Land Rover wants to turn the Defender into a full family of off-roaders, and it signaled that the lineup could once again grow to include a pickup. It said that it has the demand, the heritage, and the technical ability to build a truck.
Nick Collins, executive director of vehicle programs for Jaguar-Land Rover, told British magazine Autocar to "watch this space" when asked about the possibility of seeing another Defender-based pickup. While that's hardly an unwavering confirmation, it's certainly not a flat-out denial. He went a step further by pointing out that, although the Defender switched to unibody construction for its second generation, "there are no structural limitations" that prevent the company from giving it a cargo box. "You can make a pickup from a monocoque," he pointed out.
Honda's Ridgeline has used unibody construction since it made its debut for the 2006 model year, while Ford and Hyundai will both release unibody pickups in the coming years. None of these models are as rugged as, say, a Ford F-350, but they're capable enough to meet the hauling, towing, and off-roading needs of the average motorist.
That the Defender can be turned into a pickup with relative ease is a moot point if no one buys it; Honda can likely alchemize the Civic into one, too, but there's no guarantee that anyone will want to drive it to Home Depot. Collins clarified that there is enough demand from customers to justify developing the model in the not-too-distant future, so it sounds like the truck ticks both the feasibility and the desirability boxes. The next logical step is production.
Details about the Defender truck are few and far between, but Autocar believes it will land as a four-door-only model with either a gasoline- or a diesel-burning engine under the hood — in global markets, at least. Four-wheel-drive will come standard, and we're betting the pickup will be marketed as more of a lifestyle-oriented model than one aimed at your local utility company. Design-wise, it will surely look like what you're picturing: a Defender with a cargo box.
If the truck receives the proverbial green light for production, it could make its debut in the next year or so. We're betting it will be sold in the United States, which is the largest pickup market on the planet. Australians will likely scoop up a decent-sized chunk of the production volume, and a small handful will remain in Europe.
Land Rover offered the last-generation Defender as a pickup (pictured) in numerous global markets. It was offered with two or four doors and with a long or a short box, depending on the year and on the country, and it played a starring role in the 2015 James Bond movie "Spectre." Some were transformed into campers, ambulances, tow trucks, dump trucks, and fire-fighting vehicles, too.