With an all-new Range Rover about six months from its UK on-sale date next March, Britain’s Land Rover has announced a host of detail changes to its Defender and Freelander SUV ranges for the 2002 model year.

The Defender, whose basic design dates back to 1948, now has remote controlled central door locking and simplified keying (multiple keys have long been an owner gripe), electric front windows and a new rear door.

The Defender 90 County Station Wagon bulkhead has been deleted to improve cabin space and provide more front seat recline.

The Defender facia, a design going back to the 1970s, has been revised to include a new centre console with new switches.

Other revisions include improved heater and wiper systems and an optional cold climate pack with heated front seats and heated windscreen.

The new Station Wagon rear door is made from zinc plated steel with both the inner pressing and outer panel being one-piece for improved consistency, corrosion protection and sealing. The rear window is retained by a continuous seal and a central, high mounted stop lamp is fitted.

Chassis improvements include new Panhard rods with larger bushes and upgraded rod support brackets. The rear brakes on 110 and 130 models have been improved with new brake calipers and thicker friction material. For certain markets with severe environmental conditions new, aerodynamic deflectors can be fitted to improve protection of the rear brakes when driving on unsealed roads.

The Defender 110 Double Cab is the latest derivative of the Defender range. Designed to tackle a fast growing sector of the utility market, the Double Cab has a payload of over 1000 kg as well as carrying up to 6 passengers.

A ‘County’ derivative features body coloured wheelarch ‘eyebrows’, tinted glass, ‘Techno’ cloth trim and a radio/cassette player. Side and rear steps and front and rear mudflaps are also included.

The Freelander, first launched in 1997, received major changes in 2000 including a new diesel engine, petrol V6 and five-speed automatic gearbox option.

The US and Japanese introduction of the V6 as a 2002 model will coincide with interior trim revisions and exterior styling updates.

All exterior mouldings change from grey to black, the rear indicator lamp lenses now have a clear/smoke effect and there’s a new range of alloy wheels.

Black is now a third trim colour in cloth, leather or Alcantara and leather. The centre console and instrument binnacle are also now black to reduce windscreen reflections – important, Land Rover says, in the Freelander’s sunny new markets.

Other detail interior changes included recoloured air vents, and a new premium sports seat design.

The new front and rear cup holders essential in the US market will be offered as options world-wide– the front one is integrated into the facia and the rear built in to the centre arm rest. Land Rover proudly says that each holds two cups and both are capable of taking containers of any size – including ‘gulp’ cups.

The base in car entertainment package is now a CD-compatible head unit with six speakers and a premium head unit with single CD is added to the range. A new top-of-the-range Harman/Kardon system features the premium head unit, steering-wheel mounted remote controls, nine-speaker sound system including sub-woofer and additional power amplifier. A dealer-fit CD autochanger is optional.

Land Rover has also added an optional Becker satellite navigation system for the Freelander packaged in a DIN sized head unit with dual mode CD player that can read navigation and audio CDs.

Sat-nav is a factory-fit item available for all territories with software coverage including North America and Western Europe.

The latest Freelanders also have new dials with white graphics on a black background and a new microprocessor instrument pack control.

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Automotive regional report: North America (download)

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