Jeremy Clarkson Reviews 2020 Land Rover Defender, Prefers the Ford Ranger Raptor

When Land Rover approached Jeremy Clarkson to review the all-new Defender, the 60-year-old journalist and presenter was determined to dislike the luxurious SUV with unibody construction. But as it often happens to J.C., his assumption was eventually turned upside down.

Writing for The Sunday Times, the tallest of the three amigos on The Grand Tour“was never a fan of the old Defender.” Jeremy Clarkson isn’t particularly smitten by the die-hard fans who prefer the body-on-frame model and the Land Rover Series, and I totally see where he’s coming from.

Take, for instance, the Wrangler. Over the course of four generations, Jeep didn’t change the essentials, but did improve the breed in ways that actually make sense. A more comfortable driving position, better steering, improved ride quality, even a plug-in hybrid; Jeep did all that but didn’t dare switch from a body-on-frame 4×4 to a luxed-up sport utility vehicle.

Land Rover, by comparison, abandoned the good ol’ ladder frame even though it wasn’t necessary. Even Ford tapped into the Wrangler’s segment with the pickup truck-based Bronco because there’s a lot of money to be made in this market. As for the all-new Defender, well, Richard Hammond believes that Land Rover should’ve named it Discovery and call it a day.

Turning our attention back to Clarkson, he’s most impressed by the interior, technological trickery, and off-road capability of the short-wheelbase model he reviewed. The “pointlessly visible screw heads” on the door cards are not to his liking, and the price tag left him baffled at 62,000 pounds sterling. A well-equipped spec with a six-pot engine soars past 80,000 pounds sterling, and that’s a big no-no because it’s full-size Range Rover territory.

“Excuse me, but if I want a vehicle to cart around bales of straw and sheep — and I do, by the way — why would I spend £50,000-plus on a Defender?” Clarkson further wrote for The Sunday Driving Times that his tester was bonging hysterically at him when maneuvering near blades of grass, and I’m pretty lost for words about that. An off-roader is scared of grass, really?

Two more problems Jeremy has highlighted are the wind noise on the motorway and “the sort of constant diagonal pitching motion.” The verdict? Well, J.C. likes the brand-new Defender, but he “can’t see the point of it.”

He says the Range Rover is a much better alternative for well-to-do people who commute every weekend to a nice estate in the British countryside, though surprisingly enough, Jeremy Clarkson would pick a very different type of vehicle to call his own. Instead of the Defender, J.C. would rather have the “cheaper, more tax-efficient, and more practical Ford Ranger Raptor.”


Article Credit: Mircea Panait
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Tiff Needell Reviews 2020 Land Rover Defender On and Off the Road

After Richard Hammond had a go in the all-new Defender, Tiff Needell is much obliged to give his thoughts on that very same Defender. Seriously, just check the license plates! But as opposed to Richard’s criticism, Tiff defends the unibody sport utility vehicle for an understandable reason.

Speaking of body-on-frame models of old, our protagonist remembers how much he hated driving the Defender on the road for “more than a dozen or so miles.” Land Rover Defenders from that era definitely aren’t luxurious, and the ride quality isn’t comparable to the air suspension of the newcomer.

Once in the driver’s seat, Needell can’t escape the feeling that he’s in something different from the previous generation of the Defender and the Land Rover Series from days long gone. The heritage design elements such as the exposed screw heads and chunky grab handles “are just token gestures,” though. Make no mistake about it, “this car is all about luxury.”

As far as the driving experience is concerned, “this is nothing like the Defender of old. This is an enjoyable family SUV.” Right after that line, Tiff corrects himself by adding “sorry Land Rover, four by four.” Reading between the lines, the people behind the Defender wanted the Defender to appeal to a much wider audience than the body-on-frame model. Given the high starting price of the newcomer, profit margins had a huge say as well.

At 43,625 pounds sterling for the short-wheelbase version with the mild-hybrid and twin-turbo diesel Ingenium engine, there’s no denying Land Rover is gunning for different customers. Compare that price to 23,100 pounds sterling for the body-on-frame Defender in 2016, and you can clearly tell how much has changed in such a short amount of time. But does it surprise you? Lest we forget, demand for SUVs is at an all-time high.

Tiff also takes the newcomer off-road, worrying about the fancy wheels, but the Landie does a good job in this scenario without breaking a sweat. As for the verdict, Mr. Needell gives the Defender his blessing.

Still, something’s been bugging me about the whole review. As one YouTuber puts it in the comments section, “is this a car review or an advertorial?”

Article Credit: Mircea Panait
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