Next Land Rover Defender Rumored to Launch in 2016
Aluminum Frame and Body Panels Help with Weight Loss
English magazine Autocar claims to have the inside scoop on the 2017 Land Rover Defender. The legendary off-roader, which is based on a 65-year-old design, will be replaced with an all-new model, but Land Rover claims that the new one won’t sacrifice any capability.
According to Autocar, the new Defender will likely use Land Rover’s aluminum monocoque architecture. But unlike most unibody vehicles, the Defender will also be mounted on a separate aluminum frame for extra rigidity and toughness. Land Rover has used this body-on-frame/unibody hybrid design before, but as you’d expect, it results in an extremely heavy vehicle. The Defender will address this problem through its lightweight aluminum construction. Unlike the Ford F-150 and (rumored) next-gen Jeep Wrangler, the Defender will have an aluminum frame, not just aluminum body panels.
The Defender will use Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) “Ingenium” family of engines for its propulsion. The Ingenium four-cylinder engines are turbocharged and powered by either diesel or gasoline. In the upcoming Jaguar XE, those engines make between 160 and 240 hp, but for the Defender, we bet they’ll be tuned for less horsepower and more torque. According to Autocar, the Defender will be available with a JLR V-6 as well.
Those engines are paired with 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions elsewhere in the JLR lineup, but it’s unclear if the Defender will get a traditional manual gearbox as well. We hope so, because off-road driving is one instance where the full control of a stick-and-clutch gearbox really comes in handy.
We’ve heard that the styling of the Defender has been finalized, and it won’t look like the DC 100 concepts from 2011. Those concept trucks were not deemed aggressive and sporty enough for the iconic Defender name. We’d expect a similar shape as the concepts with perhaps a few more gee-whiz styling elements. We also hope that the Defender doesn’t go the way of the Evoque and Discovery Sport, with their windswept profiles. No, for it to be a real Defender, it needs to be appropriately blocky and upright.
Whatever the truck ends up looking like, we’re sure that it will maintain the current model’s epic capability and ruggedness. Land Rover has never built an incapable vehicle; even the lame Freelander/LR2 was good off-road. We doubt they’d ever shame that reputation on something as celebrated as the Defender.