Home » The Land Rover Defender Outbound Has One Infuriatingly Stupid Design Detail

The Land Rover Defender Outbound Has One Infuriatingly Stupid Design Detail

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You know how, in life, some things are just stupid? Perhaps there are justifications or reasons that can explain something, even explain it well, but in the end, it’s still just kind of, you know, stupid? I think you must know that, existing here on earth the way you do. Our friends over at Land Rover have gifted upon the world a whole new bit of stupid for all of us to enjoy and revel in: the upper rear side design of the Land Rover Defender 130 Outbound, specifically the windowless rear quarter areas. These, I’m afraid, feel deeply stupid, and I’d like to share why that is with you.

First, I should explain just what the Defender 130 (that’s the longest of the three — 90, 110, 130) Outbound is, because not all of us have the luxury of spending all day on the Land Rover Defender configurator. The Defender Outbound is based on all the features of the Defender 130 X-Dynamic SE, but adds a number of extra features for roughly $5,000 more than the Defender X-Dynamic SE:

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• 20″ Stle 5095 Gloss Black wheels

• Carpet Mats with Cargo space rubber flooring

• Body-colored Exterior Panel

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• Cross vehicle beam in Stain Black Powder Coat finish.

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This is also a five-seater, as it does not offer a third row, instead giving that area over to cargo space. That also may be some of the motivation behind the feature I put in boldface at the top of this article — the one I think is stupid, that Body-colored Exterior Panel. You can see it here, where it stands out better in a lighter color:

Thepanel1

Essentially, that panel replaces the rear quarter window that normally takes up that spot. Hey, is that image faked? It looks like from the inside you can see a rear side window that shouldn’t exist? Huh. Whatever.

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That in itself isn’t necessarily stupid; window-less panels replacing windows is a Known Thing in the automotive world. But it’s how they did it that irks me, because it’s like this:

See that? The plastic panel there is just stuck right on the glass window. There’s something just sort of…maddening about this approach. Like, I understand why you may not want a window back there, but the fact that the window is there, the glass and rubber and adhesives and integrated AM radio aerial, all there in that heavy, relatively expensive glass, and then it’s covered over with a plastic panel, well, that just feels… stupid.

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I mean, most of the time when a rear quarter window like that needs to be eliminated on the cheap, it’s done something like this, usually on small wagon or hatchback van conversions:

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Sometimes you see the indent where the glass would have gone had they wanted a window there, but they didn’t so, no glass. In the case of that HHR you can see where they made a whole modified stamping that didn’t include the window punch-out at all. The others seem to just fill the empty area with sheet metal.

These seem like the right way to go about this kind of change: no waste, no needless weight or cost or installation steps for something whose entire purpose – transparency – will be defeated.

So why did Land Rover choose to do it this way? I asked our own Real Car Designer, Adrian Clarke, and he confirmed my suspicions: it’s cheap and fast. It’s cheaper and quicker than re-designing a panel or even changing the production process to include the option of installing a metal filler panel instead of the glass on the line. Sure, money is being wasted on the window and the installation of the window, but that’s a problem for future Land Rover, not present Land Rover!

Also, he noted the AM radio aerial was integrated into the rear quarter glass, so I guess they’d have to design and incorporate that all-important bit of equipment, too.

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These explanations certainly make sense; I get it. I see why they did it, it all sounds reasonable. I guess. But I just can’t shake the feeling that designing and engineering a window only to cover it up with plastic just feels…wrong, still.

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Even on the other versions of the Defender that has rear quarter window glass, they can’t help but sticking a little opaque panel there, for style reasons, like how we once wore onions on our belts. Maybe they just can’t abide a big, unbroken expanse of glass, and need to obscure it? I don’t know.

[Ed Note: I’d just like to add this:

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That is all. -DT]

What I do know is that if I owned one of these, every time I’d go crawling around on that rubber mat in the rear cargo area and saw that useless glass hanging out senselessly on the sides of my Land Rover, it would irritate the crap out of me.

Am I alone here? Does this bother anyone else, on some vague, conceptual level? Feel free to rant about this, or me, or both in the comments!

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WaxhawFive
WaxhawFive
15 days ago

Aftermarket carbon fiber stick-on panel in 3…2…
No wait, I was being snarky, but there’s is an opportunity here. Aftermarket stick-on cover panels in various plaid patterns. You could even spec it with your family tartan plaid! That could be cool.

Spence
Spence
15 days ago

It’s working man drag for rich dudes with office jobs. Which is the entire rationale for buying 99% of trucks and off road SUVs, so it’s perfectly consistent.

WaxhawFive
WaxhawFive
15 days ago
Reply to  Spence

Well said.

Slirt
Slirt
15 days ago

now I want ONYN BLT for the vanity plate….

John Patson
John Patson
16 days ago

Especially with plastic. Why not with a bit of solid steel? Back in the day we drove a C15D in the UK, and as an extra had the steel “window” fitted with seals removed and glass fitted, as most C15Ds in France had. Just made the vehicle lighter and nicer in every way.
Other alternative would be to leave the glass, with wires so you could fit chintzy curtains. It is British after all.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
16 days ago

Personally, I think the 130 is the best looking of the lot, but I have a history of being pro-window delete. After all, my MR2 had a window-ectomy in favor of carbon fiber and my Scorpion is an early non-buttress car, and I have no intention of changing those out despite the less than great visibility. Is it ideal in a convenience sense or a great idea in case you poke the glass with cargo? No. Do I dig it? Yes.

