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Land Rover hints that a pickup will again be part of the Defender family

It’s a body style customers are asking for

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.

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Toyota introduces Tacoma TRD lift kit

It will fit most 2020-plus Tacoma V6 4x4s

Toyota announced Wednesday that it will begin selling a factory TRD-branded lift kit for its midsize Tacoma pickup. This new kit is not only TRD-approved and backed by a factory warranty, but it is fully compatible with the new Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) tech that has been offered on the Tacoma since the 2020 model year.

The Bilstein-based kit is compatible with all V6 four-wheel-drive models apart from the long-bed crew cab variant and the TRD Pro (which shouldn’t need one to begin with). Toyota says it’s good for a two-inch lift up front and about an inch in the rear. The kit also comes with a TRD-style grille replacement, which is more than just an aesthetic upgrade.

“The kit includes a new [TSS] system millimeter-wave sensor (and new camera support bracket) that is designed to precisely fit within the grille to retain the functionality of the TSS system once the kit is installed,” Toyota says. “This is the only lift kit validated to be completely TSS-compatible. Also included are two matching black bezels that fill in the deleted fog lamps and complement the TRD Pro-style grille.”

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Rivian CEO shows off R1T electric pickup climbing hills in Arizona

Getting the right tires for the truck was a particular challenge

Rivian boss RJ Scaringe shared a few videos of the company’s upcoming R1T electric pickup testing off-road in the hills of Arizona as the EV startup inches closer to its 2021 on-sale date. The videos show the R1T tackling some steep, loose grades and slippery terrain.

The most jarring thing about the clips, perhaps, is just how quiet they are. Now, these trucks aren’t exactly tackling the Rubicon, but climbing hills covered in loose stone is still a messy affair. It’s just not every day that the only thing you hear in such a clip is the sound of stone crunching under tires. Without the grunt of a gasoline engine at the center of the experience, it all seems oddly peaceful.

The R1T prototype is fitted with a set of Pirelli Scorpion A/Ts engineered specifically for Rivian. As The Drive points out, they aren’t nearly as aggressive-looking as the tires fitted to some of today’s high-performance pickups, but they’re clearly getting the job done here. Why not take something off-the-shelf? Well, it’s an EV after all, and as critical as performance might be off the road, having all the knobs in the world won’t help you preserve your electric range. In fact, it tends to do the opposite. The solution?

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