SUVs

Land Rover teases new Defender again as development reaches a 'milestone'

1.2 million kilometers of testing seems like an arbitrary goalpost, though.

Whole cities would have rebelled had the Defender lost any of its harsh, rectilinear design.

Land Rover

Whether you knew about it or not, Monday marked World Land Rover Day, and to celebrate the occasion, Land Rover saw fit to bring us an update on the development of the next-generation Land Rover Defender.

Land Rover announced this week that its fleet of prototype Defenders has driven 1.2 million kilometers (about 745,000 miles) over the course of its development testing. It's been to the desert, it's been to the Arctic and it's been up in the thin mountain air as Land Rover's engineers prepare the Defender for its debut, which is rumored to happen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

But before that happens, Land Rover has a special task for its blocky ute. The automaker will partner with Tusk Trust to put the prototype to use at the Borana Conservancy, a rhino sanctuary in Nigeria. On this 35,000-acre reserve, the Defender will be put to work, carrying supplies, fording rivers and towing whatever it needs to. After all, the Defender is supposed to be a rugged, capable utility vehicle, so why not make sure it is?

Land Rover first teased the new Defender back in December. It took a few more days before Land Rover made the best kind of announcement possible: A declaration that the Defender would once again be offered for sale in the US. When it goes on sale in 2020, it'll be the first Defender to grace these amber waves of grain in more than 20 years.

Everything we know about the new Defender thus far is limited to its aesthetics. It's boxy, it's foxy and it's likely to carry much of the same tech found in other Land Rover vehicles, like the new Discovery or the refreshed Range Rover. As for the powertrain, considering Jaguar Land Rover has a number of engines at its disposal from I4s to V8s, it's anybody's guess, but given how Land Rover is touting the car's capability, it's probably packing one of the beefier options. We'll find out in just a few months.