LAND ROVER Defender 90 Models/Series Timeline, Specifications & Photos

Generations: 5
First production year: 1991
Engines: Diesel, Gasoline
Body style: SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle)
LAND ROVER Defender 90 photo gallery

Land Rover brought one of its most iconic models, the Defender, into a new era when it introduced its second generation, and it built it in three versions that sported the traditional 90, 110, and 130 labels.

The Defender 90 was the shortest of them all, and it draws back its moniker from the old Series II Land Rover. That model featured just two doors at the front and one entry (side-hinged) in the back and could take as many people on board as they could stuff inside that cramped cabin. Over the years, the Series II became the Defender in the late '80s and was allowed to carry just five people on face-forward seats. That car became an icon and was cherished and loved by many despite its many design flaws. With the second, entirely new generation of the Defender, Land Rover moved this model on a higher level of comfort and quality, but without forgetting its agricultural roots.

The car's exterior resembles the old D100 concept car that was unveiled by the British automaker in 2011. In 2019, the production version of that prototype came alive and had the Defender nameplate attached to it. The front fascia featured a pair of headlights adorned by circular LEDs that headlamps installed on its predecessor. Still, the plastic bumper and grille were nothing like those from the previous model. But it looked bold. In addition, the flared wheel arches and the overall look were unmistakably inspired by the Series II and III. The 2019 Defender 90 featured two doors and a short wheelbase, just like its ancestors. The flat, vertical cut at the rear with the externally mounted spare wheel was also charismatic for this model. At the back, the taillights sported a rectangular shape.

Inside, it was a modern vehicle fitted with all the features and amenities of an upscale off-roader. There was a digital instrument cluster instead of analog dials and a landscape-oriented touchscreen for the infotainment system on top of the center. Between the comfortable front seats, Land Rover installed a tall center console that housed a few storage areas and an armrest. The gear selector for the automatic transmission found its place closer to the dashboard, like in the old days. Bonus points: It was easier to use. In the back, the carmaker installed a flat-folding bench seat that could accommodate up to three occupants, although the legroom was minimal.

But the Defender's real value was under its skin. Land Rover installed a choice of diesel and gasoline engines ranging between 200 PS (197 HP) and 525 PS (518 HP) paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Power went in all corners via a two-speed transfer box. To better cope with off-road situations, the automaker offered an air suspension for the Defender.

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LAND ROVER Defender 90 Works V8 photo gallery

That was the swan song for the old-school Defender. A car that was axed from the production line in 2016 and, two years later, it was rebuilt in another 150 units by the factory. It was the Defender Works V8.

The Defender was one of the most iconic off-road vehicles in the world. It was developed after WWII to work the land and to be driven everywhere. In 1948, it was named Land Rover Series I and it changed its name in Defender in 1990. It was the British Willy's if you want. But even if it didn't go to too many wars, it was there when peace was signed. After 67 years of production and over two million units sold, the Defender was retired. It didn't comply with the new safety regulations. But the R&D team started to work on surprising revenge since 2014 when they built the first prototype of the Defender Works V8.

For starters, the engineers took an already built Defender, stripped it down, and installed new technologies in it. For the exterior, they installed 18” light-alloy wheels with a special design and taller, off-road tires. The spare-wheel was kept in the back, outside the car, on the rear door. On the front, a new pair of headlights were added for better light on the road.

Inside, the 70th Anniversary model featured Recaro sport-bucket seats for the front passengers. The rear, side-hinged benches were kept just in case someone would need to stay there. On the center stack, there was a new infotainment unit, with navigation and a better sound system.

The technical department was improved with the implant of a 5.0-liter V8 gasoline unit taken from Jaguar. The 8-speed automatic transmission sent its power to all four wheels. All the 150 units were re-worked Defender.

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LAND ROVER Defender 90 photo gallery

Land Rover introduced the last update for the Defender lineup in 2012, before completely retiring it in 2106 when the car couldn't pass the Euro6 standards anymore.

