Ok, so, what, exactly? It sounds like design is the biggest complaint. Your Marine coworker remarked it looks like a Honda. Perhaps as he goes back to the site on his own and explores it he'll see something else. He's certainly familiar with the fully independently suspended HMMWV. Others have said it looks like a Kia. Or a Ford. Or a Whatever. The only thing it *doesn't* look like is a Jeep. And the closest thing to a Jeep that's not a Jeep is now under a stop-sale in the US because Jeep thought it looked too much like its CJ and complained to a judge.The same investment that Jeep, Mercedes (G-wagen), Porsche (911), Toyota (70, spare me the irrelevant non-US comments), and others with gracefully evolved models have done. Invest money to keep them the same, yet different at the same time. These are halo cars of their markets, which sell all the others cars in a manufacturer's lineup. This is why Subaru brought the S209 to the USA at a loss. They need not sell extremely well, or be everything to everyone. They're niche vehicles, for a niche market. LR has sabotaged their halo car. I find it highly unlikely this bland design will ever grace media as an icon of adventure the same way the classic does. It just doesn't have what it takes.
I have a colleague who has always wanted a Defender, a former US Marine who's service involved some exposure to them. He popped into my office this week and said "Hey, did you hear? The 110 is coming back the USA!". I nodded and showed him LR's Defender site. He said "Oh, they changed it. Into a Honda." Disappointed, he left.
On the other hand, I have another acquaintance who's into lifted brodozers who seems quite interested in the new model. He likes the angry headlights.
The Wrangler is nothing like the CJ that made it truly popular, or the Willy's on which its original incarnation was based. If Jeep had made the CJ for 35 years and then last year introduced the JL, fans would have been furious. Jeep has been part of one of the largest automakers on Earth for close to 40 years. There's a lot of money to be invested there.
The G-Wagen should not be in this discussion at all, because you can't even look at one that costs less than $125,000. But, I would guess it's massively profitable as a unit to Mercedes.
The Land Cruiser is a joke - same price as a Defender and the Defender has better tech, geometry, and capability, and you can only choose from two colors and no options. Toyota can afford to let the LC rot while it sells a few hundred per year because they're either the #1 or #2 automaker in the world by sales depending on the quarter, and massively profitable. We can't get the 70 here so it's not relevant. The 4Runner is about to go through a major update, but has been IFS for decades, and itself hasn't been seriously updated in the better part of a decade.
Porsche 911 - absolutely nothing like its original incarnation, except in silhouette. Constant march of progress there, and they've been able to leverage investment from either the #2 or #1 automaker in the world by sales depending on the quarter for the better part of three decades...though they were as close to bankruptcy as JLR was before Tata bought them, when Volkswagen bought Porsche.
Subaru is far larger than JLR, and does far more volume, with the hottest selling crossover on the market, which gives them the ability to invest in the S209 and sell it at a loss. It's also backed by a massive and massively profitable Japanese industrial conglomerate.
JLR does not and never has been a large volume automaker. Until Ratan Tata bought them and invested a billion dollars in their production, they were never able to update more than one model at a time, and those updates took decades. Ford spent a fraction of Tata's investment to try to cut costs at JLR - they forced Jaguar to use the Mondeo platform for their c-class sedans, they forced their engines on them, and basically stuffed JLR in a box. They have barely broken even for their entire existence. If you understand business, then you understand the hard decisions that drives. Those decisions have a hangover that JLR is still coming out of.
The Defender has to be a world car. It has to be a volume model. It has to meet regulations that didn't exist when the name was originally introduced. It can't be a rock crawler, it can't be a Jeep, it has to be a Land Rover, and in this age of Luxury SUVs, Land Rover's cachet is luxury performance bolstered by technology - where they have been in the US market since they were introduced here in the 1980s. Land Rover was the first to offer ABS on an SUV. The first to offer active roll control on a 4x4. And many other firsts. The US *never* got the cheap farm implement that was the original Defender's heritage.
That's not for everyone, but then neither is a Jeep - I, for one, have ridden and driven in many over my lifetime, all generations from the CJ to the JL, and I *never* wanted a Wrangler. Wranglers are cheap, unreliable, uncomfortable, and good for pretty much only one thing. That's not what I have ever wanted. Now that Land Rover has climbed out of their legendary reliability problems while Jeep has sunk farther into theirs, and now that I'm earning the kind of money where I have a choice, Land Rover is attractive to me, and so far my D5 has been perfect. The Defender will likely be a very good vehicle too.