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Land Rover Freelander II

Land Rover Freelander II

Land Rover's Freelander has been a hugely successful car for the British company. Land Rover sticks to its simple naming structure with its all-new model simply badging it Freelander 2. It couldn't be more different to its predecessor though, both on the road and in regards to quality.

What are its rivals?
The Freelander is partly responsible for the huge growth in four-wheel drive sales. When it was initially launched it offered the go-anywhere ability Land Rover customers were used to, but added decent on-road dynamics. Rivals back then were few, but there are now a wealth to choose from, the Freelander's market share being eaten into by models from both Japanese manufacturers and now increasingly aggressive and impressive Korean competition. Toyota's RAV4, the Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail are obvious rivals, but Land Rover would also add the BMW X3 to that and the new VW Tiguan should not be ignored.

Indeed, throw in some executive estates too, as this HSE Freelander tops £30,000.

How does it drive?
Competently covers it. The Freelander was always okay to drive, never exceptional and the new one is much the same. The ride is decent enough though and body roll around roundabouts and tight corners is pretty well contained, but you're never going to get in a Freelander just for the sake of a drive. A Toyota RAV4 or BMW X3 both deliver more fun behind the wheel.

But the Freelander appeals on a different level; it feeling not dissimilar to a slightly scaled down Discovery. And if you do intend on taking it off road then the Freelander will romp away from its rivals, Land Rover remaining true to its off-road ethos.

Central to this off-road ability, quite literally, is the Terrain Response rotary dial that allows you to select the four-wheel drive setting that best suits your conditions. There are four settings to choose from, general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts and sand, as well as hill descent control should you need it. The turbodiesel is a willing performer, it relatively refined and economical and the six-speed gearbox quick and accurate. The steering is less so, being very light on weighting and feel.

What's impressive?
Compared to the previous Freelander the cabin is a masterpiece. It's very similar to that found in the Discovery and Range Rover Sport, and in HSE trim at least it's very well appointed with leather seats and plenty of equipment. The cabin feels spacious and light; the exterior styling is smart, the Land Rover badge cutting it in the right circles. The ride is composed, the turbodiesel engine offers decent performance, refinement and a 37.

7mpg official combined economy figure and CO2 emissions of 194g/km is also respectable. The optional Bi-Xenon headlamps are hugely impressive, turning night into day, useful if, as you should if you drive a Freelander, you live in the countryside.

What's not?
The Freelander 2's interior might be a quantum leap over its predecessor but Land Rover still insists on using cheap LCD green and black displays around the instruments and stereo. The standard glass sunroof on the HSE doesn't offer a proper blind and creates wind noise, there's not much in the way of covered cubbies around the interior and the heater elements in the windscreen bounce light about when it's wet and dark. The boot's not huge considering the exterior proportions of the Freelander and Land Rover's satellite navigation has some interesting ideas about the quickest routes and traffic avoidance.

Should I buy one?
There's no denying that the Freelander 2 is a very competent all-rounder. If we needed a four-wheel drive we'd put it on the list to test drive, but the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Honda's CR-V would also feature. All are cheaper, and more likely to remain trouble free throughout their lives. The badge kudos certainly adds appeal, and in HSE guise tested here it does feel very upmarket, but we'd probably go for a Volvo XC70 instead, unless we absolutely needed the go-anywhere ability and commanding driving position of the Freelander.


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