Looks – 8/10
I think the Freelander looks pretty good. The lines are nicely proportioned; maintaining the rugged off-road image but showing hints of sleek luxury at the same time. The new daytime running lights at the front are similar to the Range Rover models, and were one of my favourite touches on the car. Added to a bold grille the front stance is rather imposing. 19-inch wheels are standard kit on the SE and are a nice size for the body, whilst the door handles are very large and give the impression of a strong, solid car. There’s a lot of glass in the Freelander, and without the optional privacy glass the whole car looks a bit transparent. I would definitely go for that to add yet more luxury to the looks.
Step inside the Freelander and you’re greeted to an interior that hints towards the Range Rover models. The materials are all top quality, and the finish equally so. I like the captains front chairs, finished in premium leather; I was one of the first people to test this car so it even still had the new leather smell! The media screen looks well sat in the middle of the dashboard, and plays nicely through the Meridian sound system. The steering wheel reminds me of that of the previous Range Rover Sport too. And that’s no bad thing. The dials are simple yet effective, and there are some nice touches of brushed aluminium knocking about. My only complaint would be that with the gloss black finisher and ebony leather the interior as a whole was a bit on the dark side. Though the twin sunroof did let rather a lot of light in, and creates a focal feature in the cabin.
Handling/Performance – 8/10
The engine in my test car was the 2.2-litre turbocharged TD4 diesel engine. Power is 150PS and the Freelander has an impressive 420Nm of torque. That’s more than enough for the 6-speed gearbox to put on the road through all four wheels. The 0-62mph time isn’t really important (it’s 11.7 seconds by the way) and neither is the top speed of 112mph. The in-gear acceleration and torque band makes the Freelander feel faster than the figures suggest. The 6-speed gearbox is very slick indeed, and the ratios are great for motorway cruising. The cabin is well insulated so the Freelander is quiet at motorway speeds, and the engine is a refined one. There is a supercharged diesel available which has more power, but I never found myself wanting more from a stab of the right foot.
The Freelander rides well too. The suspension is just right, and the comfortable leather seats make any journey a pleasure. The steering is fantastic, because its variable so at low speeds you don’t have to wind a lot of lock on to perform manoeuvres. This also means that this rather tall Land Rover can actually turn in with a bit of gusto. The engineers have done a great job keeping body roll to a minimum; it’s still there but I’ve driven a lot worse. Even over the bumpier, twistier A-roads you can find in these parts the Freelander remained a relaxing driving experience, and I’d happily take one anywhere. There’s several modes to control the 4WD system as well, comprising of sand, gravel, mud ruts and snow/ice.
Economy – 8/10
The diesel engine is pretty good on fuel as well. CO2 emissions are 165g/km which put the Freelander in VED band G. That’s a good one to be in because the first year rate is still the same as the subsequent rates, which is £180 for this year. And considering its size that’s not bad at all. Combined fuel economy of 45.6mpg is a welcome figure too, such that you’ll spend less time at the pumps than you would in most big 4x4s. And for the target market the Freelander will attract, economy will be important. There are more economical alternatives out there, and that’s the only think that harm the Freelander’s case for being green.
Practicality – 10/10
As you would expect from looking at the sizeable exterior, the Freelander is a rather roomy vehicle. The driving position is nice and high, with plenty of head and leg room. The rear is comfortable for even tall adults, and the boot great for dogs and/or shopping. Visibility is great too, thanks largely to the vast mirrors and lofty driving position. There’s enough gadgetry to keep you relaxed whilst driving too, thanks to cruise control, iPod connectivity, heated seats and Bluetooth. To live with the Freelander was delightful, and from behind the wheel you could easily think you were in a Range Rover, because it feels built to last. And then, being a Land Rover, you know it can go anywhere too. It might not have the low range box of other models, but it can certainly hold its own when the going gets tough. If there’s one four wheel drive system that I’d put my faith in, it would definitely be Land Rover’s.
Fun – 8/10
I had a hoot during my week with the Freelander. I like the image, and its sizeable presence on the road. It was great sat in a captain’s chair happily cruising along in comfort and bliss. And I just like how the Freelander made me feel. I never once thought “but it’s not a Range Rover”. In fact, I was rather content in the knowledge that I was sat there, in my baby Rangey, getting good miles per gallon. And it made me feel happy, which is what I look for in any car. I’d love to take a Freelander off road, to see just how well it copes with tricky terrain, but I get the impression it would still be comfortable over the rocks and bumps too!
So that’s my week with the Freelander then. I started out not knowing what to expect at all, and was completely taken aback with how good it was. The model I tested would be the one I’d opt for as well. The SE trim with the TD4 engine seems the best value to me at £27,765. The aforementioned twin sunroof will set you back a further £915, but you really need not add anything to the standard specification to enjoy this car. If you want any more information pop into your nearest Land Rover dealer or visit the Land Rover website where you can even configure your own car. The Land Rover Freelander; quality. Understated.
Total Score – 42/50