Land Rover is one of the most iconic car manufacturers in the world. The British brand specializes in the production of hard-wearing and rugged four wheel drive off-road vehicles that can tackle almost any terrain. Over the years, the brand has seen more than its fair shares of ups and downs, with numerous ownership changes and trying financial times. Despite all of this, the legendary brand is still with us today, continuing to make excellent off-road vehicles, with an increasing interest in building quality road-focused luxury vehicles too. It hasn’t been an easy last few years though.
Together with Jaguar, the Jaguar Land Rover brand has been in bit of a slump recently. In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover saw a record breaking global sales figure of 621,109 units sold. A year later, in 2018, that figure fell by 4.6% to 592,708 units. Difficult market conditions in China were blamed to the subsequent sales dip, with Chinese sales shrinking by a huge 21.6% across the entire year. 2019 was also a bad year. JLR experienced more losses, seeing the brand experience a 5.9% drop in sales, with only 557,706 units sold.
Again, the shrinking Chinese market and a falling demand for diesel vehicles in Europe were the main reasons for the negative growth. It’s not all bad news though. While the sales have been a bit of downward spiral, 2019’s December sales look hopeful. The Chinese market looks like it’s recovering, and global sales actually grew by 1.3% in December. 2019 was very much a year of two halves for the brand.
While the Chinese and European markets have been volatile, the US market has been pretty kind to Land Rover. Land Rover (not inclusive of Jaguar’s sales) sold an impressive 74,739 models in the USA in 2017. In 2018, that figure increased by a very impressive 23%, bringing 2018’s Land Rover sales to a huge 92,143 in total. The trend continued in 2019, with Land Rover selling a record breaking 94,736 units to American customers. That’s a remarkable 3% increase.
In fact, it’s safe to say that Land Rover is doing very well in the US market. There new models have been selling well, with 25,768 Range Rover Sport models sold in 2019, and an impressive 17,087 Range Rover Velar sold in the same period. It’s been a record breaking year in almost every sense of the word for Land Rover.
The Jaguar side of the Jaguar Land Rover partnership hasn’t performed as well. It has also suffered from poor sales recently, but since 2017, the brand has shown steady growth, with signs that things are finally going the right way for the legendary British marque. The future will be interesting for Jaguar Land Rover, but the company shows plenty of enthusiasm and has ambitious plans to revolutionize their product range over the coming years.
From 2020 onward, all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be offered with some form of electrification. While there will be a huge interest in mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles, Land Rover and Jaguar will also continue to deliver both diesel and gasoline internal combustion engine technology for driving purists. The brand’s focus on offering a wide range of choices for their customers is an excellent strategy, which should lead to a brighter future for Jaguar Land Rover.
For now, we’re going to take a look at what might be on offer in the 2021 Land Rover range. Details are thin on the ground at present, and there’s more rumor than fact being spread around. So let’s take a look at what the word on the street is, and try and discern the fact from fiction.
What To Expect From The 2021 Land Rover Line-Up
2021 Land Rover Defender Entry-Level
Back in September 2019, Land Rover pulled the covers off of their brand new Defender model. It was met with universal acclaim and praise, though there were some critics who believed that the new generation of Defender somehow lost the original (and iconic) ruggedness that the good ol’ Defender is supposed to have ingrained in its DNA. And while it’s true that many once-dedicated, hard-wearing, off-road beasts are slowly morphing into comfortable SUVs for little more than city driving, Land Rover’s designers were quick to insist that this wasn’t the case with the new Defender.
For example, the new-generation Land Rover Defender features a unibody construction rather than the older Defender’s body-on-frame arrangement; this new construction allows for a fully independent suspension system rather than relying on axles. The new suspension system uses coils as standard, but can be upgraded to air suspension, allowing for full adjust-ability. In stock trim, new Defender has 11.5 inches of real ground clearance, with the ability to wade through 35.4 inches of water without problems.
The 2020 Defender also comes with a selection of engines to choose from so that drivers can make the most out of their ride experience. The standard mill is a turbocharged four-cylinder, but enthusiasts can upgrade to a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six with an electric supercharger and 48-volt hybrid system too. Power is transferred through an eight speed automatic transmission for both engines, with all-wheel drive and locking differentials as standard. As you can see, the Land Rover is still an off-road masterpiece, in either the two-door Defender 90, or four-door Defender 110 configurations. The price is what makes it a little off-putting though.
With prices starting from $50,000, you can see why people might be a little reluctant to take one for a spin through waist high mud, or smash through trails with low hanging branches. But Land Rover has a trick up its sleeve. For 2021, it will be releasing an entry-level model at a more wallet-friendly price point. Land Rover also has plans to release an even more plush model with an incredibly high price tag too, but more on that later.
According to Land Rover sources, 2021 will bring this entry-level Defender, which is currently understood to be codenamed L860. The same sources suggest that the budget-friendly Defender will be a five-door, with a design based on the new Defender aesthetic, but with different underpinnings. The word is that the new platform will be able to support plug-in hybrid technology, and will be available with either a turbocharged or 48-volt hybrid 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine. It’s also expected that the “baby” Defender will be a front-wheel drive affair. Though, it’s also expected that four-wheel drive and four-cylinder engine options may still arrive.
