First Drive Review – 2024 Ineos Grenadier Trialmaster – Old-School SUV Charm in a Modern Wrapper

The iconic old-school Land Rover Defender left some empty shoes to fill when it left U.S. shores. The rugged old-school SUV delivered massive amounts of capability and also created a small following among loyalists. When it left the U.S., it created a void, and while the revitalized Defender is doing an admirable job of restoring the nameplate’s luster in the U.S., hardcore Defender fans were still not pleased. One of these fans was Sir Jim Ratcliffe the CEO of the massive chemical conglomerate Ineos. When Land Rover refused to build a suitable replacement for the Defender, he embarked on a mission to build his ideal SUV.

The result is the 2024 Ineos Grenadier which is attempting to give old-school fans a modern interpretation of an analog off-road SUV. But is the Grenadier the long-awaited antidote that trail-seeking buyers need?

Rugged lines set Grenadier apart

Unlike other SUVs on the market, the Grenadier does not have aerodynamic styling or rounded edges. Instead, the Grenadier has old-school styling that embraces the boxy aesthetic with the front end featuring slab sides and a simple front grille with our Trialmaster (not to be confused with Trailmaster) featuring rounded LED headlights. The look is a leap back in time and the boxy motif extends to the rear of this French-built SUV with rounded taillights adding a degree of polish to the rough and tumble presentation.

Ineos says that the base Grenadier in particular is like a blank canvas with buyers being able to customize it to suit their distinct tastes with the company even announcing a special Arcane division that aims to enhance the bespoke character of this SUV even further. A solid ladder frame chassis underpins the Grenadier and our tester had a simple set of steelies to accent its all-terrain tires. While the exterior styling does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to its style game, the SUV is still a unique sight when it goes up and down the road. Besides, buyers looking for more luxury will be directed to the Fieldmaster.

Interior is functional but loses out on refinement

Slip inside the Grenadier and you’ll find that Ineos designers clearly understood the assignment when it came to this SUV with the cabin of our tester being made mostly out of durable materials that can withstand tough use. A distinct feature of the SUV is its large bank of controls mounted on the roof with these switches controlling a wide array of features including the optional locking differentials. The center dashboard gets in on the act too and gets clearly marked controls and switchgear. Storage is very generous in the Ineos with a large bin between the front seats being complimented by a large glovebox, several smaller storage nooks, and 44.3 cubic feet of storage space in the rear luggage compartment. That space is partly due to the Grenadier being only offered as a two-row SUV.

When it comes to the art of hauling people though, the Grenadier loses points in refinement. The back seats are tight for taller passengers and the front seats could use more support in the seat bottoms. A 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard and while it does a good job of going through the motions there were occasional bouts of lag when going through certain menus. The Grenadier has wireless and wired Apple CarPLay functionality but Android users will be stuck with a wired setup only.


BMW performance gives Grenadier its mojo

Performance for all Grenadier models comes from a turbocharged 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six that makes 282 hp and is mated to an eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard and it’s paired with a mechanically operated two-speed transfer case that’s operated by a chunky lever to the left of the gear selector. A standard center-locking differential is standard on all models but the electronically operated diffs are an optional extra. Trialmaster models like our tester get more off-road-focused gear including all-terrain tires, a snorkel-style air intake, and a second battery that allows owners to power 110-volt devices. Since the Grenadier is meant to appeal to those who remember a time when Margaret Thatcher, the Cold War, and analog ruled the world. It should come as no surprise that the SUV eschews modern features like smart terrain settings and an electronic traction control system.

This focus on the past means drivers have to have a certain degree of skill to get the most out of the SUV. We had a chance to test how good we were on the trail at the 2024 MAMA Spring Rally where a demanding off-road course awaited our green-hued tester. Heavy rains turned the course into a mud-soaked ice rink and the all-terrain tires of our tester proved no match for the slick mud with our tester requiring frequent course corrections to avoid trees and other rogue obstacles. This was partially due to the low amounts of grip our tester had from the tires but the low-geared steering and the sold axles also played a part in making this SUV a handful out on the trail. The inline-six has to work hard to deliver strong acceleration but when it’s in more relaxed environments the engine’s smoothness makes up for some of its faults.

Ineos says that the Grenadier can make the sprint to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds but this sluggish figure is not a big deal since the SUV only tops out at 99 mph. The EPA rates the Grenadier at 15 mpg in both city and freeway driving but the Trialmaster loses one mpg in each category for a balanced 14 mpg in both categories.

Value Quotient

Pricing for a base Grenadier starts at $73,100 for a base model with Trialmasters like our tester starting at over $80,000. As mentioned the Base model is a blank canvas and the Trialmaster is the all-out trail-ready one. As such, we recommend the Fieldmaster if you’re looking for a balanced Grenadier that can be used in everyday driving. The Fieldmaster gets more luxury features including heated seats and upscale leather upholstery. The Grenadier also has a massive options list and if you go all out on the options, you can push the SUV past the $100,000 mark.

The Grenadier will be joined by a Quartermaster pickup that swaps out the rear cargo area for a 61-inch truck bed but as a whole, the Ineos Grenadier lineup is certainly a compelling alternative to modern SUVs and while some of the ways it does things will not be for everyone, if you’re looking for a refreshing slice of simplicity in your SUV experience, the 2024 Ineos Grenadier might fit the bill.