All-new Land Rover Defender helped protect elephants in Kenya for testing purposes

Production of the all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender is reportedly ramping up at the company’s plant in Nitra, Slovakia. We’re still a few months away from seeing the finished product, though, and many details surrounding it are still not very clear.

We have had our best look at it so far, courtesy of an official video (and photo gallery) that highlighted the fact that pre-production prototype Defenders were actually used by park rangers in Kenya. The video is meant to evoke the Defender’s outdoorsy spirit and its capability in the toughest conditions in the world, but what we were more interested in was to get a better glimpse of of the car itself - and we did, even though the video doesn’t really have any clear closeups of the car.

So what will the 2020 Land Rover Defender look like?

Well, it’s a really boxy looking thing and no amount of camo can hide its squared off look. Previous camouflaged prototypes were hiding more details, but this one in the video is pretty much only covered in a wrap and the vehicle underneath that wrap is the one you will be able to order by this year’s end.

Its front fascia has high-set headlights (they look like full LED units, but we might be wrong on that), and a very short overhang.

This vehicle was clearly designed to tackle big obstacles off-road and it, therefore, has an excellent approach angle that’s helped by its stubby nose and bumper that doesn’t go as low as it does on more city-oriented SUVs.

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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There’s nothing too dramatic about its front end. The hood has a simple bulge that may or may not serve a functional purpose (it could be there just for show,) and the wheel arches are nicely flared to not only accommodate the kind of wheel articulation that this vehicle is supposed to pull off, but also make it look muscular and planted - it’s a good look. Oh, and we also noticed the integrated snorkel that runs up the left A-pillar - it’s definitely one of the many accessories that you will be able to spec on your new Defender from the factory.

From the side, it’s about as squared off as cars get these days.

There is no taper anywhere, its roof line doesn’t fall towards the rear, and the rear cargo door itself is also vertical.

The monotony at the rear end is broken up by the big spare tire holder, but other than that, it really looks like a simple, minimalist design with few design flourishes (at least ones we would be able to see through the camouflage).

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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Overall, the Defender’s move upmarket is oh so clear. Land Rover wants it to gain premium status, something that its agricultural and quite rudimentary predecessor could never aspire to. This go-anywhere box on wheels needs to steal buyers away from the likes of the Mercedes G-Class, so it needs to feel like a more luxurious vehicle, and we’re sure the manufacturer is aware of this and has factored it into its design of the new Defender.

What’s under the 2020 Land Rover Defender’s skin?

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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Land Rover’s new MLA (Modular Longitudinal Platform) architecture is what underpins the 2020 Defender, and it not only improves efficiency and capability both on and off-road compared to the old Defender, but it also allows for a lot more on-board tech to be added to the package.

Two versions of the Defender will be available - the long-wheelbase five-door 110 model and the shorter three-door 90 model.

Both will have a choice of 2.0-liter gasoline and diesel engines - the same ones already used to power most other Jaguar-Land Rover cars. Both automatic and manual transmissions will be on offer too.

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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The automaker does mention the platform is designed to accommodate a regular internal combustion engine powertrain, as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and even a fully-electric one where the battery pack is placed in the floor. The latter will work because it doesn’t require a prop shaft to send power from the engine in the front to the wheels in the rear.

Another big mechanical change over its predecessor is the fully-independent rear suspension. This should significantly improve the Defender’s on-road manners and comfort, and it shouldn’t be a limiting factor off-road. You will also be able to order it with factory air suspension for the first time, so it will also have a variable ride height in some models, further improving its breadth of abilities.

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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Four-wheel drive will obviously be part of the package and, with its newfound techy edge, the new Defender should also come with the latest version of Land Rover’s terrain response system and selectable driving modes too. So it will rely on both its mechanical grip and new electronic aids to help it in the rough stuff.

But, even with its new approach that infuses the Defender with extra refinement, tech and, more gadgets, Land Rover insists that this is not only going to be even more capable than the old Defender, but that it will, in fact, be the most capable model the company has ever made.

This kind of statement makes us really curious and eager to see it and learn more about what makes it tick.

When should we expect to (finally) see the 2020 Land Rover Defender?

2020 Land Rover Defender reveals a bit more skin in new photos and video
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Word has it that the all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender will debut this September, although this has not been officially confirmed by the manufacturer.

The biggest motoring venue that month is the 2019 Frankfurt motor show (2019 IAA), so most likely that’s where it’s going to be revealed. And, since Land Rover says the new Defender is “the best 4x4 x far,” September can’t come soon enough to answer all the questions we still have about it.

Further Reading

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Land Rover Defender SVR.

2007 Land Rover Defender
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Read our full review on the Land Rover Defender.

The 2020 Land Rover Defender is Aimed at the Heart of North America
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All-New Land Rover Defender Debuts This September, Goes On Sale In 2020

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