What’s an SUV? That isn’t always an easy question to answer these days. Buyers across segments don’t seem to want cars anymore; everyone wants an SUV. So, of course, every car wants to be an SUV, which is why you have softroaders, crossovers, compact SUVs, SUV-inspired hatchbacks, and more. Marketing types everywhere know a good idea when they see one; take a regular hatchback, jack it up a bit for slightly increased ride height, slap on a bigger set of wheels, bolt on some plastic cladding on the sides and on the wheel arches, add an extra dollop or two of chrome, give it a fancy new paint job and a cool sounding name, and there you have it — a brand-new SUV for the unsuspecting masses.
We aren’t saying all new SUVs are mere pretenders. No, of course not. There are some genuinely good sports utility vehicles out there, which are at least reasonably good to drive on tarmac and, with 4WD, have a fair bit of off-road capabilities as well. But on the other hand, many are only styled to look like an SUV and don’t really have the all-around-go any where capability that defines the real thing. In order to clear the confusion about what is and isn’t the real deal, all one has to do is take a look at the new Land Rover Defender, because it simply doesn’t get more ‘real’ than this. The Land Rover Defender is an SUV in the way Pope Francis is a Catholic, or like Jeff Bezos is wealthy, or like Warren Buffett is a stock market investor. For the most part, there simply isn’t any better.
For the Defender, being an SUV isn’t about being fashionable. Land Rover launched the original Defender 110 back in 1983 (its shorter wheelbase brother, the Defender 90 came out in ’84) and the vehicle quickly made a name for itself for being a tough-as-nails 4x4 that could take you anywhere, and get you back in one piece. The ‘Defender’ nameplate was born in 1990, which is also when Land Rover started the journey towards added refinement for more widespread appeal. With many updates over the years, the Defender had a long and successful run until 2016, when Land Rover stopped producing the vehicle. The company was already laying the groundwork for its next generation Defender, which was unveiled in late 2019.
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