New Land Rover Defender confirmed for early next decade

Confirming earlier rumors, Land Rover managing director Phil Popham has revealed that the iconic off-road brand is readying a replacement for its venerable Defender model. The Land Rover Defender has soldiered on relative unchanged for the past 61 years.

Although the Defender is still as surefooted as a mountain goat, Popham says the redesign is necessary to comply with modern safety and emissions regulations. Land Rover was forced to stop selling the Defender in the United States after 1997 due to a lack of mandatory air bags.

However, keeping in line with the Defender nameplate, the next-generation of the rugged "˜ute will be even more capable than today's rig. "We'll be really tuning up the versatility side and practicality side," Popham told Australi's GoAuto News. The next Defender is expected to ride on the same platform that underpins the Range Rover Sport and LR4.

It remains to be seen if the next-generation Defender - slated to launch in 2012 or 2013 - will be available in the United States, but Land Rover hasn't completely ruled out the possibility. If the Defender does make it to the U.S., expect to see Land Rover's new 5.0L V8 under the hood while other global markets will receive a 2.7L diesel.