Get your off-road adventure vehicle for a fraction of the price.
After one of the most hotly anticipated build-ups ever for an SUV, the 2020 Land Rover Defender has finally been revealed and for the first time in 25 years will be available in the United States. It arrives with three- or five-door body styles, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or hybridized inline-six, a throwback design, and incredible off-road performance.
Land Rover says the base P300 model with 296 horsepower on tap will start at $49,900, while the 395-hp P400 model starts at $62,250. A plug-in hybrid model will also be available at a later time. This is a huge reveal for Land Rover and a great addition to the market for fans of luxury off-roaders but if you simply can't afford the nearly $50,000 starting price of the new Defender, we've come up with six cheaper alternatives on the used market.
The rugged design and relative simplicity of the base Defender might be appealing to some but if you want your off-roader to have a bit more luxury, why not just get a used Range Rover? After all, the Range Rover is still Land Rover's flagship and you can now score a used current-generation model for under $50,000 with less than 30,000 miles on the odometer.
Most of the Range Rovers in this price range have the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 but we found several with the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 and the diesel V6. Finding one with a certified pre-owned warranty is a must given Land Rover's record for reliability but luckily, there are plenty of CPO examples at the price range. The Range Rover will certainly be more comfortable and luxurious than the new Defender with just as much off-road credibility.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class might be the Defender's closest rival but even the base 2019 G550 model starts at a whopping $124,500. Fortunately, there are plenty of previous-generation G550, G500, G55 AMG, and even G63 AMG examples available on the used market. This price range is too low to find a CPO example but the G-Class is known for being one of the most well-built Mercedes cars.
Perhaps you aren't into all of that luxury stuff, which why we refer you to the first new option on our list - the Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler starts at just $28,295 and, obviously, used examples are available for much less. If you opt for the top four-door Moab trim level, the price jumps up to $51,300, which is actually more than the base Defender. This is certainly worth noting if you are in the market for a well-optioned Wrangler because there will now be a brand-new Land Rover (albeit a base one) in the same price range.
Like the Wrangler, the Toyota 4Runner is an SUV you can still buy brand-new for less than the price of new Defender. The 2019 4Runner starts at $35,310 for the base SR5 trim but the off-road-oriented TRD-Pro model creeps close to base Defender territory at $46,815. As with the Wrangler, it will be interesting to see if Land Rover can steal customers who are shopping for a well-optioned 4Runner.
Much of the new Defender's appeal is its retro styling that harkens back to the original model. But if all you want is nostalgia, the Toyota FJ Cruiser does it much better. The FJ was sold in the US from 2007 to 2014 with just one engine, a 1GR-FE 4.0-liter V6 producing between 239 and 260 horsepower mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic with rear- or all-wheel-drive.
In the years since Toyota discontinued the FJ Cruiser, it has become somewhat collectible with pristine examples commanding nearly $50,000. It is still possible to find high-mileage examples under $10,000 and mid-mileage examples for less than $20,000.
The Lexus LX 570 is easily the best alternative to the new Defender. It misses on the nostalgic looks but unlike the Land Rover, the Lexus will likely be conquering off-road terrain until the end of time. Most Lexus cars boast stellar reliability but the LX exists on a different playing field. You can now score a current-generation LX 570 (before it was hit with the ugly stick in 2016) starting at less than $20,000. Don't be scared off by high-mileage or a lack of warranty because the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles money can buy.