2014 Land Rover Freelander 2 Road Test and Review…
Land Rover’s entry model, the Freelander 2, is a rugged, hardy little unit with the qualities of a mountain goat.
Tough, reliable and able to climb pretty much anything, the little Land Rover is the pick of the current crop of small SUVs if serious off road action your thing.
Even after a recent freshen up, there’s no hiding the fact the current Freelander is getting a little long in the tooth.
Its boxy design, while it is supremely functional and provides excellent visibility, is something we’ve seen on our roads for years, and the interior, even though it is loaded with mod cons, is starting to show its age.
A new model is in the pipeline, but for now the Land Rover Freelander 2 is the cheapest way to get into a Land Rover.
Cheap isn’t a term that springs easily to mind when talking about the Freelander.
The starting price is $42,300; the diesel SD4 SE model we tested comes in at $56,600 before on roads and options.
Add sat-nav, metallic paint and a spoiler and the price jumps to $61,095.
Price aside, the Freelander 2 is a well-endowed unit, particularly with the 2.2 litre diesel under the bonnet. While it can sound a little agricultural, its pulling power is impressive.
There’s a little turbo-lag from a standstill, but you’re once up and moving the 4-cylinder diesel unit that produces 140kW and 420Nm is effortless in the way it hauls around the 1995kg of Freelander 2.
The smooth shifting 6-Speed auto always seems to be in the right gear at the right time, and is generally imperceptible in its changes.
Economy, surprisingly with a diesel under the bonnet, was no real stand-out.
With a couple of country trips combined with some inner city driving, the best result we could produce over a week was 10.2 litres per 100km.
With no stop-start system in play, and the fact it’s a little heavier than most of its rivals (due mainly to the 4WD system), that might explain its thirst…although we’d hoped for better.
On the road the little Freelander 2 rides really well. Considering its relatively short wheelbase, high ride and standard 18inch alloys (with full size spare) riding on 235/60 R18’s, this is no mean feat; particularly when you take into consideration the twitchy, unpredictable ride found in many of the Freelander 2’s competitors.
It’s far from a sports car but does handle corners as well as can be expected, and will change direction in a predictable fashion, albeit with a bit of body roll.
On the rough stuff the Freelander comes into its own. Corrugations on the dirt are dealt with the minimum of fuss, and the bigger the hill you tackle, the more capable the Freelander 2 seems.
It’s easy to pick the right mode too with Land Rovers famed Terrain response system.
You’ve encountered sand? Pick the sand icon. Deep rutted tracks? Pick the appropriate icon and off you go.
It feels as if the Freelander 2 will go anywhere, and to be honest, that’s the reason you’d buy one.
The Terrain response system is unmatched anywhere in this segment and combined with great departure angles, hill descent control and its overall off-road ability, the Land Rover is, not surprisingly, the benchmark in the rough stuff.
From the driver’s seat, all round vision is easily best in class.
The “Captain” style front seat complete with adjustable armrests are comfortable and endlessly adjustable.
Together with the adjustable steering wheel, it is easy to get comfortable into a great driving position.
The light airy cabin adds to the sense of space, in the back legroom is generous even with the front pews pushed all the way back.
There’s plenty of cargo space in the back, accessed via a tailgate that reveals a relatively low loading floor.
With the back seats down the cargo space revealed is almost enough to move house with…although you’ll struggle to get the fridge in.
The interior is rugged and tough, although the dark plastics tend to mark easily…and there are vast expanses of it. The chunky switchgear is logically placed and is easy to operate; the optional sat-nav is also easy to use.
The central touch screen isn’t the biggest in the business, nor the highest resolution, but like the rest of the Freelander 2, it is easy to make sense of.
The Freelander has been awarded a 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating thanks to a full suite of air-bags, electronic stability control and ABS with electronic brake force distribution.
The Land Rover Freelander 2 in turbo diesel form is a satisfying drive that excels off-road thanks to its torquey engine, smooth gearbox and benchmark 4WD system.
If you’re intentions don’t include an “off the beaten track adventure” though, you’d probably be better placed with something else, such as the Freelander 2’s closely related sibling, the Range Rover Evoque.
Be sure to get behind the wheel of one though if you’re shopping for a small SUV. The Freelander 2 has a character all of its own and there is a lot to love.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo charged diesel 4-Cylinder producing 140KW and 420Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed Auto
Warranty: 3 yrs/100,000kms
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: From $42,300 plus on road costs. As tested $61,095
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Land Rover L359 Freelander 2.