The first Land Rover Defender was an automotive icon that was heralded for its utilitarian looks and go-anywhere, do-anything capability. The original was so rugged that some owners would wash out the interior with a garden hose. Although you might not get away with hosing down the insides of the new one, the return of the Defender for 2020 is still a big deal for people who want a small but extremely capable SUV.
The new model looks to be a leader in its segment both on- and off-road. That said, production for the new car hasn’t started yet, so we won’t get our hands on the real thing for some time. While we’re left wondering what it’s like to drive, MotorTrend staffers descended on the Land Rover configurator to build their ideal Defender. Everyone had to pick a 110 model to spec because we aren’t getting the 90 until later next year.
There are hundreds of ways to customize the new car, however. Want something perfect for off-roading? You’ll need the Explorer Pack and some stubby all-terrain tires. Going for a more urban feel? Skip the roof rack and raised air intake and opt for the Meridian sound system and three-zone climate control instead. There’s no right or wrong way to spec a Defender; the only sin here would be opting for an Evoque instead.
Given our druthers, here are some of the ways we would build our perfect Defenders.
I’ll start us off. I’m a city boy born and raised, so I’d never even use half of the Defender’s off-road capability. That’s why my build has a focus on city driving. Remember what I said about the only sin being picking an Evoque? For some people, this spec will be sacrilege, but we live in a world where most SUVs never see anything but paved roads. Sorry, not sorry.
First off, I’m sticking with the base four-cylinder because gas is expensive in SoCal, and I don’t need the extra get-up-and-go of the 3.0-liter six. The first option box I’d tick is the Urban Pack; it only adds a few things like the metal pedals and a spare wheel cover. That keeps the outside free of useless clutter like a roof rack and mud flaps. Next I’d take the black exterior pack. Acorn leather and 14-way heated and cooled seats will keep me nice and cozy as I sit in L.A. traffic, and the Comfort and Convenience Pack plus the three-way climate control will certainly make my time on the 405 a breeze. I went with a white top and Tasman Blue body simply because it’ll compliment the tan interior, that and contrasting roofs are just cool. After the addition of some 22-inch black five-spoke wheels, I’m looking at $69,162.07 all in. Pricey, but I’m willing to bet this is what most Defenders will end up looking like. – Nick Yekikian
Any SUV I buy has to be overland ready, and that’s what I kept in mind when spec’ing my 2020 Land Rover Defender 110. Despite dropping $12,000 on options, I think I deserve a pat on the back for my Defender configuration; it’s quite simply everything I need and nothing I don’t. I started off with the base four-cylinder (because the plug-in hybrid isn’t on sale yet), and then dropped about $4,300 on the Explorer Pack, which includes everything from extra body armor to a snorkel and roof rack. That’s a tremendous value for all that kit, considering the same equipment would cost triple that on the aftermarket. I then splurged on green paint with a contrasting black roof, the black exterior package, and 18-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tires for their superior strength and ride quality.
I couldn’t resist splurging on the interior, adding the front bench seat purely for the novelty, heated seats, and a three-zone A/C to keep my pups comfortable in back. I rounded out my Defender with every single off-road package available (again, it’d cost way more to replicate the same feature set on the aftermarket) and a tow hitch. For $63,221.55 (I love that the Land Rover configurator includes cents), I’d get what looks to be a tremendously capable SUV for not much more than a loaded Jeep Wrangler Rubicon—and for significantly less than a Toyota Land Cruiser or Mercedes-Benz G 550. – Christian Seabaugh
The Defender is meant to be an elemental go-anywhere vehicle, so it seems stupid to option one up as a Range Rover wannabe. So hold the fancy Windsor leather, oak and walnut veneers, top-heavy pano-roofs, matte paint, Meridian audio systems, and giant alloy rims. I’ll take a base 110 with steelies and the $4,287 Explorer Pack to heighten the authenticity with mud flaps, wheel arch protection, a raised air intake, and a side-mounted gear carrier. I also can’t resist the $710 Pangea Green paint with an $870 contrasting white roof and a $600 black-out trim package. Inside I’m super bummed the fabric upholstery only comes in black, but I livened things up with a $200 white cross-car beam. My only other must-haves were the $1,630 towing package (which also buys the highly desirable All-Terrain Progress Control and configurable Terrain Response 2 off-road enhancing systems), the $1,275 Driver Assist Pack (radar cruise control is addictive), a cargo net, and carpeted floor mats for when we’re doing city duty. All in, I’m at $60,932. – Frank Markus
Going against the grain, I’m building a Defender ready to tackle Southern California’s mall parking lots and smoothie stands. My Defender will make the rappers and Kardashians of the world take notice. Unfortunately, the bank account doesn’t benefit from a make-up empire or reality TV show, so I’ll opt for the base Defender 110 model with an MSRP of just under $50K on my beer budget.
