There’s a distinction here that Land Rover makes, but most people don’t. Rather than use the term sport utility vehicle (or SUV), some senior Land Rover folks refer to the new Defender as a 4×4, pure and simple.
In a world filled with SUVs, crossovers, Xs, Scouts, XCs and whatever other tall hatchbacks are called, that’s quite refreshing. You know exactly what Land Rover means without having to expand further.
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In 1986, even before it was called the Defender, there was a television commercial for the Land Rover that showed it exiting a road and fording a river, with the driver attaching a winch to the front and the car dragging itself up against the wall. from a dam.
Patrick Stewart called up the voiceover. “It’s worth remembering that nothing…but nothing…gets in the way of a Land Rover,” he bellowed as the Dam Busters theme echoed in the background. The caption on the screen read: “Land Rover. The best 4 x 4 x far.”
That the company still likes to call the Defender a 4×4 today probably means something, and probably not just symbolically. The Defender is designed to pick up, to some extent, where the old one left off when it ceased production in 2016, with hints of what also made the Land Rover Discovery 3 and Discovery 4 so appealing.
Sport doomed: The Defender must and will deliver an imperiously relaxed on-road driving experience, while focusing its capabilities hard to ensure it can go further off-road than the competition.
Whether it actually does that depends on what the competition is and how the terrain is underfoot. This is a big, heavy car. The key to its appeal, however, is that it tries to make off-road as painless as possible.