2020 Land Rover Defender 110

The all-new Land Rover Defender made its North American debut at this year’s LA Auto Show. It marks the return of Land Rover’s classic nameplate to the U.S. market after a more than 20-year hiatus.

This new version of Land Rover’s go-anywhere SUV has modern styling, a choice of four- or six-cylinder engine, two- and four-door body types, a number of seating configurations, and a comprehensive list of off-road-ready features. Unlike the original Defender, the new one has a unibody design, like many of today’s SUVs, rather than trucklike body-on-frame construction.

Land Rover will be launching the four-door Defender 110 in spring 2020, with the two-door Defender 90 First Edition arriving in the summer, starting at $65,100. The lower-priced Defender 90 will go on sale in the fall of 2020. Consumer Reports’ Cars team will be looking closely at the new Defender, as well as dozens of other models, this week.

Land Rover Defender 90

What it competes with: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep WranglerLand Rover Discovery, Lexus GX, Toyota Land Cruiser 
What it looks like: A sleeker, slightly curvier interpretation of the classic Defender
Powertrains: 296-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission; 395-hp, 3.0-liter hybrid six-cylinder engine; all-wheel drive
Price: $49,900 to $80,900
On-sale date: Spring 2020

CR's Take

The Defender doesn’t have a direct rival, particularly when its off-road capabilities are taken into consideration. However, most buyers won’t be crossing the Sahara desert or need the ability to ford a river on a regular basis. When taken as a luxury SUV, the Defender’s competition is broader and that may be a challenge. Still, the new Land Rover’s unique two-door version will make it stand out from its luxury-level competitors.

Outside

Land Rover’s Defender has always been a blocky, squared-off vehicle, and the new model’s styling stays close—though not completely true—to that heritage. The Defender 90 is a two-door SUV, while the 110 is a more traditional four-door SUV.

Both are on the narrow side—to help the vehicle to navigate tight spaces when off-roading—which gives them a tall profile. This includes a small window on each side of the roof at the back, a styling cue that has long been part of the Defender line. There are 12 wheel designs available, in sizes ranging from 18 to 22 inches in diameter.

Defenders have historically been used in some of the most challenging and remote terrain in the world, and Land Rover says the new SUV will have some clever, modern technology that helps with off-roading. For instance, the Wade Sensing system tells drivers how deep the water is under the Defender when they ford a stream. The SUV can get through water up to 35.4 inches deep. And the Remote Control Electric Winch can be operated wirelessly from up to 147 feet away, should owners need help pulling their Defender out of a tricky situation.

Land Rover Defender interior

Inside

Most versions of the Defender 90 seat five passengers: two in the front and three in the rear. But Defender 90 First Edition versions come with a standard front jump seat that adds a third seating position up front. The seatback of this occasional-use seat can be folded down to provide an armrest, two cup holders, and additional storage.

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The Defender 110 also can be equipped with the jump seat as an option and has three seating configurations that can accommodate five, six, or seven passengers. The six-passenger setup uses the jump seat. The seven-passenger configuration is called 5+2 because it has a small third-row seat that’s really meant for children to use.

Both SUVs have a maximum towing capacity of 8,201 pounds, and the maximum weight of cargo on the roof is 370 pounds. Also available is Advanced Tow Assist, which allows the driver to use a knob on the center console to steer the trailer when backing up.

Land Rover says the Defender 110 has 34 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row, which can be expanded to 78 cubic feet when the seat is folded down.

The Defender is the first Land Rover to get the automaker’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system, accessed through a 10-inch touch screen. The automaker says the system has an “always-on design that provides instant responses” even when the Defender is starting up. Consumer Reports has noted in our tests of Land Rovers that the current infotainment systems are slow to start up. Compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard.

In addition, the automaker’s new Electrical Vehicle Architecture (EVA 2.0) for the vehicle can update a variety of systems, including infotainment functions, through over-the-air software releases.

Land Rover Defender off-road screen

What Drives It

Land Rover offers two powertrains in the new Defender. The base engine in the 110 will use a 296-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with a claimed 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 7.7 seconds. The Defender 90 First Edition and the SE, HSE, X, and First Edition versions of the 110 have a 395-hp V6 engine and a 48-volt electrical system, which helps with the stop/start system and acceleration.

Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and have low-range gearing, which is needed for serious towing and off-road driving. The automaker hasn’t released any fuel-economy figures.

Safety & Driver Assist Systems

The EVA 2.0 system works with the forward-facing camera and ultrasonic sensors to underpin the various advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). Automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and lane keeping assist are standard. Adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic warning are part of an option package.

Land Rover Defender 110