Nearly unmatched off-roading capability. The Land Rover Defender became an icon because of its off-road capability, being able to go where few other SUVs dare to. With the all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender, the brand still stuck to what it knows best by endowing it with rugged, off-road features, many of which come standard. Out of the gate, the Defender has more off-road capability than 90% of other SUVs on the market.
Every Defender comes with full-time four-wheel drive, a terrain response system, and a two-speed transfer case. Electronic air suspension that can raise it by up to 3 inches, a wade sensing system, and a surround-view camera with special off-roading views are also included as standard.
For go-anywhere, do-anything capability, the range-topping Defender X adds an electronic differential, Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system, a configurable terrain response system, and All Terrain Progress Control that acts as an off-roading cruise control system.
Massively improved on-road comfort. Defender models of old weren’t exactly easy to live with, trading on-road comfort and drivability for being able to forge new paths in the wilderness. The 2020 model has been thoroughly modernized underneath its body, which results in an SUV that’s more focused on on-road comfort than ever before.
The Defender utilizes a unibody construction, a first for the Defender name, a double-wishbone suspension at the front, and a rear independent integral link suspension at the back. Together, these updates result in a vehicle that won’t beat you up on the road.
Land Rover also did a lot to ensure the cabin’s much more comfortable than before, and there’s even room for up to seven or six thanks to an available jump seat in the first row.
The Defender comes well-equipped on the inside, too, with two-zone climate control, a 10-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, wireless smartphone charging, and eight-way semi-powered front seats. The upright seating position, narrow shoulder room, and tight third row means the Defender isn’t all that good at hauling people around, though.
Easily recognizable. You could spot an old Defender from a mile away because of its boxy design, and that’s still the case with the all-new 2020 model. Short front and rear overhangs, a boxy blueprint, a tailgate-mounted spare tire, and rugged fenders help the new Defender maintain a similar design to the old one, but with an updated resemblance. Being available in both two-door (Defender 90) and four-door (Defender 110) configurations also help the Defender’s old-school appeal.
Land Rover offers four accessory packs for the Defender that alter the way it looks. For those looking to stand out on the road, there’s the Urban Pack that brings shiny trim pieces, while the Country Pack adds mudflaps, a portable rinse system, and wheel arch protectors to keep stop the body from getting dinged around the farm.
The Explorer and Adventure Packs are more extensive kits that are aimed at off-roaders. The former brings a roof rack, a side-mounted gear carrier, a raised air intake, and mudflaps. The Adventure Pack features an integrated air compressor, a side-mounted carrier, mudflaps, a cover for the spare wheel, and more. If you ask us, the Adventure Pack is the best fit for the Defender.
Capable available six-cylinder engine. Land Rover offers two modern engines with the Defender. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 296 horsepower. With the four-door Defender 110 tipping the scales at roughly 2.5 tons, the four-cylinder doesn’t seem like a great fit. Land Rover claims the Defender 110 with the engine will get to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, but other vehicles that weigh around the same figure come with V8s.
There’s an available turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine with a mild-hybrid system that puts out a more respectable 395 hp. The more powerful engine can get it to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The engine is a costly upgrade – $12,350 for the Defender 110 – but a much better fit for the SUV. Regardless of engine choice, the Defender can tow a hefty 8,200 pounds.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Land Rover Defender marks the return of the iconic nameplate for consumers in the U.S. The number of off-road-oriented SUVs on the market has shrunk, but the new Defender keeps the segment alive. Incredible off-roading capability, rugged looks, modern engines, and loads of high-tech features mean Land Rover brought the Defender back with all of its old-school charm, but for a contemporary audience.
We’re still pinching ourselves to see the new Defender on sale in the U.S., so it's hard to spot the flaws. It isn’t exactly comfortable for more than five people, but neither are a lot of other options in the segment. Options can get pricey quickly and nearly all of the cool things one would want are optional. For the Defender 110, prices start at $50,925 and can go up past $100,000 for a well-equipped Defender 110 X.
If you’re interested in getting an SUV with similar off-road capability, there aren’t a whole bunch of new options on the road. The Jeep Wrangler continues to be the king of the class with unquestionable off-road ability, two- and four-door body styles, and a diesel engine. It’s not nearly as luxurious or as tech-forward as the Defender, though.
The Toyota 4Runner is the off-roader for people that still want something that’s spacious enough for a family. It’s not as capable off-road as the Defender, or the Wrangler for that fact, but it’s a better value option and comes with a powerful V6 engine as standard.
Check prices for the 2020 Land Rover Defender »