This week I am taking a look at the new 2020 Land Rover Defender, an iconic SUV that we have not seen in the United States since 1997 and has been much anticipated in the past few years.
The old Defender was known not for luxury like the Land Rovers we know today. Instead Defender was a serious off-roader with a flair for minimalism. The new 2020 shares some of that theme, but wrapped in a more modern exterior that looks terrific.
Outside the Defender is square and boxy like the original, but with beautiful 19” black gloss wheels, circle headlights, and large vertical taillights with two small square lights-on each side that work in conjunction with the regular rear lights. This is a throwback to the original Defender. The tall roof has safari windows at the top and on the side, there are matching color plates on the side windows. If you choose some of the optional side accessory packs, they go there. These plates are hard to describe but they look pretty neat.
There are many ways to configure a new Defender. My tester is the 110 SE, but for 2021, there is a 90 available, which is a 2-door version that starts at around $46,000.
This Defender 110 has the optional 3-liter 6-cylinder turbocharged engine that is putting out a strong 395-horses. It has an 8-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine is a 4-cylinder turbo that puts out 300-horses. As always, Rovers only come with all-wheel drive, and they have one of the best systems on the road.
Moving to the interior, it is very cleanly laid out, not the luxury interior I’ve come to know as a long-time Range Rover owner myself. The screws that hold the door panels and the center console are exposed and I have to say, it is cool.
Just about everything you touch is rubber, and again this works for me. It looks nice, is soft to the touch, and it will be easy to clean. Center dash is a 10” screen that operates the sound system, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the off-road capabilities. I am proud to report that the screen is much faster than I’ve experienced from Rover in recent years and is relatively simple to operate.
The gear shift handle is to the left of the screen and under the screen are all the air conditioning controls, the heated seats, height control, and off-road settings. There are a couple of cup holders, a wireless charger, and a couple of USBs and power ports.
The gauge cluster is also simplistic and not overly colorful, but it is configurable from the steering wheel and it is easy to read.
The backseat leg and head room is spacious, and cargo area is also good once you open the rear tailgate to the side. It opens from the left side as you face the rear, which hits me as odd since that is the traffic side if you are loading things, but I digress. A full-sized spare and matching wheel mount on the tailgate, but that doesn’t cause any problems. You can get the Defender with an optional 3rd row seat, but trust me, it would never hold adults. You can also get a front bench seat to hold 3 people, something hard to find these days.
Backseat passengers can control their own temperature and have a slew of power ports and USB ports, along with rear air vents. If you look up, the safari windows give an open and airy feeling, and if you happen to go on safari, you can look up to see the tall animals. There is a blind spot monitor on the rear doors, so if you go to open either one and a car or cyclist is coming, it will warn you. Brilliant!
My tester came well equipped with partial leather seating, power adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, panoramic moon roof, 14-way power seats on both side, keyless entry system, navigation system, and a lot more.
One neat feature is the Clearlight rearview mirror, and it is needed in this SUV. With the regular mirror, all you see when you look at it are headrests and that spare tire that is mounted on the back door. The Clearlight mirror camera is mounted on the antenna on the roof and when activated, you get a crystal-clear view of the road behind you that is wide angle.
On the safety front, you get emergency braking, 360-degree surround view camera, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and rear cross traffic alert.
Ride and Drive
The Defender drives fantastic, and it feels substantial and heavy, which it is. It weighs in at just over 5,000 pounds. There is no turbo lag, and the 3-liter V6 has very good acceleration. The ride quality is great thanks to the terrific air suspension system that Rover is known for.
Fuel economy is rated at 17 in town, 22 on the highway, and overall 19. MSRP as this one is equipped is $72,780 and for what you get and how capable it is, I find that price to be fair.
The new Defender is selling very well, but there is some inventory out there according to my friends at Autobahn Land Rover in Fort Worth.
2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE
- What I liked most: The way it drives, the power, and the throwback interior.
- What I would change: The rear door should open the other way.
- MSRP: Base price $62,250, as equipped $72,780.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 17 in town/12 highway/17 overall.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2500 miles.
- Weight: 5,035 curb weight pounds. 6,975 GVWR.
- Official Color: Gondwana Stone.
- Spare Tire: Matching tire and wheel on the tailgate.
- Length-Width-Height: 197.6” long/82.9” wide/77.4” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 23.8 gallons with the filler on the passenger side.
- Towing Capacity: 8,200 pounds.
- 2020 Defender in a few words: Overall an outstanding and incredibly capable SUV that is a joy to drive.
- Final Assembly Location: Nitra, Slovakia.
- Manufacturers website: www.LandRoverUSA.com
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance.
Credit: Land Rover