Born out of necessities in the late '40s, the Land Rover was a utility/family transportation vehicle that was constantly updated on the years to come several times. After it was named Series I, II, and III, the vehicle sported the name 90/110, according to the version's wheelbase. Come 1990, and the car got a new name: Defender. That version was constantly upgraded.

For the 2012 model year, the Defender got a slightly restyled front fascia, with black trims around the headlights. The slatted grille was the same and still made from plastic. The bumper, though, was still from solid metal. But the rearview mirrors were still black and only manually adjustable by rocking them from the outside.

Inside, the 2012 Defender couldn't be too much upgraded. As an option, it featured sort of an infotainment system, with a screen bolted atop the center stack. An AC unit blew cold air only through the mid-vents. In the instrument cluster, the old dials sported silver surroundings and green illumination.

The most important upgrade was under the hood, where the Defender 90 got a 2.2-liter, Ford sourced turbodiesel. It was an evolution of the powerplant installed in the Ford Transit utility vehicle, upgraded to Euro 5 emission standards. The only transmission available was a six-speed manual and a two-speed transfer case that sent the power in all corners.

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LAND ROVER Defender 90 photo gallery

Land Rover updated its rugged off-road contender Defender in 2007, improving the powerplants and the car's electronic systems.

Its history began in 1948, and the Defender was, basically, the foundation for the Land Rover brand. But what started as a temporary rugged vehicle became a status car. In 2007, Ford already owned Land Rover and tried improving the car with some of its components to cut the costs.

The car's overall look was still like a box on wheels with two headlights attached to the front fascia. Its flat nose and short overhang allowed the Defender 90 to achieve outstanding approach angles compared to other off-road vehicles. Its grille was slightly pushed outward to make room for the thicker radiator behind it. As for the bumper, it was still metallic with some rubber endings. On the sides, the door handles were built so the driver could use them with gloves on. At the back, the Defender featured a side-hinged door that supported the spare wheel.

Inside, it was the same cramped and unforgiving driving seat close to the door. The new modular dashboard allowed the carmaker to adopt the left or right-hand drive production quickly. Between the front seats, the carmaker added an option for a big storage compartment with a lid and the transmission levers: one for the gearbox and the other for the transfer case. In the back, there was little room for two adults.

Under the hood, Ford installed a new 2.4-liter engine carried over and re-tuned from Ford Transit light commercial vehicle. A six-speed manual was the only option. The only drawback for the 2007 Defender was the lack of a rear differential lock system. Ford engineers thought that an electronic, ESP-based system could do the same thing.

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LAND ROVER Defender 90 photo gallery

Land Rover started to give a name to its cars, so the former Series III became the Defender in 1990.

The Defender is one of the most iconic vehicles on Earth, and its first step into this world happened in 1948 when it was named Land Rover Series I. Come 1990, the British carmaker was already producing the Series III in three sizes named 90, 110, and 130, according to the vehicle's wheelbase. Thus, when it changed the nameplate, it resulted in the Defender 90, 110, and 130, respectively.

With its squared-body look and short wheelbase, the Defender 90 was clearly made more as a hard-working vehicle than a luxurious one. With its round headlights, flat front fascia, and a tiny overhang, the Defender 90 looked ready to conquer remote places on Earth. From its sides, the box-on-a-box shape featured flat panels and a slightly tilted windshield. Behind the doors, on the sides, the rear windows featured a slide-open system to ventilate the cabin. At the back, a flat vertical drop was typical for the Defender, and the side-hinged door was the only option. Unusually for an SUV, the door was flanked by two smaller windows mounted up on the rear body panel.

Inside, the flat dashboard featured a separate panel for the instruments mounted in front of the steering wheel. The front high-mounted seats offered no side support or bolstering areas, and the tall transmission tunnel separated them. In the back, Land Rover offered either side-mounted, inward-facing benches for four people or a regular bench fit for three.

Under the hood, Land Rover offered a choice of three engines: a Rover-sourced 3.5-liter V8 or a 2.5-liter turbo-diesel that provided either 112 HP or 121 HP (112 PS or 122 PS). It was mated as standard to a five-speed manual and a two-speed transfer case.

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