Welcome to Sharp Builds, where our editors spec their ideal cars, wading through the option list and highlighting the best parts and must-have features.
That’s no easy task on the freshly updated 2024 Defender. For 2024, our favourite go-anywhere SUV has been granted yet another V8 engine option, new interior tech, and one all-new model in the form of the Defender 130 Outbound. (It’s a unique proposition, offering maximum cargo space and utility by putting just five-seats in the massive Defender 130 body.)
While the new Defender Outbound is perfect for big adventures and getting things done, our editors are devout downtown city-dwellers and want a more compact truck that can tackle both condo parking garages and long road trips. Here’s how we built our ultimate 2024 Defender:
Body: Defender 90
While two-door SUVs were a common sight in the 1990s, they’ve (sadly) gone out of favour. Only a few companies still make them, so, of course we had go with the two-door Defender 90. It may be compact, but it can fit a surprisingly huge amount of cargo and/or people. More on that below.
There are currently four versions of the Defender 90 available in Canada, ranging from the four-cylinder $77,300 Defender S (P300) to the $142,480 Defender V8 (P525).
Yes, the V8 is a beast, and the one to get if you want to make an impression in Yorkville or South Granville. But, its stiffer suspension means you’re compromising on-road comfort and off-road ability. So, for most people, we’d recommend the Defender 90 P400. Its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 makes a very healthy 395 horsepower. Plus, we like that its mild-hybrid system (MHEV) helps to reduce emissions. Obviously, all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission are standard.
Trim: Defender X
At $109,000, the V6-powered Defender X is the second-highest model in the 2024 Defender lineup, just below the V8. The X doubles down on the Defender’s off-road prowess by including big-ticket options such as: adjustable air suspension, Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), and an electronic active differential with torque vectoring by braking.
That’s a lot of tech-talk, but the bottom line — and the reason we’re picking it — is that the Defender X lives up to the Defender’s full potential, offering the ideal blend of on-road and off-road capability. The fact it also including full LED lights and the sliding panoramic roof is a nice bonus.
Accessory Packages: None
We’re saying no-thanks to these big packages because we’d rather curate our own set of options.
Seating: Six (!!)
The $950 sixth-seat option is the best-kept secret on the modern Defender. The option seemed to disappear for a time, but now it’s back and we love it. The extra chair goes where the front armrest would be, adding even more utility to this SUV. Need to squeeze one more friend into the truck? No problem.
Exterior: Gondwana Stone
We’d choosing Gondwana Stone paint over dark satin five-spoke wheels. That means we have no choice but to also have a blacked-out roof and hood. (We’d still try to get the regular painted hood though, if possible.) Finally, we’d obviously choose the panoramic rear side glass (because we’re not fans of the alternative “signature graphic” since it blocks so much of the rear side windows.)
Interior: All Glass
The glass roof, panoramic side windows, plus the “Safari Windows” — a classic Defender feature — add up to a very bright, airy cabin, even for back-seat passengers. That’s one of the reasons we love this truck.
Acorn / Lunar Resist trim, Robustec seats, and Light Oyster headlining help keep the cabin bright and durable. The Meridian Surround Sound System is a must-have, as is the $1,361 integrated air compressor (for inflating and deflating tires and/or outdoor gear), the $550 Cold Climate Package, mud flaps, and the $450 Activity Key. We also like the three-zone climate control with its air-quality sensor. The $6,119 remote-control electric winch is a more aspirational choice for us, but still, a winch is incredibly useful if you know how to (properly) use one.
SHARP Land Rover Defender Total Cost: $124,002
All told we spent $124,002. That price includes $12,502 in options, which is a modest total by Sharp Build standards. The result, however, is worth it. If there’s a better small SUV out there than our Defender 90 X, we’ve never seen it.