Production of the Land Rover Defender 90, with 93-inch wheelbase, began in 1984.
While the engine and other body panels carried over from the Series III, mechanically the 90 was modernized, including coil springs, offering a more comfortable ride and improved axle articulation, a permanent four-wheel-drive system derived from the Range Rover, a modernised interior, a taller one-piece windscreen and a new series of progressively more powerful and modern engines.
This period saw Land Rover market the utility Land Rover as a private recreational vehicle. While the basic pick-up, 4x4 and van versions were still working vehicles, the County 4x4s were sold as multi-purpose family vehicles, featuring improved interior trim and more comfortable seats. This change was reflected in Land Rover starting what had long been common practice in the car industry — detail changes and improvements to the County model from year to year in order to attract new buyers and to encourage existing owners to trade in for a new vehicle. These changes included different exterior styling graphics and colour options, and the introduction of new options, such as radio-cassette players, Rostyle wheels, headlamp wash and wipe systems, as well as accessories such as surfboard carriers and bike racks. The switch from leaf spring to coil spring suspension was a key part of the new model's success. It offered improved off-road ability, load capacity, handling, and ride comfort.