Jaguar Land Rover confirmed Thursday what many in the auto industry already suspected: Its upcoming Defender SUV will be available in the U.S.
The U.K.-based automaker will reveal the new generation of the Defender in next year. It will go on sale in the U.S. and Canada in 2020.
The new Defender has been spotted on European roads, and Land Rover started testing in North America earlier this month. The company released images of the vehicle in heavy camouflage to disguise its final design and styling.
Land Rover produced the previous generation Defender globally for 33 years until 2016. It sold the vehicle in the U.S. only from 1993 to 1997.
The new Defender will be test driven at elevations surpassing 13,000 feet and in temperatures ranging from minus 40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme testing parameters will ensure that the 2020 Defender is the most off-road-capable Land Rover vehicle ever, the company said.
The statement sets a high bar. Land Rovers – even aging models – are considered among the most capable off-road vehicles available.
A survey of attendees at the annual Overland Expo West said Land Rover is the fourth-most owned brand behind Toyota, Jeep and Ford – companies that produce vastly greater units than Land Rover. Parking lots surrounding the off-roading event were filled with Defenders outfitted for adventure.
Land Rover expects the 2020 Defender to continue that rugged reputation.
“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,” said Kim McCullough, vice president of marketing for Jaguar Land Rover North America. “The Land Rover Defender is such a singular vehicle.”
The automaker revealed little else about the upcoming SUV. Official images show only the four-door version traditionally known as the Defender 110. However, spy photographers have spotted the two-door Defender 90 undergoing testing as well.
It is unknown whether Land Rover plans to revive its Defender 130 pickup truck.
The automaker is expected to equip the SUV with a range of powertrains. A gas or diesel four-cylinder could serve as the base engine alongside an optional six-cylinder. Jaguar Land Rover also could offer a plug-in or all-electric version, borrowing technology from its I-Pace EV and plug-in Range Rover.
The 2020 Defender will feature an independent rear suspension for the first time. The suspension is clearly visible in photographs and should offer improved ride quality and fuel economy compared with traditional solid axles.
The 2020 Defender will be built in Nitra, Slovakia. Previous models were produced in Solihull, England.