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Land Rover Defender being tested for 2019 launch; Subaru Canada earns top safety citations in eight categories

Written by Norris McDonald

Two automakers are in the news this week as we head toward 2019 – Jaguar Land Rover, which is testing its next-generation Land Rover Defender in preparation for a 2019 launch and a 2020 sales campaign in Canada and the United States, and Subaru Canada, for earning a string of high marks for safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

According to a Jaguar Land Rover release, testing of the new Defender is under way around the world and the first camouflaged development mules and prototypes arrived in North America in early December.

North American testing provides valuable data for engineers, the company says, given the wide variety of terrain and surfaces available. The Defender will be subjected to rigorous test extremes to make sure it is the most off-road-capable Land Rover vehicle ever – operating in temperatures from -40F to +120F while being driven on- and off-road at altitudes of more than 13,000 feet above sea level.

“There are a handful of automobiles that are beloved around the world and stand for a brand, a country and a distinct way of life,” said Kim McCullough, Vice President of Marketing for Jaguar Land Rover North America. “The Land Rover Defender is such a singular vehicle.”

VIDEO: The Land Rover Defender in action

With an all-new exterior and interior design, as well as a suite of the latest driver assistance and connectivity features available, the next-generation Defender will be a revolutionary product for Land Rover.

It will be introduced in 2019 with selling starting in 2020. Once in showrooms, the new Defender will represent 70 years of innovation and improvement in just one model year.

Meantime, Subaru Canada Inc. announced that eight of its vehicles earned high marks once again from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including seven Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) designations for 2019.

According to a release, the 2019 Impreza (sedan and 5-door), Legacy, Crosstrek, Outback, Ascent and WRX models each earned TSP+ awards from the IIHS when equipped with EyeSight driver assist technology and LED steering-responsive headlights.

In addition, the 2019 Forester (left) received the Top Safety Pick (TSP) award when equipped with EyeSight, extending the popular SUV’s win streak to 13 years, making it the longest-standing winner in its segment.

Also extending win streaks in their respective segments are the 2019 Impreza, Crosstrek and Outback. Impreza earned the TSP+ award to become an award-winner for 12 consecutive years (2008-2019), while Outback became a TSP+ winner for the seventh straight year (2013-2019). Crosstrek, meanwhile, claimed its eighth consecutive victory for the TSP award (2012-2019), amounting to each year it has been on the market.

Also earning the TSP+ designation was the Subaru WRX sports sedan, as well as the all-new Ascent three-row SUV. (For a story on Ascent safety testing, please click here). Making its presence felt in more ways than one, the largest Subaru ever built earned the TSP+ rating in its first model year on the market thanks in part to its standard EyeSight driver assist system and when equipped with specific headlights.

First introduced in Canada on select 2013 model-year vehicles, Subaru EyeSight driver assist technology reduces the rate of rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85 per cent and pedestrian-related injuries by up to 35 per cent.

“As our brand continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of customers, our commitment to safety is second to none,” said SCI chairman, president and CEO Yasushi Enami. “From long-standing Subaru models — and long-time Top Safety Pick award-winners — like the Legacy and Forester to new additions such as the all-new Ascent, we continue to prioritize the safety of not just Subaru drivers, but all road users.”