LOS ANGELES – The Land Rover Defender was last sold in the U.S. in 1998. It was banished from our shores due to failure to meet safety standards. When it left, the Defender was a rugged off-road vehicle.
With the new Defender, which had its North American launch during last week’s Los Angeles auto show, Land Rover is aiming for a wider audience.
“It has an appropriate level of refinement and comfort,” says Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover product marketing director. The Defender “will definitely now appeal to a broader and bigger SUV market.”
The new, refined Defender comes in two models. The 5-door Defender 110 in the U.S. is priced starting at $50,925 including destination and delivery, tax, title, license and retailer fees. It will go on sale in spring 2020. The 3-door Defender 90 will come to market in two tranches.
The Defender 90 First Edition, priced from $65,100, will go on sale in summer 2020. Only 500 units of the First Edition will be sold in the U.S. Among the special features on the First Edition: Pangea Green Metallic paint, First Edition badge, Ebony Grain leather seats with woven textile and a standard front-row jump seat.
The full range of Defender 90 models will be available in the U.S. in fall 2020 priced in the mid-$40,000 range.
Land Rover sold 4,073 Defenders in the U.S. from 1970 to 1975, and then 6,945 redesigned Defenders from 1992 to 1998, according to Wards Intelligence data. (See vintage Defenders below.)
Through October, the Range Rover Sport has been the brand’s most popular vehicle, with 20,468 deliveries, up 5.9% from like-2018. Overall, Land Rover has sold 74,732 vehicles through October, up 2.4%, according to Wards Intelligence data.
Both the Defender 90 and Defender 110 are produced in Nitra, Slovakia.
McFall sees three core user groups for the new SUV.
Expert users are “nature’s explorers,” he says. They are the old Defender’s core customers.
Professional users of the new Defender include NGOs, small-business owners and individuals who want to “get the job done.”
It is the third group – everyday users – that Land Rover seems to be positioning the new Defender to attract. They are “potentially the largest group,” McFall says.
The new Defender is being pitched as a lifestyle brand with four accessory packs to suit different customer tastes. There are 170 available accessories.
The Explorer pack is “ideal for the off-road adventurer,” and includes a roof rack, exterior side-mounted gear carrier, wheel arch protection, a spare wheel cover and even a Matte-black hood decal for each model.
The Adventure Pack includes a portable rinse system with a 1.7-gallon (6.5-L) pressurized water reserve, a trunk-mounted integrated air compressor, an exterior side-mounted gear carrier and a removable backpack which attaches to the middle rear seat.
The Country Pack includes front and rear mud flaps, a portable rinse system and a full-height cargo space partition.
The Urban Pack is the most spartan and includes bright tedal pedals and a spare wheel cover.
A lifestyle product wouldn’t be complete without its own clothing and accessory line, and Land Rover has partnered with Musto, a U.K.-based sportswear brand focused on sailing, equestrian and shooting apparel. The Musto Land Rover line of clothing and accessories includes coats, gloves, shirts, a backpack, a thermos and even a pen.
And, of course, there is the Lego 2019 Land Rover Defender set, available for $199.99.
“There will be a Defender for everyone,” says McFall.