Land Rover has confirmed that it intends to bring the next-generation version of its iconic Defender off-roader to the United States.
The current Defender was pulled from the U.S. market in 1996 after Land Rover decided it would be too costly to add airbags to bring the truck up to safety standards. However, the new model will be engineered from the start to comply with American emissions and safety laws, Jaguar Land Rover North America CEO Andy Goss told The Car Connection on the sidelines of the Paris Motor Show.
Although Goss didn’t confirm when the new Defender will launch, industry rumors suggest that it might not debut until 2017. While it will undoubtedly feature more modern conveniences than the bare-bones current model, expect the next-gen Defender to still be an extremely capable off-roader thanks to its use of a version of the LR4/Range Rover Sport’s rugged platform. The truck's styling will likely be influenced by the DC100 concept that was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt show.
The decision to offer the Defender in the U.S. comes as JLR moves to strengthen the bottom end of its Land Rover lineup in North America. At present, Range Rover-badged models account for the lion’s share of Land Rover sales, but the automaker hopes that the Defender and a new LR4 will help bolster its “entry-level” range.