The fact that Land Rover is ending production of the fan-favorite Defender isn’t news, and neither is the fact that a replacement is in the works.
Yet some of the details about that replacement appear to have changed.
The next Defender won’t arrive until 2018, a bit later than previous reports suggested, although it will be sold in the U.S. again, Automobile Magazine says.
Until now, it appeared Land Rover could launch the next-generation Defender as early as next year, and possibly even preview the new model with a concept at one of this year’s auto show.
Instead, the Defender will return in time for Land Rover’s 70th anniversary, with a wide variety of body styles, powertrains, and trim levels to appeal to everyone from farmers to wealthy urbanites.
The Defender will reportedly switch to a new unibody architecture called D7u for better on-road manners and a lower curb weight, but keep the current model’s live-axle suspension.
And while it will include luxuries like an infotainment system and a unique version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response control system, the Defender apparently won’t be a full-on luxury vehicle like Land Rover’s other models.
Striking the correct balance between a vehicle that’s refined enough for a wider customer base yet true to the original Defender’s spirit will be quite a challenge.
At least five body styles are reportedly part of the plan, including two-door models with both hard and convertible tops, a four-door model, and pickup truck versions of both.
Powertrains are rumored to include turbocharged gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines from Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium line, plus a 3.0-liter V6 with at least 300 horsepower. Six-speed manual and nine-speed automatic transmissions will be on offer.
All of that should make the next Defender a competent off-roader like its predecessor, even if we will have to wait a bit longer for it.