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2020 Land Rover Defender holds true to original's spirit while infusing modern technology, equipment

The Land Rover Defender returns to the automaker's lineup for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover has made no secret of the fact that they're on a journey of transformation. Since its break with Ford Motor Company, the British automaker has been trying to find itself, break through to a larger audience, and expand its lineup. Add in a heaping helping of modern technology and equipment and you get a sense of why now is the right time to bring back the Defender.

The production of the model that is now known as the Defender started in the 1980s under the name Land Rover 110. It was squared off, rugged, and purpose-built with no superficial exterior flourishes. As the model moved into production, it received coil springs, a permanent four-wheel drive system, fresh interior, one-piece windshield, and new engine lineup. In 1983, the Defender was officially born.

Land Rover Defender Chepstow Racecourse Horse shoes and motifs adorn a vintage Land Rover Defender during the 2016 Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow Racecourse. Photo by Getty Images

Land Rover stopped selling the Defender in the U.S. in 1997 due to safety regulations.

The return of the Land Rover Defender had long been rumored. By 2010, the automaker had confirmed a new model was in the works. The redesigned 2020 Land Rover Defender debuted on September 10, 2019 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The look of the Defender is true to the original while taking into account modern safety regulations and aerodynamic qualities, and adding in the latest off-roading equipment, and fresh infotainment technology. The vehicle's frame is made of aluminum while steel and magnesium play an important roll in other parts of the SUV.

Land Rover Defender 2020 design stage The Land Rover Defender design process was about serving the customer's needs and meeting their expectations.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2020 Defender comes in short and regular wheelbase models (named 90 and 110, respectively).

There's an Urban package for those who want the chic look of a Defender but required black wheels and exterior accents (hello, Americans) as well as Explorer, Adventure, and Country packs that add elements consistent with rugged travel.

"We don't create commodities," said Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover, at an unveiling event in Los Angeles last month. "We create vehicles that people have an emotional connection with."

2020 Land Rover Defender off-roading trail The Land Rover Defender is a capable beast on- and off-road.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Part of creating that emotional connection is playing on the heritage of the model. McGovern noted that the 2020 Defender acknowledges the heritage of the Defender nameplate and moves it forward.

In addition to the sleek exterior, there are unmistakable design cues that showcase the vehicle as being ready for the future. Land Rover used a simple formula in the model's creation: visceral + behavioral + reflective = emotional design.

Land Rover Defender lifestyle camping Land Rover wanted to make the Defender the best it could be for its customers, without making them compromise.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Its presence is both commanding and robust, while still being stealthy thanks to the design of the fenders and integrated door handles. It has high sills and low overhangs.

Land Rover designers set out to create a vehicle that, like the original Defender, was fit for purpose, while at the same time having the potential to become an icon. Every generational redesign starts with a design brief. It was a, "clean, short brief," said Mark Wilson, vehicle engineering manager, Land Rover. "Just make it the best."

To get there, Land Rover focused on the buyer. The automaker sees its Defender customer as someone who fancies exploring nature, seeks utility and capability, and wants Defender to be a part of their life from mundane daily driving to heavy-duty off-roading, and everything in between.

2020 Land Rover Defender map infotainment screen The interior of the Defender features modern technology that buyers are seeking.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

To get to icon status, the 2020 Defender was, "optimized to obtain supreme off-roading capability," said McGovern. The SUV's off-roading capability was put to the test throughout the design stage in terrain like what is seen in most modern Land Rover commercials. A Red Cross emergency response team even helped out with the SUV's development.

This January, Land Rover enthusiasts will be able to put the model to the test for the first time on U.S. soil at the 4xFAR Festival. If you don't want to wait until then to get your hands on one, there's a way to get the new Defender (or at least a version of it) under your tree at Christmas.

2020 Land Rover Defender Hell's Gate Moab Utah Land Rover tested the Defender in some of the world's toughest terrain.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2020 Land Rover Defender starts at $49,900 and customers can place their order today with deliveries starting in 2020.

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New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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The new Grand Cherokee L is on its way to dealers now.

Stellantis

The all-new three-row Grand Cherokee L was unveiled earlier this year, and features an ultra-premium interior, a load of new tech, and sharp styling that shouts back to Jeep models of the past. Just a few weeks ago, we learned pricing and feature details for the new model, and now Jeep says the vehicle is on its way to dealerships across the country.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L is the first three-row Grand Cherokee.Stellantis


In terms of styling, the L's shape has been reworked from previous Grand Cherokee models to be more reminiscent of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The automaker says that the grille has been tilted forward and is now wider for better air flow and a more dramatic appearance. The idea was to make the Grand Cherokee L look rugged, but keep it sleek and technical in the process.

The stretched Grand Cherokee retains the engines that powered its predecessors. That means a 3.6-liter V6 is standard, which delivers 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter V6 is optional, and makes 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or al-wheel drive. Either powertrain option will provide decent towing capability, but the V8 is unsurprisingly more powerful. With a V6 on board, the Grand Cherokee L can tow 6,200 pounds, while V8-powered models can pull 7,200 pounds.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L's styling is modern but nostalgic.Stellantis


Inside, Jeep says the L can be equipped with the latest tech and entertainment features. Running the latest Uconnect infotainment software, the Grand Cherokee L will be capable of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and can be had with a head-up display, a rear-seat monitoring camera system, and a 950-watt 19-speaker McIntosh audio system. At the top end of the lineup, the Summit Reserve model gets Palermo quilted leather, open-pore waxed walnut wood, and 21-inch wheels.

Pricing for the L starts at $38,690 after destination, which buys the base Laredo trim. The range-topping Summit Reserve model starts at $61,690 after destination. Dealer deliveries are underway now, supported by almost 5,000 employees at Stellantis' Detroit Assembly Complex.

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