When it comes to the exterior, I’m aiming for the murdered-out look. Luckily the Santorini Black exterior metallic paint ($710) fits that bill nicely. And of course, the Black Exterior Package ($600) is a must-have. When it comes to wheels, no self-respecting baller would be seen with anything less than 20s. Thankfully Land Rover has seen fit to provide a set of 22-inch dubs in gloss black ($4,700) for the Defender. On the inside the Ebony Windsor leather interior ($6,725) would be great, but I must practice some restraint and go with the regular fabric seats. Here’s a curveball: The Smokers Pack ($50) adds a lighter socket and ashtray. Why? Because this option will make my Defender ultra-rare, and it would be a great conversation piece. My baller on a budget total comes in at $57,385…boo-ya! – Tom Rosquin
Land Rovers are luxury commodities. Their owners should have an air of mystique about them. So a Santorini Black exterior is a must, although going with the cool Acorn leather interior is also a must in sun-soaked SoCal. Because I’m urban most of the time, the added sidewall of the 19-inch wheels helps with ride comfort. And also because I’m urban and need to dodge and weave through traffic, the sub-6-second 0-60 mph time of the 3.0-liter turbo is a must, as well as smart cruise control for when there’s no beating the slog. If you have a Landie, then you likely have a doggie, so the Country Pack (with the cargo separator and the portable rinse system) is how you keep the Sir Barksalot from muddying up the rest of the car (which will be leather everywhere, of course). A refrigerated center console will keep the bubbly chilled until we reach our destination, and the thunderous Meridian sound system will keep us entertained along the way. – Mark Rechtin
Looks rather plain, doesn’t it? With intention, I assure you. I am truly enamored with the Defender, so I tried to spec it out the way I might actually buy it. That starts with the base model P300 AWD Automatic and the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine as I’m hoping the inline-4 will be the lightest, simplest, and therefore most reliable of the powertrain options (which include a twin-charged, mild hybrid straight-six as well as a probable plug-in hybrid model). I skipped the accessory packs. Even though there is value to them, I couldn’t stand some of the sillier options like the goofy side-mounted gear carriers mounted near the vehicle’s rear corners. They don’t appear to hold much, but they do seem to block your view out of the rear side windows, which is kind of essential when off-roading.
Despite trying to keep the costs down, I still managed to add nearly $12K in accessories, like the blacked-out roof and trim package. I would probably go for that in real life, especially if the dealer offered a badge delete option (no need to spell out Defender across the nose). Coolest feature I love aside from the 18-inch steel wheels? The front jump seat. More car makers need to bring back the front middle seat, especially as shift-by-wire becomes the de facto way to control the transmission. Why not put your honey, honeychild, or pup where the mechanical shift linkage used to be? The question is, why can’t you select the jump seat and the optional third row to make the Defender an eight-passenger (3/3/2) off-road MPV. Because I dream less of transcontinental overlanding and more of Baja surf camping trips these days, I kept the options light. The Off-Road Pack ($1,345) swaps the all-seasons for knobbier tires, a power outlet, and a brake-based torque vectoring system, and goes well with the towing pack ($1,630). My accessories are similarly surf focused—longboard-appropriate crossbars ($342, which didn’t make it into the pictures for some reason), the longer, Classic mud flaps ($107 each for front and rear sets), along with two pricey items: a raised air intake snorkel at $834 and the integrated air compressor ($974). I rationalized those costs by adding the winch, a relative steal at $233.58. Why did I avoid the power rinse system ($406.98)? Because I have one already. So, would I buy this $61,716.58 Defender? Not before I drive it. – Ed Loh
For my Defender, I initially thought I’d want a 110 with steelies and nothing else. But the more time I spend playing around with the configurator, the more I realized that’s not at all what I wanted. I went with a Defender 110 X, with the six-cylinder engine—because power. Next, I went with a brown (Gondwana Stone) exterior with the $3,800 satin protective film because I would bash this thing off every shrub and rock I could. Ask Land Rover; they know me. Ideally, I’d like black five-spoke 18-inch wheels so I could get meatier tires. All Land Rover will sell us are big 20-inchers, though, so I’ll have to look to the aftermarket. There are 19-inch wheels available on the configurator, but they ain’t for my rig! 18-inch wheels probably won’t clear the brakes. Anyhow, 20s will work.
I wanted to get some of the available accessory packs, but the ones that add stuff I’d want (roof rack, snorkel) also add tons of crud I don’t (spare tire cover, mud flaps, that weird box that hangs off the C-pillar). As such, my car looks a bit more stripped than I thought it would going in. But you know what? I like it. Especially with the matching interior. Now, if I can just figure out how to delete those preposterous rectangles from the side glass… – Jonny Lieberman
A Defender should stand for one thing only: rugged capability. So why did Land Rover have to make the new one so damn stylish? I tried to balance this polarity into my 110 build, with a simple silver exterior contrasted by a black roof, grille, hood lettering, and wheels. As rad as those basic steel wheels are, I couldn’t resist bumping up to split-six-spoke 19s also finished in black. Off-road tires are a must, of course. Seats dressed in Khaki leather with its greenish hue seemed appropriately classic yet distinctive, and I chose the refrigerated center console compartment to keep beverages cold while traveling through the desert sands.
This being a Defender, I had to check every off-road option box I could find. That meant standard and advanced off-road capability packs to add the electronic differential, brake-based torque vectoring, and Land Rover’s suite of dirt-oriented technology. The raised snorkel, four-corner flaps, and deep-sided rubber floor mats will only encourage me to get muddy, and the portable rinse system hose attachment will let me spray it all down. Still, road driving is an inevitability, so I added adaptive cruise control. And since my mountain bike will likely accompany me on most Defender drives, a roof-mounted carrier system bolts to the top crossbars. Time to get out there and get lost. – Alex Leanse
Old Defenders, Land Cruisers, and Patrols surrounded me as a kid. That’s one of the reasons the 2020 Land Rover Defender is so nostalgic. My ideal configuration starts with the 110S trim with 19-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, and a Pangea Green exterior. From there I’d add heated and ventilated front seats, two-tone Acorn Windsor leather upholstery, and virtually every option package available except the cosmetic-focused ones for maximum comfort, capability, and safety. Jaguar Land Rover’s 2.0-liter turbo-four makes a healthy 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty in my book and should serve well for crawling over rocks and going through trails. Total price for my ideal 2020 Defender? $62,865. Not bad considering you can load this truck up to over $80,000. – Stefan Ogbac