Jaguar Land Rover announced Thursday that a fully redesigned Defender SUV will be sold in the United States and Canada come 2020, marking the model's return after a North American hiatus of more than 22 years.
The original Defender was produced across a 33-year period spanning 1983 to 2016 in three "series," seeing minimal redesign during this time. North American Specification (NAS) Defenders were sold in the U.S. and Canada between 1993 and 1997, after which Land Rover decided the Defender's conversion to "NAS" spec wasn't profitable enough and discontinued the model in the North American market. Land Rover continued to sell the Defender elsewhere until 2016 when it built its last series three Defender.
Soon enough, the Defender will be back, this time redesigned from the ground up. To ensure the new generation of Defender retains the reputation earned by its predecessor, Land Rover has grueling tests planned for the vehicle. Prototypes that arrived earlier this December on American shores will commence trials in January of 2019 to ensure that the Defender can operate reliably in a broad range of conditions. Temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, altitudes in excess of 13,000 feet, and every type of terrain imaginable will be thrown at the Defender to ensure its worthiness of the Defender name.
Sometime in 2019, Land Rover will reveal the production-spec Defender, with plans to ship the model to its North American showrooms in 2020. As a modern Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) product, it will boast JLR's safety assist technologies, as well as connectivity features for its infotainment systems. It is believed the Defender will be sold in two wheelbase lengths of 90 and 110 inches, named the Defender 90 and Defender 110 respectively.
"There are a handful of automobiles that are beloved around the world and stand for a brand, a country and a distinct way of life. The Land Rover Defender is such a singular vehicle," said JLR North America's Vice President of Marketing Kim McCullough. "On behalf of Land Rover and our retailers, we are proud to announce the voices of American and Canadian customers has been heard: The all-new Defender will be for sale here starting in 2020. This announcement is a holiday gift to our Defender fans in North America and a hint of what's to come in the New Year."