The 2020 Land Rover Defender is a 21st century take on a 4×4 icon

This is the 2020 Land Rover Defender, which goes on sale next spring starting at $49,900. [credit:
Jonathan Gitlin ]

FRANKFURT, GERMANY—The original Land Rover didn’t invent the 4×4—that honor surely belongs to the WWII Jeep—but it is almost synonymous with the term. Inspired by the Jeep, the first Land Rovers went on sale in 1948, being (very) slowly updated over the years through Series I-III, then as the Land Rover 90 and 110, then as the Defender, which finally went out of production in January 2016. Along the way, despite its agricultural roots and barest nod toward things like driver comfort or ergonomics, the Defender gained a reputation for being able to go just about anywhere, which helps explain why used examples are now so ludicrously expensive here in the US. Land Rover is obviously not unaware of this fact, because it has gone and designed a brand new Defender, which made its public debut at this year’s Frankfurt auto show.
If you were expecting a traditional body-on-frame design, think again. This Defender, like its Range Rover cousins, is now an aluminum monocoque chassis, something that Land Rover says is three times stiffer than anything else the brand has built until now. Like the old, antediluvian 4×4 it replaces, the new one comes in two sizes: the 90 and 110, numbers which used to refer to the number of inches in the wheelbase. (In fact the 90 has a 102-inch/2,588mm wheelbase, and the 110 has 119-inch/3,026mm wheelbase.) If you want a 90, you’re limited to a single engine—a mild hybrid 395hp (295kW) turbocharged 3.0L inline six—but the bigger Defender can also be optioned with a 296hp (220kW) 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Both engines are gasoline-powered; there’s no diesel planned, but next year a plug-in hybrid will join the range.
The drivetrain options will also be a little unfamiliar to fans of the venerable and ancient Landy. Forget about a simple manual gearbox; all new Defenders will use ZF’s excellent 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. But it does have permanent four-wheel drive, a twin-speed transfer case, and can be specced with locking center and rear differentials as well as Land Rover’s latest Terrain Response electronic off-road driver aid.
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Source: Car news one

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