any EV range information at the moment, but it’s same basic system as the Range Rover PHEV."

It Could Come in Three Wheelbases

A report from Autocar India holds that the Defender could be available in three wheelbase lengths, retaining the 90, 110, and 130 model names used in the past. On past models, those numbers roughly corresponded to (rounded) wheelbase: The old Land Rover 90 actually had a wheelbase of 93 inches. This time around, it seems they'll simply represent trim levels, with no relation to the truck's actual length. According to the report, the Defender 90 will have a wheelbase of 101.9 inches, with an overall length of 170.2 inches. The 110 will have a wheelbase of 119 inches and an overall length of 187.3 inches, and the 130 will share the 110's wheelbase, but add more than a foot of extra length to the body, with an overall length of 200.8 inches.

It Will Be Built Alongside the Discovery in Slovakia

On April 30th,2019, Land Rover celebrated the 71st anniversary of the Series 1's debut at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. The brand also confirmed that the 2020 Defender will be built in Nitra, Slovakia, alongside the Discovery it shares its platform with. And Land Rover has logged more than 750,000 miles of testing with Defender prototypes, giving us a few more details ahead of the long-awaited off-roader's debut later this year:



It Might Have Central Tire Inflation

A new patent application from Jaguar Land Rover shows a central tire inflation system that could be destined for the new Defender. The patent application shows a very detailed system that interacts with various modules in the vehicle and adjusts tire pressures based on drive mode. The usual functions of a central tire inflation system are displayed, but JLR takes it a step further by integrating features such as a “Puncture Assist Mode.”

Patent Filing

The system appears to offer tire inflation for various environments and circumstances. The base tire pressure is set to 29 PSI and is adjusted based on the option selected. The example for the standard on road mode is set to 33 PSI in the front, 36 PSI in the rear. These pressures are very similar to what is listed on the placard for the current Land Rover Discovery, which uses the same platform that will underpin the Defender.

Patent Filing

Going further into the various modes, we see that there is also a “High Load Mode” which pumps the tires up to 40 PSI or more, presumably to handle extra weight. As expected, there are various examples of off-road modes which take the pressures down to a range between 20 and 26 PSI depending on mode. There is also a “Recovery Mode” which takes the pressures all the way down to 17 PSI, useful for maximizing the contact patch in extremely loose sand or gravel.

The integration of the system would allow it to work with ABS and stability control, allowing those systems to tailor their intervention to altered tire pressures and different driving scenarios. In one example, the application states that the stability control module could communicate with the tire inflation module in order to prevent a situation where the vehicle would experience excessive oversteer or understeer.

The Codename

Multiple profiles show that the vehicle has been assigned project code L663 and project name "Darwin," and that the upcoming Defender rides on the D7U platform. This platform is aluminum intensive and is currently used in the Range Rover Sport and Discovery.

Multiple project descriptions show the L663 Defender listed alongside the L462 Discovery, so it is very likely that the Defender and Discovery will share some amount of components and technology. Since it will use the Discovery platform, it's not surprising to find out that the new Defender will be produced at the recently-opened Jaguar Land Rover factory in Nitra, Slovakia. The Land Rover Discovery started production there not long ago, and LinkedIn professional profiles of on-site employees show that they are setting up tooling for the Defender in the same location. Other profiles show that training for project “Darwin” started in Nitra earlier this year.

It Might Even Have an Optional Rooftop Camper

Perhaps the oddest description found for the upcoming Defender comes from a German roof supplier which lists the development of a panoramaaufstelldach for the vehicle. The direct translation of that word is camper roof. That means it is possible that the Defender will be available with a lift out roof similar to what is found on some European spec vans.

New Instruments, and Maybe Gesture Recognition?

Inside, the Defender is slated to feature a brand new instrument panel, the first one built in-house by Jaguar Land Rover. This instrument panel is being co-developed with a unit intended for the next-generation Jaguar XJ. Alongside this new panel, the Defender will employ a gesture recognition camera that is being developed by Aptiv and will likely offer features similar to the latest iDrive system in the BMW 7-Series.

The Defender gets more new exterior cameras as well. Up front, the car is listed to receive the new Bosch Generation 3 front facing camera, which will interface with a next-generation advanced driver assistance system that is listed as being the first “service based control system” from JLR.

When asked about these details, a representative from Land Rover provided the following statement:

Much as I'd love to unlock the keys to the kingdom, as you probably already assumed, we aren't able to comment on much of the specifics of the program for the next generation Defender.
I can confirm that the program is progressing well and, as you may have seen, has reached an exciting stage of its development with the first camouflaged prototypes hitting the streets recently. More news will be subject to a future announcement.

More details are likely to pop up as the vehicle gets closer to introduction, but the currently available information shows it to be a very technologically advanced vehicle that will also offer some classic overlanding features. It should give the Mercedes G-Class a run for its money.