Land Rover’s signature four-wheel-drive off-roading vehicle is back more than two decades after it left America.
The British brand is reviving the Land Rover Defender with plans to sell the vehicle in the U.S. beginning in 2020.
Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by Indian automaker Tata Motors, revealed the all-new Defender at the Frankfurt Motor Show Tuesday in Germany.
The splashy reveal conjures images of the adventurous, boxy 4×4 Defender – originally known as the Series I – that was sold by Land Rover for about seven decades before it was briefly discontinued globally in 2016. The vehicle hasn’t been sold in the U.S. since 1997.
Fans have been “clamoring” for the vehicle’s return even though it was only sold in America for four years, according to car-buying advice site Edmunds.
“The Defender — as it existed up until 2016 — was an iconic vehicle for the company, the direct successor to the original Series I, II, and III models on which Land Rover was founded,” according to Edmunds. “It inherited both the boxy looks and simple yet rugged design of its predecessors.”
By reviving the Defender, Land Rover is joining a growing list of automakers that are resuscitating long-lost models. Recent examples include Toyota bringing back the Supra and Ford reviving the Bronco and Ranger.
The new Land Rover Defender will come with a price tag of $49,900 to $80,900, depending on the packages and trim level.
The Land Rover Defender comes with an exhaustive suite of features.
The “Wade Sensing” system adjusts the vehicle height and air circulation to enable fording water up to 35.4 inches deep.
The front row gets a middle seat that Land Rover is calling the “jump seat.” A traditional rearview mirror can convert to digital video when someone’s sitting in the front middle seat.
It’s not quite a traditional bench seat, but it’s close.
“When not in use, the seatback folds down to provide a front armrest and additional storage, including a pair of additional cupholders,” Land Rover said.
The Land Rover Defender is pretty hefty. Its wheelbase is longer than the 3-row Land Rover Discovery SUV. It’s capable of seating seven.
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A smaller version about the size of a hatchback will be able to seat up to six if the jump seat, which is optional on the so-called Defender 90, is included.
The base model, known as the Defender 110, will get a 4-cylinder, 2-liter engine with 300 horsepower. A 6-cylinder, 3-liter engine with 400 horsepower will be offered.
The vehicle will be assembled at a plant in Nitra, Slovakia.
Land Rover says it tested the Defender in scorching-hot desert conditions, frigid arctic weather and mountain altitudes.
The vehicle comes in several trim models and offers multiple packages, such as an “Adventure Pack” that includes a “Portable Rinse System,” which is a pressurized water reservoir, hose and shower attachment that can be used to, for example, clean a pet off
Other features include:
- A side-hinged rear door.
- An aluminum body structure, or what Land Rover called its “stiffest” body yet of any vehicle.
- A brand-new infotainment system, dubbed PIVI Pro(12), that Land Rover says will reduce the average number of steps needed to perform vehicle functions by 50%.
- An optional steel strong box that can be used to store valuables like laptops and a deployable roof ladder.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.