There’s something so reassuringly familiar about stepping up into the revised 2024 Defender now, a few years after the model’s much-hyped re-introduction to the Canadian market. Perhaps it’s the commanding driving position, the unpretentious utilitarian-yet-luxurious style, or the cleverly designed interior that provides maximum flexibility with minimum fuss. (Baby seat? Skiis? Furniture? Oversized suitcases? Muddy camping gear? Yes, the Defender says, no problem.)
The blocky SUV fits into a busy life like your favourite pair of leather boots. It’s the automotive equivalent of Danner’s heirloom-quality hikers, and, just like those boots, it’ll look good pretty much anywhere and see you through any adventure.
For 2024, our favourite go-anywhere SUV is defending its class-leader crown with a few key tweaks. We’ve recently driven the latest model to see how it stacks up.
Now, of course, we’ve very familiar with the Defender. We driven it through grille-high mud and muck, sent it up rocky climbs that’d make a goat nervous, waded through rivers and, once — with Bowler’s extreme Defender 90 rally truck — we’ve even rolled it and kept right on racing. So, this time around, we wanted to know what the Defender’s like in the real world of day-to-day errands, downtown traffic, and the urban grind.
What’s New in the 2024 Defender?
There are significant changes under the hood of the 2024 Defender. Perhaps most significantly, there’s yet another V8 engine on offer, dubbed the P500. It has a little less chutzpah than the range-topping P525 V8, but fear not: with 493 horsepower on tap the new P500 is still very much overkill.
Also new is the Defender Outbound. It’s a unique proposition, offering maximum cargo space and utility by putting just five-seats in the massive Defender 130 body. Land Rover calls it the, “ultimate expression of Defender’s breadth of talents.” Cargo space is truly cavernous, at up to 2,516 cubic litres, or 1,329 if the second-row seats are in use.
The elongated Defender 130 is also now available for 2024 with the familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8, which will be good news for anyone loading this behemoth up to its full payload capacity.
Finally, there’s the optional new County Pack, available on Defender 110 models, and fitted to our test car. The Pack brings blue side graphics and a matching Tasman Blue contrast roof and tailgate that gives this otherwise rugged SUV a classy sheen.
What’s the New P500 V8 Like?
We drove the 2024 Defender 110SE with the new P500 V8, fitted with the $900 County Pack and more than $12,000 in other optional extras. (Including an extended leather interior, a glorious Meridian stereo, and too many other luxuries to list here.) The County graphics and two-tone paint elevate the Defender’s rugged design, making it look somewhat more sophisticated and decadent.
The cabin feels massive and airy, with plenty of space for storing winter gear, backpacks, and other little daily items. In fact, the Defender’s highly original interior design and outdoorsy vibe make this our favourite interior among SUVs in this class. And, we’ve come to enjoy the Pivi Pro infotainment system with its crisp 11.4-inch glass touchscreen. Over-the-air capability means it just keeps getting better too.
The headline feature though is really this 5.0-litre supercharged V8, which feels effortlessly muscular. (It’s beefy enough to get the larger Defender 130 from 0-100 km/h in as little as 5.7 seconds.) But that doesn’t mean you can drive the Defender like a sports car. In corners, it resists body-roll well thanks to some very clever suspension, but there’s still no escaping the sense that you’ve got a lot of mass at play here. Instead, the V8 Defender is best when driven in a relaxed manner, riding the tidal wave of torque and enjoying the scenery out the enormous, panoramic glasshouse.
The 2024 Defender 110SE doesn’t come cheap, starting at $125,200, but then again you get an SUV that can truly do it all. Also, the big V8 engine is hardly frugal; if you want something lighter on fuel without sacrificing off-road ability, go for the 395-horsepower P400 model or even the four-cylinder P300. Both offer enough power for daily use.
The bottom line is the 2024 Defender now offers more choices for customization and personalization. Mix and match your favourite engine, options, and bodystyle to build the perfect SUV for your needs. And, yes, we totally understand if that means getting V8, even if it is overkill. The 2024 Defender is here. Long live the king.