And what will it cost? The estimates for the new 2021 Land Rover Defender entry-level model are around $33,000 and up. It will make a worthy rival to the likes of the BMW X1 or Audi Q3, but the Land Rover heritage might give it the edge over the competition—if it comes to US shores, that is.
This isn’t the only exciting new from Land Rover. There is also talk of an even more luxurious Defender going into production which is touted to be a fully-electric model with a price tag that’s up and over $100,000. The delivery date for this is likely to be a few years away yet, in around 2024 or 2025.
2021 Land Rover Range Rover Crossover
If you think that the new Defender appears to put luxury over practical off-road ability, then the new Range Rover Crossover isn’t going to be for you. The upcoming 2021 Land Rover Range Rover Crossover is all about luxury, with any illusions about off-road capabilities erased almost entirely. It’s still in the design phase at the moment, but sources are suggesting that we’re looking at a low and sleek SUV that showcases what a Land Rover luxury car could be. Keep in mind that a lot can happen between now and the final production model, and a lot can change. Still, here’s what we know so far.
This will be the first significant attempt from Land Rover to build a car that prioritizes luxury and on-road comfort rather than pure off-road performance. Here’s what Land Rover’s Design Director Gerry McGovern had to say about the Range Rover Crossover project: “For me, what we’ve actually shown is the ability of the brand to stretch and be different. We always have been quite pioneering. Let me just put it this way – if people like Bentley and Rolls-Royce can do an SUV, why can’t Land Rover or Range Rover do a luxury car?”
It’s certainly true; there’s no reason that Land Rover can’t flip the current trend of manufacturing SUVs on its head. The question is: should they do it? Purists might think that the addition of a luxury crossover to the range might water down the Land Rover name. And it might. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, who dares wins, et cetera, right? It can only fail—but if sales of the Range Rover Evoque are anything to go by, the buying public don’t mind if Land Rover sells out a little bit. What might be more of bone of contention is the addition of electrification. That might upset purists more.
According to the usual unnamed sources, the new Range Rover Crossover will be available with a choice of a mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric powertrain. We know that the Crossover will be built on Land Rover’s MLA platform, which has room enough for front and rear axle-mounted electric motors. For an all-electric version, these motors will no doubt be powered by a 100 kWh battery which is small enough to fit the crossover’s smaller dimensions, keep kerb weight relatively low, without compromising range and usability. 300 miles of range per charge seems like a reasonable guesstimate. Naturally, the electric motors will enable the Range Rover Crossover to have four wheel drive.
Other reports mention the overall aesthetics of the new luxury Crossover. It’s expected to be low and sleek, featuring a swept-back roofline, with elegant curves, a customary steep windshield, and LED lighting. Apart from that, we know that the 2021 Range Rover Crossover will be built at the Jaguar Land Rover Castle Bromwich plant. That is all we know. We will have to wait and see what 2021 brings, and whether the Crossover gets unveiled alongside any other exciting electrified Land Rover models too—because there’s talk of a PHEV Defender, a PHEV Discovery Sport, and an all-electric classic Range Rover coming up in 2020 or 2021 too.
What About The Land Rover Pick-Up?
The second-generation Land Rover Defender was a resounding success when the covers were pulled off of it at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. At the launch, we saw the three-door Defender 90, and the five-door Defender 110 variants. These unveilings were revealed alongside the promise of a longer wheel-base model, in the form of the upcoming Defender 130, and stoked rumors of something even more attractive: a Defender pickup truck.
As soon as the words “Land Rover” and “Pickup” were mentioned in the same sentence, the rumor mill went into overdrive. We were expecting to see something along the lines of a Land Rover pickup in 2020, possibly as a 2021 Land Rover model. Unfortunately, it seems that Land Rover has put those plans on hold, or scrapped them altogether, if quotes from an unnamed Land Rover executive is to be believed. (When it comes to unsubstantiated rumors, no one ever wants to name these sources, do they?)
The quote makes sense though. It discusses the point and purpose of a pickup truck variant if the new longer-wheelbase Defender 130 manages to tick all of the right boxes anyway. It was originally rumored that the Defender 130 and the pickup would share the same underpinnings, so there would be little point of having two models that are essentially the same hitting the sales floors. Here’s the quote from Australia’s Car Sales publication: “Why would you buy a dual-cab ute when you see what you can put in the back of one of these—this is already a ute with a roof.” It’s a fairly valid point.
If it’s all to be believed, we can kiss goodbye to any hope of a Land Rover pickup surfacing in the near future. It doesn’t really matter though—not for American car buyers, at least. Since the new Defender is being manufactured in Slovakia, it makes it subject to the Chicken Tax. The Chicken Tax was introduced in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson in response to Europe’s tax on imported chicken meat; in return, Johnson slapped a 25% import tax on foreign-made light trucks. Imagine adding a 25% increase to the $50,000 Defender base price! $62,500 would be quite a hefty price tag. The Land Rover pickup just couldn’t compete in the American market anyway.
Don’t despair though. The Defender 90 and Defender 110 will both be available in the United States, and the upcoming Defender 130 with the longer wheelbase will also make its way over here too.