While the new Land Rover Defender isn’t a body-on-frame SUV, it’s still more than capable when the pavement runs out. But the new Defender’s goal isn’t just to equal the original’s off-road prowess. It’s meant to be more refined and comfortable on a daily basis; good for something besides just off-roading. This is seemingly why Land Rover is now offering a Defender panel van.
Land Rover Defender panel van details
Originally, the Land Rover Defender came in both hard-top and soft-top versions. The former was more popular amongst workers because it was easier for them to secure their tools. As a nod to that, the commercial panel van version of the Defender is called the Hard Top, Road & Track reports.
Going with the panel van Defender does mean losing the 2nd– and 3rd-row seats, Motor1 reports. And instead of alloy wheels, it gets steel ones. However, with an optional center-mounted jump seat, the Hard Top can seat up to 3 people. The extra room is given over to a hard-wearing cargo area and added storage spaces.
However, while the Land Rover Defender Hard Top doesn’t have many seats, it does have most of the Defender lineup’s other features. This includes the Defender’s infotainment system, Autoblog reports, which comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and over-the-air updates. Four-wheel drive is also standard, as is Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which includes multiple driving modes. In addition, the Hard Top panel van comes with a 360° camera.
And the Defender Hard Top is no less capable than the standard model. It can wade into water 35” deep, has 11.5” of ground clearance, and can tow up to 7716 pounds. The panel van can also be equipped with an optional tow package that adds additional towing assistance features. Plus, while the Hard Top is available in 2-door 90 and 4-door 110 trims, the 110 can be further upgraded with adaptive air suspension.
Pricing, availability, and the competition
Land Rover Defender Hard Top deliveries are expected to start later this year. The panel van is expected to start for about $44,300.
However, as of this writing, Land Rover hasn’t confirmed the Defender Hard Top for the US market. It’s likely the panel van won’t be available here, due to the perception of Land Rover as a luxury brand. US commercial customers typically use pickup trucks or cargo vans anyway. Also, as some have pointed out, the Defender Hard Top’s relatively-high cargo floor can make loading awkward.
Plus, for roughly the same price, US customers do have other commercial vehicle options. For example, the hybrid 2021 Ford F-150 can reportedly tow up to 12,000 pounds. And that’s just one of its many useful work-related features.
And for those who need cargo space, not maximum towing capacity, there’s the Ford Transit. Although the US isn’t getting the Trail trim, Ford’s cargo van is available with diesel and gasoline engines, as well as AWD. And some trims can over 4000 pounds of payload.
The Defender’s rooftop tent
However, there is one additional Land Rover Defender option US customers can get. That’s the Autohome rooftop tent. It’s only available for the 4-door 110, Motor1 reports, and only when equipped with the optional roof rack and rails, Autoblog reports.
But for $3850, you get a folding tent that includes a full-size 2-person mattress, LED lights, a rear canopy, and a storage net. Plus, it has a built-in aluminum ladder that folds away when not in use, Business Insider reports.
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