An Exhaustive Look at Cars
Back on February 1, among other things, I was riding in a 2019 Nissan Leaf as part of a ride and drive at the Washington Auto Show. My mom was in the driver's seat and I was riding shotgun, having a perfect view of everything happening. The employee running the ride and drive showed us the numerous parking cameras, allowing us to see the curb, below the curve of our hood, and in the back. After working the Leaf's gear selector, based largely on alien technology, we pulled away from the curb and put the Leaf through some basic steps around DC. The Leaf began making a kind of beeping while we were moving slowly. The guide explained that this noise was actually meant to warn pedestrians as total silence could pose hazardous to those of us not in large metal cans. As we accelerated up to the speed limit, it was strange to not have the lurching of the gears shifting or the rumble of the engine.
The Leaf needed a significant amount of pressure on the pedal in order to coast or hold steady, meaning it is more difficult to accelerate and cruise than it usually is. While I can see the utility of one pedal driving for someone who sits in stop-and-go traffic who has gotten used to the system. When it was finally time to return, the Leaf delivered pleasing parking dynamics as a result of its good turn radius and a small size. We then got out and returned to the ride and drive sign-up area, where we did a sort of debrief. I made sure to cop a Nissan Leaf brochure and cap before returning to the heart of the show.
The Wrangler is one of those cars that everyone will recognize, no matter how unsavvy they are about cars. Loads of people buy them, about 240,000 of them in 2018, and while many of them don't off-road, there are plenty who do. The whole market segment of a capable SUV has been dominated by Jeep, with the aging 4Runner, pricey Land Cruiser, and prohibitively expensive G550 being left in the dust. Enter 2020 and we have the Land Rover Defender ready to enter the ring. The Defender's price range overlaps with the Wrangler with the base model at just under $50,000, however can quickly be configured to cost in excess of $100,000.
The Defender sets itself apart from the Wrangler by being an overlander at its core. The Defender is a pure lifestyle vehicle with the aim of making you feel like an explorer. As such, the Defender comes with an Explorer pack. The Explorer pack includes plenty of overlanding gear such as a roof rack, a side-mounted storage box, and a 'raised air intake', which only helps with dust and doesn't increase wading depth beyond the standard 34.5 inches (the Wrangler can only do 30). You can also get the Defender with an air compressor for inflating tires and a hose for washing things down. Yes, you heard correctly, this car comes with a legitimate hose. The hose is connected to an on-board tank that Land Rover says can give a minimum of two minutes of continuous flow, without using batteries. The system uses pressure and can be pressurized using the tap or manually with a hand pump. The Defender seals the overlanding deal with a deployable roof ladder, which folds down and allows easy access to the roof rack.
With all of this gear, the Defender is shaping up to be an incredible vehicle. The Defender comes with so many options for equipment, allowing users to customize the vehicle based on what they want to do with it. You can rock crawl, you can go mudding, you can get the optional I-6 that makes 395 hp and go dune bashing, or you can get the Explorer pack plus a few other functional accessories and spend days overlanding in rough environments. That is what I think the 2020 Defender was made to do.
I am a high-school student who enjoys almost anything mechanical; cars, robotics, drones, etc. I also enjoy plain driving, vehicle dynamics, and off-road trips.