Land Rover’s two or four-wheel drive Freelander is a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). It was first produced in 1997 and ended its run in 2014.
From 2007 it was significantly improved, and sold for the rest of its life as the Freelander 2 - this is model we will concentrate on here.
Diesel is the only way with the Freelander and the engines come in varying levels of power. The four-wheel drive version is the one to go for if mud-plugging is needed – this is known as the TD4 and the normal two-wheel drive Freelander is called the eD4.
The SUV comes paired with either a six speed manual transmission or an automatic gearbox. All of the engines heave the Freelander around well and the gearboxes change slickly.
The decent mechanicals help make it a good towing machine and the car delivers strong, refined performance.
The two-wheel-drive, lower powered, eD4 power unit is the best to opt for if off-roading isn’t really needed because it doesn’t use up as much fuel and is cheaper to run.
Indeed, 47mpg on average can be teased from the tank and this model only emits 158g/km of CO2, meaning road tax is £180 per year.
Ride and handling
The Freelander feels agile for such a big vehicle when pushed into the twisty sections of roads, and body lean is hardly noticeable. This translates into a nicely planted drive along meandering country lanes.
The ride is elegant and the Freelander’s suspension smooths out the most blemished of road surfaces. Also, as long as the four-wheel-drive variant is chosen, the SUV is a talented off-roader, should the need arise.
But, for most of the time, the cheaper two-wheel-drive Freelander behaves like regular family transport, with nicely weighted steering and comfortable seats.
Land Rover has not held back on the amount of safety kit fitted to the Freelander, either, and the model has a maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP. The car comes with multi airbags, ISOFIX fitting points for child seats, electronic brake force distribution and traction control.
Leg and headroom for all occupants in the Freelander is boundless. Two adults will have plenty of space in the back. The car is hugely practical, too and the durable-looking cabin is ideal for families with children.
There’s heaps of room in the boot – 755 litres with the seats up – more than enough room to transport the family’s holiday luggage. And with the seats down, a bike can be easily carried.
The bottom rung S trim level has enough kit for most needs. Equipment includes air con, alarm, electric windows all around, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, CD stereo with MP3 connection and remote steering wheel buttons to control the stereo.
You might want to go up one notch to the GS if leather is your thing. Hide upholstery is easier to clean, so this is worth having. With this spec you also get Bluetooth and cruise control, as well as climate control.
What to know before you buy
You will need to fork out a fistful of cash to buy and run a Freelander with four-wheel-drive, so the eD4 two-wheel-drive variant is the one to remember to buy if on-road use forms the majority of your motoring needs.
Almost all respectable used models are on Land Rover approved dealer forecourts and price-tags are still high for the bulk of examples. Likewise, expect expensive bills if you need impromptu maintenance.
Average Land Rover repair costs are high, although the bills are no worse than those for other high-ranking SUVs. There were two recalls back in 2008. One was where there were fears the sunroof may separate from the vehicle, and another for an issue with the booster heater and the possibility that the car could set alight.
This was all ironed out at the time, but if any doubt, Land Rover dealers will verify and sort the work before purchase if, by some stroke of bad luck, it was missed initially.
The BMW X3 is a commendable competitor. Just like the Freelander, the quality interior is comfortable and well made, so it will stand up to hard use – especially if you have children. BMW tech is right up there with the best, too.
The BMW looks more appealing than the Freelander but its boot is far smaller at 480 litres compared with the Land Rover’s 755. It’s also a sportier drive, as is another rival - the solidly made Audi Q5. However, the Audi’s boot is still less than the Land Rover’s at only 540 litres.
The Land Rover Freelander is not made any more, but it’s still rightly thought of as a high-status luxury SUV. It’s a versatile machine, offering an enjoyable drive, splendid refinement and masses of room.
Indeed, it’s one of the safest and sturdiest used family vehicles on the market. Just be aware that, even secondhand, Freelanders still command premium price-tags.