Land Rover is reportedly debating whether to move the Defender nameplate even further away from its roots by putting it on an SUV that's bigger and more luxurious than the current truck. If approved, the full-size Defender could share its platform and some mechanical components with the next Range Rover tentatively due out in 2022.
Without citing sources, British magazine Autocar reported that the yet-unnamed model will slot above the longer, eight-seater Defender 130 that our spies spotted testing earlier in 2021. While it's reasonable to assume that a family resemblance will run through the Defender line, much like several styling cues link the Range Rover Evoque to the full-size Range Rover, the similarities will only be skin-deep because the rumored upmarket model will allegedly ride on a version of the MLA platform that the fifth-generation Range Rover will inaugurate when it goes on sale.
Using the MLA platform will allow designers to make the range-topping Defender bigger while incorporating a high degree of electrification in markets that demand it. MLA was designed with mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric applications in mind. Several changes made to the cabin will set the Defender and the Range Rover apart; Autocar notably points to "metallic trims, naturally-weathered materials, and new types of wood finishes" as possibilities.
Some earlier reports claimed that the Defender family would also include a smaller, more road-focused crossover positioned well below the current model; Think of it as kind of a born-again Freelander/LR2. The same story claims that this model has been canned. However, the on-again, off-again pickup version is reportedly still in the works.
The Range Rover-derived Defender might not arrive in showrooms until early 2025, still according to the magazine. Land Rover hasn't commented on the report, and it hasn't revealed how, or whether, it will expand the Defender range yet.