The new defender is here. I want to start out first and foremost by saying that I’m not onboard with the JLR design boss ethos and his works so Im likely to say that it’s not very attractive and frankly could be very ugly. Which i did do just now.
Im also an avid Toyota Land Cruiser..ite..which may color my opinions but I’d like to think I can separate the two.
Things I like
1. It exists. Its a new overland focused off-road wagon available in the US
2. It doesn’t come fully loaded. On account of the fact that the Discovery and Rangie exist, this doesn’t need to be those. Thats refreshing.
3. its attainable. 50 grand starting for the 110 isn’y good, but it isn’t bad, and truthfully you get a pretty well built package for around 57.
4. They clearly tried to please everyone...which is a tall ask...and they actually took customer feedback.
Things I don’t like
1. Super ugly, in 5 door or 3 door. That d-pillar treatment is stupid and the little cargo boxes look even worse.
This is some Eddie Bauer mall store level design.
The front end is a mess, and the back is a pointless homage to a door that wasn’t really well loved.
You know what would look good? Taillights where they are supposed to go instead of following a line for no reason other than its there and leaving the fenders looking like homemade fiberglass add-ons with stick on reflectors.
The interior is...shockingly...not bad.
Restrained, tasteful, usable. Too many screens for my taste but I realize that shipped has sailed. The idea of a bench up-front is silly though. You can’t put a child up there in a child seat but thats the only being that would fit given the legroom.
Seriously, thats where legs go, on that hump on the floor that is about 10 inches lower than if the console was still there. to say nothing of hip and shoulder room which is nonexistant and offset. It would be the worst place I could possibly imagine sitting. I’d rather sit on the roof. Please don’t subject humans to this seat...ever.
22 inch wheels. Did you know you can get 22 inch wheels? 22 INCH WHEELS!
2. Price. “but you just said...” I said attainable. 57 grand really is a great price compared to a Land Cruiser or Patrol but this thing is the Size of a Unlimited or 4Runner, and competes against those vehicles. You can top those vehicles out around where this one starts and given the technology (aluminum, turbo’s, high tech interior, air springs, etc) to you get a lot for your money, but it also comes with steel wheels, cloth seats, very little luxury. It’s an odd place in the market to live but Land Rover fans wont care...its a credible alternative to Toyota and Jeep.
Okay so do you care about the details? of course you do.
1. Terrain response is FINALLY configurable (if you spec it) in that you can now TELL the center to lock, or the “rear active differential” to “lock”.
“quotes” because the rear diff isn’t a locker, its an electronically controlled clutch LSD with high pressure, meaning in “lock” its effectively a locker, but still has the potential to slip given extreme use. Thats actually probably a good thing to you don’t explode CV’s as tends to happen on locked IRS/IFS vehicles.
What a joy and an overdue feature to be able to tell you 4x4 to be the kind of 4x4 you want and when.
2. Air suspension is standard. yup. thats great in the sense that because its an IRS/IFS you get tons of geometry and clearance benefits. bad because, well, Land Rover air suspension. 5.8 inches of super raised clearance and 3 inches in actually usable raised clearance is a nice thing to have and the cross-linked systems they have been using can actually provide better than average articulation. As good as solids? no chance, but better than most factory setups, solid or otherwise. So it will be better out of the box*, worse than the aftermarket.
*except worse than its 2 rivals, the 4runner and Wrangler
CRAZY good numbers.
3. Great approach/breakover/departure
30.1/22/36.7 in standard height on the 110 and 38/28/40 in the highest mode.
8.6/11/5 ground clearance
But the really great numbers?
Payload and towing
And with 4 corner air springs its going to level and ride beautifully. These numbers are legit and frankly this versatility is only available with air spring technology...so if you were thinking “well I’ll just get coils” just remember you’ll have to give something up.
Im not a solid axle luddite. I prefer them but truthfully a well designed system like this will perform well. Will it hold up as well? probably not, but its a technically “better” design.
Im planning to run this through my best overland scoring matrix to see where it lands, I suspect it will score VERY well.
Accessories and packages.
Okay...so these packages are stupid.
The only thing that is real on ANY of them is the raised air intake and the mud flaps.
“but the air compressor! And the rinse system!”
The air compressor is pansy-ass and is NOT the built in suspension compressor like the Touareg had. It’s literally a little bolt in compressor that is “installed” in the cargo area and costs nearly a grand (before installation!)
1 cfm at 40 PSI and 60 psi max. Thats about as strong as ARB’s weakest compressor used mostly just to actuate their lockers. Their base level tire compressor is more than double both those numbers and costs $290 for a complete onboard kit.
The Rinse system? It’s a jug of water, a hand pump and a spray wand. it costs $406 before installation. Buy a roadshower and get the bonus of not having to hand pump and having hot water.
In short - overpriced garbage. Don’t be suckered in by these gimmicks.
If they really wanted to do something cool they could have made the a stand-on hood option.
Quality? This is the elephant in the room.
Its evident that they are really trying to built this one tough, but we all know Land Rover. Tough hardware is no match for shitty electronics and, well, I don’t think they’ve cracked this nut yet.
I would give this a 5 out of 10 on the trust-my-life o meter. Which is about the same I give my 313,000 Land Cruiser, with the caveat that those scores get bumped up substantially because I know I can field repair it as needed with minimal tools.
That was really the key benefit on the old defender, it wasn’t that it wouldn’t break...because it would...it was that it was really easy to field maintain. This thing? HA! good luck.
Pictured - waiting for the terrain response to reboot.
All in all i have to say that I WANT to hate it. I want to mock it. Thing is...I HAVE to respect it. It’s going to be crazy capable, its got a low frills interior and steel wheels! (even though they are 18 inch...boo). It’s a high capacity, high capability, no crap touring wagon and its for sale here in the us for a price that is, if a little high, totally reasonable.
Im going to be watching this VERY closely to see if Mr. Ward is right, that utility can still sell in the 50-70 grand range. Im hoping it can.
I hope they sell a metric crap-ton of these (or is it Crappe-Tonne?) so as to Wake Toyota up and to revive the Land Rover brand.