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Land Rover Freelander. Worthy Of The Land Rover Badge?

Aug 17, 2007
If you are searching for a fun, compact four wheel drive vehicle that will keep you out of trouble on the occasional foray off the road, then the Land Rover Freelander may be worth a close inspection.

While the Freelander has the famous Land Rover name, it is not in the same league as the Discovery, Defender or Range Rover when it comes to its off road abilities. For starters, it does not have a low-high range transfer case. However, on the plus side for off road driving, it does include Hill Descent Control which will definitely benefit more novice off roaders. Hill Descent Control basically does the hard work for you when you are trying to crawl your way down a steep, rocky or slippery slope. It also has permanent four wheel drive and electronic traction aids. Unfortunately though, the ground clearance is not enough to stop you getting hooked up on really rough tracks and the travel in the suspension is not what you would expect from a serious off road vehicle.

If you are after a compact four wheel drive with a petrol engine, then you can probably forget the Freelander as from 2001, only a 2.0 litre turbo diesel version was available. While the turbocharged diesel is a bit sluggish off the mark (it takes just over 14 seconds to get from zero to 100 km/h) it does have good mid range pulling power so you can overtake on the highway with confidence. And as it's a diesel, the fuel economy is great with figures of 10 litres per 100 kms fairly easy to achieve and you'll get even better fuel economy out on the open highway.

The Freelander comes in two different body types: the three door and five door station wagon. The three door is available in both Softback and Hardtop versions. The Softback is really a semi convertible with a soft top that actually folds forward. This allows greater access to the rear luggage area. If you're after a vehicle for cruising down to the beach, then the Softback is probably the Freelander you'll want to check out.

While the Freelander offers a smooth ride, the handling is not up to scratch when compared with other four wheel drives in the same class. Another problem with the Freelander, particularly for taller drivers, is the high driving position. Unfortunately, there is no real height adjustability. For the back passengers, the seats are hard and for longer trips, would prove rather uncomfortable. There is not much leg room to speak of either.

Overall, the Freelander is probably not the best choice if most of your driving is done on suburban and inner city streets. This is mainly because of the sluggish start of the Freelander's diesel engine and auto transmission. It can actually make city driving a bit of a chore. Where the Freelander performs best is out on the open highway or on not too difficult off road tracks.

The Land Rover Freelander probably doesn't represent the best value when you consider the other options from the Asian manufacturers. Initially, they were fairly expensive, with the price dropping on later models.

What to watch out for when buying a one owner Freelander
If you like the looks of the Land Rover Freelander, and you are not too concerned about the sluggish response of the engine around town, then here are some points to watch out for when you're inspecting:
Check for leaking roofs and flapping tops on the Softback version.
Check that all the electrical equipment is working properly as this can be a problem in the Freelander.
Check for rattles in the doors and dash.
Mechanical problems were common, especially in earlier Freelanders with many customers unhappy with the response from Land Rover. Get a professional inspection to make sure you are not buying a lemon.
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