New Model News

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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Lexus has one of the best reputations as a brand, according to new research.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Reputation.com has ranked North America's automotive brands. Each brand was scored, with the industry average coming in at 594, the highest of any industry Reputation.com measures. However, it's not all sunshine and roses.

The industry's average dropped from February 2020's score of 603. Reputation.com says that the lower average is driven by a decrease in review volume due to Google suspending reviews for weeks in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the health crisis, Reputation.com found that a dealership's valet service is the top new driver of positive sentiment while dealership hygiene is the key driver of negative sentiment. Overall, price-related complains constitute the second-highest factor driving negative sentiment, behind service.

Nissan retained its ranking as the top dog with its Reputation Score nearly the same today as it was in February. Mitsubishi had the highest increase over the February rankings (up 54 points) while Cadillac's score dropped the most (down 45 points).

Tesla had a hard go of it. While consumers tend to like their Tesla cars, the company has the lowest rate for responding to negative reviews and lowest engagement scores, as well as worst for pricing and speed of service.

Here's a look at the brand rankings, from worst to first.

No. 32 - Genesis

2020 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Reputation Score: 366
Sentiment Score: 65%
Visibility Score: 24%
Engagement Score: 61%

No. 31 - Cadillac

2020 Cadillac CT6 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Reputation Score: 504
Sentiment Score: 74%
Visibility Score: 36%
Engagement Score: 80%

No. 30 - Tesla

Tesla Model S

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Reputation Score: 520
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 40%
Engagement Score: 4%

No. 29 - Jaguar

2019 Jaguar I-PACE

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

Reputation Score: 542
Sentiment Score: 74%
Visibility Score: 43%
Engagement Score: 57%

No. 28 - Mazda

2020 Mazda CX-5 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Reputation Score: 549
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 51%
Engagement Score: 64%

No. 27 - Volvo

2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Reputation Score: 560
Sentiment Score: 74%
Visibility Score: 43%
Engagement Score: 57%

No. 26 - Fiat

2020 Fiat 500L Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Reputation Score: 578
Sentiment Score: 66%
Visibility Score: 57%
Engagement Score: 65%

No. 25 - Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Defender Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Reputation Score: 588
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 49%
Engagement Score: 71%

No. 24 - Mitsubishi

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors America

Reputation Score: 593
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 52%
Engagement Score: 61%

No. 23 - Volkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Taos

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Reputation Score: 596
Sentiment Score: 69%
Visibility Score: 54%
Engagement Score: 66%

No. 22 (tie) - Ram

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Reputation Score: 601
Sentiment Score: 70%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 63%

No. 22 (tie) - Chrysler

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Reputation Score: 601
Sentiment Score: 70%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 63%

No. 20 - Jeep

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Reputation Score: 602
Sentiment Score: 70%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 63%

No. 19 - Honda

2021 Honda Ridgeline

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Reputation Score: 603
Sentiment Score: 71%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 63%

No. 18 - Kia

2021 Kia K5 Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Reputation Score: 604
Sentiment Score: 69%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 63%

No. 17 - Porsche

2021 Porsche 911 Targa Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Reputation Score: 612
Sentiment Score: 78%
Visibility Score: 48%
Engagement Score: 70%

No. 16 - GMC

2020 GMC Terrain Photo courtesy of GMC

Reputation Score: 614
Sentiment Score: 74%
Visibility Score: 52%
Engagement Score: 68%

No. 15 - Dodge

2020 Dodge Challenger

Photo courtesy of Dodge

Reputation Score: 615
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 64%

No. 14 - Chevrolet

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet​

Reputation Score: 616
Sentiment Score: 73%
Visibility Score: 53%
Engagement Score: 69%

No. 13 - Infiniti

2021 Infiniti Q50 Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Reputation Score: 617
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 54%
Engagement Score: 70%

No. 12 - Audi

Audi E-Tron Sportback Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Reputation Score: 625
Sentiment Score: 73%
Visibility Score: 56%
Engagement Score: 71%

No. 11 - Hyundai

2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Reputation Score: 626
Sentiment Score: 73%
Visibility Score: 59%
Engagement Score: 66%

No. 10 - MINI

2020 MIIN Cooper Photo courtesy of MINI

Reputation Score: 630
Sentiment Score: 79%
Visibility Score: 50%
Engagement Score: 68%

No. 9 - Ford

2021 Ford Ranger Lariat Tremor Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Reputation Score: 631
Sentiment Score: 73%
Visibility Score: 59%
Engagement Score: 68%

No. 8 - Mercedes-Benz

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Reputation Score: 633
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 59%
Engagement Score: 69%

No. 7 - Toyota

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Reputation Score: 633
Sentiment Score: 71%
Visibility Score: 62%
Engagement Score: 74%

No. 6 - BMW

2021 BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe Photo courtesy of BMW

Reputation Score: 654
Sentiment Score: 75%
Visibility Score: 61%
Engagement Score: 73%

No. 5 - Lincoln

Lincoln Aviator Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Co.

Reputation Score: 658
Sentiment Score: 73%
Visibility Score: 63%
Engagement Score: 71%

No. 4 - Acura

2021 Acura TLX

Photo courtesy of Acura

Reputation Score: 666
Sentiment Score: 78%
Visibility Score: 57%
Engagement Score: 71%

No. 3 - Subaru

2020 Subaru Crosstrek Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Reputation Score: 669
Sentiment Score: 75%
Visibility Score: 65%
Engagement Score: 78%

No. 2 - Lexus

2021 Lexus RX Black Line Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Reputation Score: 673
Sentiment Score: 77%
Visibility Score: 63%
Engagement Score: 77%

No. 1 - Nissan

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Reputation Score: 681
Sentiment Score: 72%
Visibility Score: 71%
Engagement Score: 79%

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