2020 Land Rover Defender 110

Land Rover took the wraps off its all-new Defender SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. This new version of Land Rover’s go-anywhere SUV has modern styling, a choice of four- or six-cylinder engine, two body styles, a number of seating configurations, and a comprehensive list of off-road-ready features. Unlike the original Defender, which was more trucklike, the new one has a unibody construction, like many of today’s SUVs. 

The new four-door Defender 110 goes on sale in spring 2020, starting at $49,900; the shorter, two-door Defender 90 hatchback will be available later that year.

Here’s what we know so far.

Land Rover Defender 90

What it competes with: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land 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: Defender 110 in spring 2020; Defender 90, later in 2020

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. The Defender 90 is a two-door SUV with a hatchback, 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.

The Defender line has historically been used in some of the most challenging and remote terrain in the world, and Land Rover says the SUV will have a few systems that help with off-roading. 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 that’s 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 First Edition versions (the ones that are initially available) of the 90 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: It 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 the 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 P300 versions use a 296-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with a claimed 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.7 seconds. The P400 versions have a 395-hp V6 engine and a 48-volt electrical system, which helps with the stop/start system and, in some cases, acceleration.

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

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.

CR's Take

In some ways the Defender doesn’t have any competition, 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. Still, the new Land Rover’s unique two-door version will make it stand out from its luxury-level competitors.

We look forward to testing this all-new model once it goes on sale.

Land Rover Defender 110