Rhymes With Bronco
Rhymes With Bronco
16 days ago

I thought the point of doing away with windows was to prevent them from breaking when cargo is loaded or shifts. In this setup, you have poor visibility and the risk of breakage.

DadBod
DadBod
15 days ago

The only cargo going in the back is a case of fine wine and polo boots.

Mike B
Mike B
16 days ago

Honestly, I like the look. However, I agree with the silliness of it if there’s just glass behind it.

I think the rear quarter treatment on the 110 is the worst, I detest that accent panel. It should def be blacked out to blend with the glass.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
16 days ago

What a dumb idea to blank out glass area in the first place unless it gives you something like the ability to put utility racks in place. I hate that kind of thinking. Why would I possibly want less visibility?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
16 days ago

Am I alone here? Does this bother anyone else, on some vague, conceptual level? “

Nope… you’re not alone. I would hate it as well as it causes an unnecessary blind spot.

But the other major flaw this vehicle has… something about the style of this new Defender screams “Douchebag” to me.

I think it’s because while the original Defender was an honest, no-frills offroader, this thing is a pure poser… it’s a luxury vehicle trying to cash in on the honesty of its predecessor.

Oh sure it may have off-road capability. But I just have to look at the nice interior with the nice carpet and the high price tag to know that 99% of the people who buy these will never use them the way the original one was typically used.

And thus, it’s a vehicle for Douchebags pretending they do ‘rough, offroady things’.

Robn
Robn
16 days ago

Where exactly is the nice carpet – let alone any carpet – inside the new Defender again?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
16 days ago
Reply to  Robn

Well here is a picture of a 2023 model and it’s clear there is carpet on the floor
https://www.carexpert.com.au/car-reviews/2023-land-rover-defender-110-v8-review#gallery-12

Robn
Robn
16 days ago

It’s a removable carpeted mat over a vinyl floor, but I do get your point.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
16 days ago

Ha, the plastic panel covering the fully functional window is reminiscient of when they discovered a fully functioning neon light completely hidden behind a wall in a restaurant in Los Angeles where the neon light had apparently been operating continously for some 60 years:
https://www.latimes.com/la-me-old-neon-20120526-story.html

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
16 days ago

That’s incredible.
Thank you!

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
16 days ago

This is perfectly in keeping with Land Rover’s ethos of designing sublimely capable off-road vehicles and then finding interesting ways of fucking them up.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
16 days ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

And then marketing them to people who are VERY unlikely to take them offroad… or at most, they might use them to drive on some gravel or grass.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
16 days ago

This makes me so angry. The amount of anger I feel towards this is grossly disproportionate to how this actually affects me.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
16 days ago

You’re questioning the financial logic and sense of a Land Rover? Are you new here?

PJ
PJ
16 days ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

As I work in parts at a Land Rover dealer and get paid off parts sales, buying a Land Rover is one of the best financial decisions you can make in your life. Please, please, buy a Land Rover. Preferably one that’s fully loaded.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
16 days ago
Reply to  PJ

What’s the list price on one of those panels out of curiosity?

PJ
PJ
16 days ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Looks like its comes with the glass panel attached to it, list price is $783.38

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
16 days ago

So with some Goo Gone and a razorblade, you can have a working window?

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
16 days ago

It’s just so odd in so many ways. Makes it look like some kind of commercial conversion and creates huge(r) blind spots. And I hope the seals around that are super tight, so it doesn’t become a trap for all kinds of grime between the panel and the glass.

Privacy? First of all, there’s still a back window for prying eyes. And I’ve heard some automakers include these little roll-up window-shade thingies that stretch over the cargo area…

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
16 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

The panel allows for the placement of the side ladder and mini storage compartment you see in the video of the black car. You don’t want to put those elements leaning against glass.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
17 days ago

It’s a nod to the window tax, or “light tax” in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
17 days ago

The real question is: Do you need to clean the show dog’s nose prints off the inside glass if nobody will see through it? The Labridoodlesky needs to know if it can leave it’s mark.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
17 days ago

Land Rover have been doing this sort of premium cheapskate manoeuvre for so long that the particular dumbness of this example would have never occurred to them.

Jimmy7
Jimmy7
17 days ago

The panels are there so that your neighbors don’t ask you about your Ford Flex.

Last edited 17 days ago by Jimmy7
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
17 days ago

It would bother me enough to not buy the car. It’s just stupid. Seeing the antenna on this inside would piss me off no end. Just like the panels they stick on other models as part of their ploy to sell accessories to stupid people. In other words, I agree with Jason 100%.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
17 days ago

This is what happens when JLR doesn’t have Adrian around to un-£*<k thing that never should have been £*<ked in the first place.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
16 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

It’s a good thing that that Adrian never had to design such a thing or he might still be rocking back and forth in a corner somewhere, muttering to himself, rather than sharing his inspired musings with us.

Last edited 16 days ago by Highland Green Miata
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