Every Freelander uses a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, but you can choose between outputs of 148- and 188bhp. Both develop strong low-end pull, but holding onto the revs soon reveals the 148bhp version’s shortage of power. A six-speed automatic gearbox is standard on the 188bhp model, and an option on the 148bhp unit, which comes with a six-speed manual as standard.
The Freelander is brilliant at ironing out bumps – more like a luxury car on the motorway. However, the body leans as you turn into a corner, and the car bounces around over crests and dips. The steering is accurate, but it’s not exactly quick and could do with a bit more weight and feel at higher speeds. Base models and 2WD versions miss out on Land Rover's Terrain Response System, which lets you optimise the car's set-up for different surface conditions via a simple rotary knob.
The Freelander is pretty refined up to about 50mph – the engine has a slightly agricultural note when you pile on the revs, but it’s very good at shutting out suspension clatter. Unfortunately, the boxy body generates so much wind noise at motorway speeds that it’s impossible to estimate how much noise the tyres, suspension and engine are generating.
The Freelander looks a little pricey compared with some compact 4x4 rivals, but strong resale values mean you’ll get a large chunk of that outlay back when you sell it. To keep running costs in check, manual versions have a stop-start system that reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The 2WD versions are more efficient and more company car tax-friendly, but still not in the same league as the super-clean BMW X3.
Land Rover has had a poor reliability record, but the 2012 JD Power survey showed signs of some improvement: it earned an average rating. The dials and steering wheel are virtually identical to those in its upmarket Discovery sister car, and the cabin materials look and feel similarly robust. Wipe-clean surfaces make it easy to live with, too.
Safety equipment is comprehensive, with stability control and twin front-, side- and curtain airbags all fitted as standard. There's also an airbag under the steering column to protect the driver's knees in an accident, while deadlocks, marked parts, an integrated stereo and locking wheelnuts all help to deter thieves.
The Freelander’s high-set driving position and flat bonnet give you excellent forward visibility and make it easy to place the car on the road. Rear vision is great, too, because the back of the car has an immense amount of glass. The dash is clean-looking, simple to use and feels classy, particularly with the seven-inch colour touch-screen.
Front-seat occupants get plenty of head- and legroom, but rear knee space is no more than adequate. The boot is small compared with the best in class and suffers from wheelarch intrusion; its high floor also means you might struggle to lift heavy items into it. There are 60/40 split rear seats, though, and they lay pretty flat.
Every Freelander gets alloy wheels, air-conditioning, CD player and DAB radio. All four-wheel-drive models get Terrain Response, while GS trim adds climate control, rear parking sensors and heated leather seats. Next up is XS spec, which brings satellite-navigation, automatic lights and wipers, and a better stereo. HSE models get more speakers and a sunroof.
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We're yet to drive the Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 150 GS. However, as soon as we do, our verdict will appear here online.