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The Defender is Back

The Land Rover Defender is back after a too-long absence from the U.S. market. This boxy off-roader combines the luxury of a Land Rover with the off-road chops of, well, a Land Rover. Available with two-doors or four-doors, if you’re looking for a luxury SUV equally suited to city streets and muddy fields with stand-out styling, then you should take a closer look at the 2020 Land Rover Defender.

Let’s start with the look of the Defender. You’re either going to love this SUV or think it’s odd. We rather like its style because it doesn’t look like every other SUV on the road. It’s boxier than the rest, tall, and imposing. It looks like it should be capable and because this is a Land Rover, it lives up to that expectation.

There’s a tailgate-mounted spare tire that gives it an old-school vibe, but that tire is flanked by rounded square lights that are thoroughly modern. There are inset panels on the hood that look a bit like tire tracks and give what would otherwise be an expanse of sheet metal some visual punch. It’s modern and vintage all at once and it attracts attention.

Tough Luxury

Inside, there’s seating for up to seven with an airy, open interior. Those in back get a bit of extra light thanks to what Land Rover calls Alpine lights. These narrow, rectangular windows sit at the roofline and not only brighten the interior but add to the Defender’s unique presence.

Nothing in this SUV is delicate or timid. While some luxury SUVs have a level of refinement that make them feel fragile, not so with the Defender. It’s comfortable, with quality materials throughout and feels every bit the luxury vehicle, but it’s not one you’ll be afraid to get dirty. There’s a toughness to the Defender’s interior that won’t have you panicked the first time the family dog runs through it with muddy paws.

And there will be mud if you’re doing it right because the Defender has ample off-road capability. All-wheel drive is standard along with hill descent control, and a range of drive modes to suit most every terrain. The Terrain Response system allows for normal, rock crawl, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, or sand modes. The Defender can also wade through nearly three feet of water. If you have serious off-road plans, then the Defender is ready.

Plenty of Power

Power for the Defender 110 SE we drove comes from a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine with 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s a responsive powertrain that has no trouble getting the Defender’s bulk up to highway speeds. Much like the interior of the Defender is rugged without the delicacy of other luxury SUVs, the engine in the Defender isn’t a mild-mannered thing.

You feel and hear its power when you step on the gas, but it’s not intrusive or annoying. This capable SUV is still a luxury vehicle, so there’s nothing harsh about the engine or the ride. It’s power with a dose of refinement. As capable as it is off-road, on-road it’s well-mannered and composed making it a relaxing ride for driver and passenger alike.

While there are other vehicles that can handle off-road adventures, there aren’t many that also boast a luxury pedigree. That sets the Defender apart from the rest, as does its price. As tested, with extras including a sliding panoramic roof, heated third row, 14-way heated and cooled front seats, and three-zone climate control with rear cooling assist, our Defender came in at $75,440.

It’s not the most affordable off-road choice, but those looking for an off-road luxury SUV will find it’s well worth the investment.

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In this episode, Kristin and Aaron talk about friends who are looking to replace their Ford Flex models. On Kristin’s side, her friend still needs a family vehicle and wants to keep the versatility of a crossover, but has some specific requirements that we discuss. On Aaron’s side, his friend is downsizing vehicles and looking to go into the luxury realm for a replacement. Got questions? Ask us! Leave a comment below, find us on Facebook, Twitter, etc., or hit up our website and let us know your thoughts.

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Mountain biker? Camper? Outdoor enthusiast? This Jeep is for you.

Using exclusive Jeep performance parts and custom accessories, Mopar designers transformed a 2020 Jeep Gladiator into a fun concept vehicle for mountain bikers.

Loaded with nearly 20 performance parts, the Gladiator Top Dog Concept was created for passionate mountain bike enthusiasts, but it’s also attractive to anyone who likes to have everything but the kitchen sink in one vehicle.

A hot-dog roller grill, y’all. Buns and mustard not included.

Painted K-9 Blue, the Jeep “Top Dog” concept expands the cargo-carrying abilities by removing the standard cargo box and replacing it with a custom PCOR flatbed storage system. On the passenger side of the storage system, pull-out drawers securely store tools and supplies that mountain bikers need when out on the trails.  Interior storage shelves, exterior lighting switches and extra power supplies are within reach.

On the driver’s side of the storage system, a battery-powered refrigerator and electric hot-dog roller grill stand ready to refuel riders for the next section of challenging trails.

 

On the driver’s-side of the PCOR storage system of the Jeep Top Dog Concept, a battery-powered refrigerator and electric hot-dog roller grill stand ready to refuel riders for the next section of challenging trails.

Not just for bikers, but Jeep’s Top Dog will appeal to you if you are

Above the cab area, two rack structures provide additional storage space for tools and equipment. Dual concept exterior task lights are mounted on each side and a set of traction mats for vehicle recovery and extraction are also attached to the storage racks. On top of the rack structure, a dual bike rack provides a safe way to transport the Trek mountain bikes to the trails.

It also features a JPP two-inch lift kit with FOX shocks that provides increased ground clearance, augmented by 17-inch JPP beadlock-capable aluminum wheels and 37-inch BF Goodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires. Concept steel “high-top” fender flares provide additional clearance at all four corners.

Powering the Jeep Top Dog Concept is a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 with 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a eight-speed automatic transmission. On the front end of the Jeep Top Dog Concept is a JPP Rubicon bumper, which holds a concept two-inch steel grille guard, inspired by the Jeep J6 concept and the exclusive JPP 8,000-lb-capacity Rubicon Warn winch that includes 100 feet of Spydura synthetic rope.

The concept hood is accented with custom black Mopar hood latches that feature the Jeep Willys logo. A JPP snorkel helps direct cool air into the engine when off-road conditions threaten normal air inlets. A pair of JPP five-inch, off-road, LED lights installed at the base of the A-pillars help illuminate the trail.

On the passenger-side of the PCOR storage system of the Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept, pull-out drawers securely store tools and supplies that mountain bikers need when out on the trails. Vast interior storage shelves, exterior lighting switches and extra power supplies are within easy reach.

Fortified with Jeep Rubicon details and upgraded Katzkin leather

Body sides are protected by JPP rock rails, customized with welded two-inch steel tubes, similar to the front grille guard design. Black door sill guards feature a raised Gladiator logo and help protect interior sills from scratches and scuffs.

A second JPP Warn winch is installed at the rear of the Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept. Just above the rear-facing winch, a roll-out storage drawer carries a foldable ladder used for access to the dual bike rack.

Inside the cabin, the exterior color theme of K-9 Blue and black is continued with an instrument panel that matches the body color. In addition, black Katzkin leather seats, armrests, shifter boots, steering wheel and the parking brake handle are accented with blue stitching.

Mopar stainless-steel pedal covers with black rubber pads add a bold flare and plenty of traction to the accelerator and brake pedals. Just below the pedals are Mopar all-weather floor mats installed throughout the cabin area.

Are you ready to hit the road with this dressed-to-the-nines Gladiator?

 

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The Cadillac XT6 is the 3-row crossover from Caddy, with all the family friendliness that implies. It’s big, it’s luxurious, and it’s beautifully comfortable. Kristin walks us through the big crossover and talks about its features, it’s good points, a few low points, and her overall impressions of this lux vehicle.

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