The Freelander is not the freshest looking crossover around, but the new engine technology and equipment certainly help bring a familiar model right up to date.
Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, 177kW/340Nm, 6-speed automatic, full-time four-wheel drive, Combined economy 9.6 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 8.8 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4500mm long, 1740mm high, 2660mm wheelbase, kerb weight 1775kg, luggage capacity 405 litres, fuel tank 70 litres, 17-inch wheels on 235/65 tyres.
We like: High-tech new Si4 engine (thanks Ford), now well-equipped, good price.
We don’t like: Looks dated against latest crossovers, not dynamic on-road.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
That the Land Rover Freelander is still around! This compact crossover has been somewhat overshadowed by the similar-sized and very glamorous Range Rover Evoque, but Land Rover certainly doesn’t see the latter as a replacement for the former. They’re different brands for a start and very different prices: the revised Freelander 2 starts at $66,000, while the Evoque opens at $80,000 – and that’s before you start on the long path through the options list.
The Freelander 2 has been upgraded with a new engine, minor styling changes inside and out, and a lot of extra equipment.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The petrol-six of the previous model is out, replaced by a new 2.0-litre turbo four. Land Rover calls this model the Si4, but you might call it EcoBoost because the new powerplant is the same Ford direct-injection unit that you’ll find in a Mondeo or Falcon (or Evoque for that matter).
Smart move: the Si4 is not only brilliant to drive, it produces more power than the old six and is 14 percent more economical. It’s smooth, crisp when you work it hard and operates seamlessly through a six-speed automatic transmission.
But don’t expect a super-sporty chassis from Freelander. It’s certainly not imprecise or uncomfortable, but Freelander is a crossover that puts more emphasis on off-road ability than most, so it feels a little more SUV-like on blacktop than some rivals.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
Despite its compact size, in many ways the Freelander is packaged like an old-school SUV: upright driving position, square shape, large glass areas for great visibility. Overall that makes it a very easy vehicle to drive around the city as well as in the wild.
The interior has been tidied up significantly and has gained desperately needed features such as Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, USB/iPod compatibility and keyless start. There’s a new five-inch screen in the main instrument cluster that displays primary vehicle information, including the status of Terrain Response – Land Rover’s selector that changes the powertrain and driver-assistance systems according to the type of off-road driving you are doing.
The centre console has been redesigned around the new electronic parking brake and Terrain Response is now operated with buttons rather than the traditional circular controller.
The parking brake is an intelligent system: it adjusts braking force according to incline and can even tell if the brakes are hot or cold.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
The Freelander is not the freshest looking crossover around, but the new engine technology and equipment certainly help bring a familiar model right up to date. In addition to the new Si4 models, there’s a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel (TD4) at the same price.
Freelander is still a pleasingly functional machine and it’s in the market at price that allows Land Rover – a brand with a lot of credibility and badge-appeal – to compete with many mainstream models. Don’t forget that we are now in the age of the $63,000 Toyota RAV4; in that context, the Freelander is certainly worth a second look.
Air conditioning: Climate
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: No
Head-up display: No
Heated/ventilated seats: No
Keyless entry/start: No/Yes
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: Yes
Parking radar: Rear
Power boot or tailgate: No
Power seat adjustment/memory: No
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Trip computer: Yes