Land Rover Defender Will Return to North America in New Iteration

land rover defender will return to north america in new iteration

Details have come to light regarding the return of Land Rover’s long-running Defender model to the North American market. This time around, things will be a little different. After a solid 67-year run (dating back to 1948 as the “Series” models), perhaps some changes were due.

And this time, North America gets to see the new Defender at the same time as the rest of the world.

Keen Anglophiles will recall the prior Defender was sold on North American shores between 1993 and 1997. Defender 90 and 110 models were available in various levels of trim, with both hard and soft tops in the case of the 90 model. However, changing regulations shut the import doors on the Defender after 1997. For 1998, federal regulations required dual front airbags in all vehicles, and new side-impact safety.

This “safety” idea had never been the Defender’s forte, so making updates was neither simple nor cost effective. Left with little choice, Land Rover was forced to discontinue the model in North America. This left the company with just two offerings at the time — the Discovery I and upmarket Range Rover. Rather limited supply has led to ridiculous pricing on stateside used Defenders in the years since.

A long time coming, Automotive News is now reporting details sourced from Land Rover about a brand-new Defender (UK production of the old model, seen above, ceased in January 2016). The new Defender should debut in 2019, and is intended for all global markets. Multiple body styles will be available, and the company assures us the new Defender will look plenty Defender-y, without falling into the retro design trap.

A two-door soft top and four-door hardtop wagon have been confirmed, along with gasoline and diesel power plants. The new Defender will make use of the new Ingenium engine family, the newest engine offerings from Jaguar Land Rover.

Unlike the old Defender’s aluminum panels stamped over a steel frame, the new model will be a modern aluminum unibody, much like the current Range Rover. While many will surely bemoan the Defender’s loss of a traditional frame, it’s quite necessary for crash ratings, emissions standards, comfort, practicality, platform sharing, and probably 210 other reasons.

And with the rest of this change comes a change of venue. The likely production locale for the new model will take place in Slovakia, which is certainly not anywhere near Solihull in Merry England.

[Image: Shelka04/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 17, 2017

    This just in: the new LR Defender will share a platform with the Ford Fiesta, but the square looks it will be given make it build Ford, er, Land Rover tough.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Aug 19, 2017

    Never cared for the aesthetics of the Range Rover or Discovery, but an updated, modern take of the Defender, otoh...

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
  • Car65688392 thankyou for the information
  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.