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2022 Land Rover Defender bulks up with a 518-hp V8

The 2022 Land Rover Defender has arrived* with an updated suite of powertrains (including a 518-horsepower, supercharged V8) and new equipment offerings, including an upgraded (and improved, Land Rover says) infotainment system. 

Let’s start with that V8. It’s the only engine offered in the Defender without its cylinders all in a straight line. The supercharged 5.0-liter engine offers 518 hp and 461 pound-feet of torque, and can propel the SUV to 60 mph a full second quicker than the fastest Defender currently on sale. Do you need another 100 horsepower in a Defender? Do you need V8 noises? Do you need to hit 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds? Do you need a top speed of 149 mph? 

We can’t answer these questions for you, but if you peruse our critiques of the 2020 Defender, you’ll find that we did not cite a lack of power among the SUV’s shortcomings. Plus, the V8 will come with at least one drawback of its own: weight. Land Rover has not yet released full specs for U.S. models, but a spokesperson told us that the EU-spec model gains between 600 and 700 pounds making the jump from the I-6 to the V8. A lot of that is likely due to beefing up driveline and chassis components. Land Rover touts the V8 model’s larger, solid anti-roll bars, for example. 

The V8 will anchor the top end of the 2022 Defender’s engine lineup, which will still include the 2.0- and 3.0-liter engines, which produce 296 and 395 horsepower, respectively. Overseas, the 2022 Defender gets both a diesel engine and a PHEV variant as well. Neither will cross the Atlantic this year, and we suspect the only one that has any chance of being sold here is the PHEV. Certifying diesel powertrains in the United States has proved challenging over the past five years, to say the least. 

The inclusion of the V8 brought with it adjustments to the Defender’s chassis and driveline. The trick rear differential, adaptive chassis components and its selectable drive modes (Land Rover calls it “Terrain Response”) were all recalibrated, as was its torque vectoring programming. A new “Dynamic” mode will allow drivers to extract all of the Defender V8’s potential, or simply hang the rear end out, if hooning a 4×4 is your thing. The “V8” badges and blue accents in the exterior shots here are included among the dress-up goodies that accompany the bigger engine, and the brakes aren’t just painted differently; they’re bigger too. 

2022 also marks the introduction of an upgraded Pivi Pro infotainment suite, which now has a larger optional touchscreen (11.4 inches), wireless device charging and a stronger Wi-Fi signal. Land Rover says the new system also boots much quicker and offers superior response to the outgoing unit, both of which are welcome improvements. 

* We stuck that asterisk on “arrived” above because if the past year has shown us anything, it’s that Land Rover is struggling to get Defenders into circulation, especially here in the States, where the short-wheelbase 90 model has been AWOL since launch and 110 models, while available, have largely been scarce. Land Rover does not yet have pricing information available for the 2022 model; that will come closer to launch, whenever that ends up being. 

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