What is it?
With all the media focus on the high-fashion Range Rover Evoque, it’s easy to forget that Land Rover still makes the Freelander. The current version dates from 2006, and like the Evoque, the Ford S-Max and others, it’s loosely based on what started out as a Ford Mondeo understructure. Unlike Victoria Beckham’s wheels of choice, however, the Freelander is a square-cut, practical-looking SUV with something of the look of a downsized Discovery.
The Freelander line was Land Rover’s first attempt at a compact(ish) “soft-roader”, but it’s still a tougher machine than some others in that market and well able to do the serious off-roading its brand-badge promises. That’s unless you have an entry-level version with mere front-wheel drive, of course, although losing drive to the rear wheels does gain you some CO2 output reduction.
All current Freelanders have a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine based on a shared Ford/Peugeot unit, of either 150 or 190bhp. They lack the external spare wheel and side-hinged tailgate of the original, smaller model, and have moved upmarket to make them seem expensive if you go for high power and trim levels: up to £36,995 for a 190bhp HSE 4×4. That’s until you check the prices of rivals such as the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5, against which the now-dated Freelander seems almost a bargain.
In normal driving you’re unlikely to notice much difference between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive Freelanders, but in slippery conditions or proper off-roading the better Freelander is clearly the one that befits Land Rover’s mud-plugging pedigree. As with most immediate rivals there’s no low-range transmission setting, but such is the pulling power of the turbo diesel that you’re unlikely to miss it.
There’s a hill descent control for picking your way down steep, slippery slopes, which automatically applies the anti-lock brakes to keep you at a manageable speed. Such systems are now commonplace, but the Freelander range had it first.
As you might expect, given that the Freelander’s suspension and steering were developed under the same engineer who makes Jaguars feel as good as they do, the compact Land Rover steers precisely, rides mainly smoothly and handles with surprising agility. Couple that with a punchy engine, especially the higher-power one, and you get an enjoyable drive.
It’s roomy inside, but the décor and the finishes are starting to look dated now and there isn’t quite the same aura of quality that you’d find in the German rivals — or, indeed, in the upmarket Evoque (which is about £6,000 more expensive for an equivalent engine and transmission).
Rear passengers sit high for a good view forward and, unlike in the Evoque, there’s a good view to the sides and rearwards too. There’s something reassuringly simple and understated about the Freelander’s cabin compared with many of its newer, flashier rivals, and that will endear it to many.
What to look out for when buying a used Freelander 2
There have been three manufacturer recalls issued on Freelander 2 models, all relating to vehicles built before May 2008 so the chances are that affected cars have already been sorted. Check with a dealer to be sure. Owners seem pretty satisfied with their Freelander 2s, although the advice is to check for noisy rear diffs, oil leaks from the bell housing and weeping steering racks.
As with any vehicle that has the capability to spend time off road and tow heavy loads, we suggest you check it over carefully. Look for signs of damage to the vehicle’s underside and check for worn clutches, noisy transmissions and clunking suspension. On balance, however, the Freelander is proving to be a very robust second-hand buy.
The One to Buy
Land Rover Freelander 2 2.2 TD4
- 2179cc, 4-cylinder turbo diesel
- 150bhp @ 4000rpm
- 309 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual (automatic available)
- 0-62mph in 10.9sec
- Top Speed:
- 45.6mpg combined
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4500mm, W 2195mm, H 1740mm