Land Rover Defender Will Return to North America in New Iteration

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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...

  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.