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With success and plenty of awards being flung at the company’s compact luxury SUV, the Ranger Rover Evoque, volume sales seem more reasonable for the British brand than they might a few years ago.
Still, the new Defender will have a steep hill to climb if it is to overcome the mighty Toyota Hilux, which recently became the first vehicle to conquer the Magnetic North Pole.
Perhaps spurred on by popular sales figures for the Evoque, Land Rover boss John Edwards said he hopes the company will grow into a global brand instead of a brand being sold globally. That statement might seem a little bold in the face of only 20,000 defenders selling next to the 549,000 Hilux units sold in 2011.
Part of doing that will be offering more than one popular seller, which the Defender might be — if the company can settle on a design. The Defender DC100 concept got its North American debut last week in New York, but it’s still not clear if that model will make it to production.
Land Rover will also have its reputation for dubious reliability to contend with, especially if it hopes to challenge Toyota, a brand built on its dependability image, despite recent controversy.
In 2007, Top Gear aired the “Polar Special”, documenting Jeremy Clarkson and James May’s Toyota Hilux racing against Richard Hammond and a team of sled dogs.
Amid the childish antics of the three television presenters lay a landmark achievement — this was the first time any expedition had ever reached the Magnetic North Pole in an automobile.
Touted as one of the most indestructible trucks in the world, the Toyota Hilux continues to push the boundaries of extreme endurance further still, having tackled a 5,900 mile journey into Antarctica, a distance that is further than any vehicle of its type has managed ever before. Organized by Extreme World Races, the journey took four months, from November 2011 to this February.
Enduring temperatures dropping as low as -58° Fahrenheit and climbing wild terrain rising to elevations above 11,000 feet, the expedition called for thorough vehicle preparation for safety and success. In total, Extreme World Races outfitted three Hilux trucks for the event, including a “6×6″ models.
Modifications to the trucks included a heavy-duty crane to lift equipment, suspension and drivetrain strengthening, extra-large tires inflated to 2.0 to 3.o psi, which provided the arctic explorers with a footprint 17 times larger than those of standard tires and a 74-gallon fuel tank carrying jet fuel to best cope with the unforgiving cold. In the case of the 6×6, an even larger 211-gallon fuel reservoir was fitted instead. Surprisingly, the Toyota trucks retained the standard 3.0-liter D-4D engines without modifications. Other than a crawler gear, the transmission was left untouched as well.
Upholding its reputation for toughness, the three Toyotas completed the entire journey without a single technical hiccup. This latest feat, the longest expedition in polar history, now recognizes the mighty Hilux for its achievement in reaching both the Magnetic North and South Poles.
GALLERY: Toyota Hilux Antarctic Journey
The kid confused the gas pedal for the brake in his Toyota Hilux pickup truck and careened into his mother, who was sitting in front of the motor vehicle registry. The mother was pinned against the wall and thankfully survived after being rushed to the hospital, albeit with severe leg injuries.
It’s not known whether the driving examiner was also injured, but he won’t be passing the 17-year old.