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A gray 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 is shown parked on a cement floor.

Land Rover: What Makes An Icon?

Why is the Land Rover considered a status symbol both in the SUV world and in pop culture? Don’t get us wrong, it’s a beautiful-looking vehicle. But the SUV market is enormous, and it seems like there is plenty to choose from when it comes to off-roading or luxurious vehicles. So what is it about the Land Rover brand that makes it one of the elite?

And speaking of elite, does that mean you have to have a certain amount of wealth and privilege to own such a prestige brand? If you’re looking to treat yourself and get behind the wheel of an icon, you might be curious about the Land Rover brand and what it says about drivers who choose to own one. Is it snobby? Or Posh? Or is it just being practical?

Trends move so quickly these days that you might feel left in the dust. If you’re going to invest time and money in a new upscale vehicle, you want to get it right. So what is going on with Land Rover, and how has it managed to maintain its high status as one of the most luxurious brands in a world overflowing with so-called luxurious brands?

The Land Rover Story

Do you see that Cadillac over there? That Tesla? These luxury brands might not be where they are today if not for Land Rover. The Land Rover brand helped create the idea of what a luxury car could be. It seemed to pave the way for upscale, capable vehicles that look good downtown in or out in the sticks.

The Land Rover came to American shores via Britain. The boxy off-roader was made to be a capable vehicle built for work or adventure. With the end of World War II, the late 1940s ushered in a time of change and innovation. Maurice Wilks, responsible for the first Land Rover sketches, set out his brother, the managing director of Rover, to create something new from the rubble of war.

The first Land Rover 1 was basic; its body was made from widely available sheet aluminum set on a Jeep chassis. It used Rover’s original four-speed gearbox combined with a 1.6L engine. Equipped with four-wheel drive, the first Land Rover had utility more than luxury in mind. The robust nature of the first Land Rover made it remarkably popular, with sales exceeding expectations. The coming years would see updates to the design, with Series II being introduced in 1958. The Queen even made a Land Rover her go-to all-terrain vehicle in 1953. Decades later, Land Rover would lead the way at the Queen’s Jubilee for all to see.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the iconic Defender nameplate was introduced. This was a smart move because the SUV market was beginning to take off, and competition was fierce. Land Rover needed to make a splash, and the Defender managed to do just that in 1993, marking its 1.5 millionth vehicle sold since the brand was introduced in 1948.

Since the 1990s, Land Rover has expanded its line-up yet continues to offer vehicles that blur the line between luxury and capability. This makes Land Rover popular with those looking for a refined off-roader capable of great things. Its timeless style means young, old, and everywhere in between, drivers love Land Rover.

A Shade of Green

Naturally, the beauty and performance of a Land Rover model can leave other cars green with envy. But green is not a hue that is unfamiliar to Land Rover. Its first models started a pale shade of green thanks to the available aluminum left over from the War. While Land Rover gradually grew out of its green stage with more color choices, it never forgot its roots. In 1986, Land Rover debuted the green oval logo that is so iconic today. Over the decades, Land Rover has offered its vehicles in various shades, from avocado to emerald, but the most known has to be its British Racing Green, the shade of its iconic logo.

The Ultimate Status Symbol

So how exactly did the modest Land Rover, known for its green boxy vehicles built for tough work, make its way to become the iconic symbol of wealth and status that it is today? The SUV and crossover market is always rapidly growing, and nearly every brand offers a luxurious or upscale model with plenty of creature comforts for drivers. So why do celebrities and the upper crust choose Land Rover for their ride? Why does every well-off TV family drive the Land Rover brand? Why are there Land Rovers in so many music videos? What is going on? Is this British witchcraft, or is it just a solid reputation?

While many high-end brands like Mercedes-Benz or Audi started out producing cars and gradually moved to larger models like SUVs and crossovers throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Land Rover has its roots in the dirt. It was made to tackle farmland and carry explorers through South Asian jungles. If you want a vehicle with a strong, capable heritage behind it, you won’t find another luxury brand that can touch the achievements of Land Rover. Drivers who want an SUV to take them over rocky lands, down muddy trails, and safely back to civilization enjoy the luxury and performance that only Land Rover can give. J.D. Power’s data shows that models like the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have a more than 50% combined loyalty rate. At the same time, S&P Global reports that in 2023, the Range Rover had the most repeat buyers, giving it a narrow lead over other popular brands like Tesla and Ford. The 2022 Range Rover won the S&P Global Mobility Loyalty Award for the Luxury Full-Size SUV segment and helped secure the overall driver loyalty of Land Rover drivers worldwide.

Land Rover Popping Up in Culture

The superior performance of Land Rover helped make it into an icon of its time, while modern pop culture helped keep it that way. A group who loves Land Rover? Celebrities. Celebrity endorsement elevates the Land Rover brand into a name synonymous with the finer things in life. Since the 1950s, celebrities have been opting for the rugged good looks of Land Rover over glitzier models. From Marilyn Monroe posing in a Land Rover Series I in 1953 to reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her famous white and pink Range Rover, celebrities love the high-end looks and feel of the rugged Brit brand.

On the silver screen, the James Bond franchise seems to fit in a Land Rover, from the Defender to the Range Rover, in nearly every film. If it’s not James Bond jumping into one, it’s him running from the henchman driving them. It’s well-known in Hollywood that Land Rover makes some of the best-looking onscreen extras. From Fast and the Furious to Mission Impossible, it’s impossible to ignore the star quality of Land Rover.

A Class All Its Own

You can’t deny that while the elite of society has adapted Land Rover as a cultural status symbol, it has lots to offer the average driver looking for upscale luxury and performance in one good-looking package. Land Rover was created from the remains of war. From the Jeep pieces to the faded green, it was a utility vehicle aimed at farmers and tradesmen who needed a vehicle that wouldn’t let them down.

Land Rover designed its icons like the Defender and the Range Rover, both of which work in the city and out, making them versatile vehicles their drivers can depend on in a variety of situations. The upscale design and comfort offered by Land Rover are unsurpassed when compared to other off-road capable vehicles, putting it in a class all its own.

We can see why brand loyalty is so high. Where else will you find a ‘hot stone massage’ seat combined with advanced features like ClearSight Technology for a unique and rewarding driving experience? Land Rover makes it possible to take luxury with you on or off-road like no other brand can.