Mercedes-Benz M-Class 2009 Review
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The first Freelander had its moments, a good-looking and compact SUV. Later versions had better engines and transmissions.
Yet there were some build issues, cabin ergonomics were not always great and that first Freelander, for the price, was uncompetitive against any number of rivals.
This time around the Freelander has moved on and up. It is now quite an endearing, comfortable and capable machine in both diesel and petrol forms. It is now worth being seen as a mini-Range Rover, a rival for the likes of BMW's X3.
Prices start at a respectable $49,990 for a petrol-engined SE, moving through four models to $57,990 for a diesel-engined HSE Freelander.
There are many parts of the package that impress; both engines are quick and keen, the six-speed automatic transmission a little gem and the ride belies the size of the machine.
Downsides include solid fuel consumption from the 3.2 litre petrol engine when pushed and, in some areas, a little too much fussiness.
Appreciated is the dial-up terrain response button on the centre console. While the Freelander has no low range, this system does change engine and transmission responses plus adjust, where necessary, some of the electronic traction controls.
Unlike the same system in the Discovery and Range Rover (both with low range plus more power and torque) this does not allow for foolproof four-wheel-driving.
But it does help, switching from the road setting to say, mid and ruts, for better (if limited) creeping ability.
Now if only this dial went a little further and automatically switched off all the Freelanders' buzzers and bells, seat belt warning, parking distance control warnings, key in ignition warnings.
For there will be times when crossing paddocks, opening gates or shifting tree limbs from overgrown forest tracks where a driver may be in and out of the vehicle a bit, may be moving forward five metres without a seatbelt.
And while on the little gripes (and Land Rover's not on its Pat Malone here) can we please have a remote-controlled key fob where it doesn't take a high-powered torch to work out in the dark which is unlock, which is lock and which is tailgate release.
Having said that, Freelander does this cute business of folding in its mirrors when its locked up and lighting up the doors when reopened.
And there are quite a few little gadgets to like, a reasonable amount of creature comforts and conveniences. Interior space is not huge but the driver and front passenger are well accommodated, armrests for both. This time tall drivers can see below the top of the windscreen.
Despite a little extra length, the rear cargo space needs careful packing and the rear seat may not suit bigger adults over a long distance.
There is more to Freelander 2 than a luxury interior, one now has more hints of the bigger Land Rover's interior design.
There is now a better ride, better handling and more refinement to help distinguish the British product from the rest of the class.
Maybe the initial steering feel could have more meat but once turned in the Freelander is an agile machine, pushed along easy over a mountain road or down a dirt track.
Most torque is fed to the front wheels in normal driving but the torque balance is adujsted continuously to ensure traction when the tar runs out or turns slippery.
And so the baby Land Rover can be pushed along with confidence, helped by the eagerness of both engines and that slick six-speed automatic.
The four-cylinder diesel is smart and, with 118kW and maximum torque of 400Nm at 2000rpm, very handy when attacking hills; the six-cylinder petrol runs out like a rally engine.
The Freelander 2 rides with authority, it is well damped for roads through the back-blocks and able to tackle big lumps without upsetting handling or grip. It rides like a bigger machine, more like a Range Rover than some compact rivals.
At the end of the track the Land Rover Freelander 2 may not get that much further through rough-and-tumble four-wheel-drive country but it is a nicer machine than most for getting to that track.
It is also has a full-sized spare and would appear to be better bolted together than its predecessor.
This is a fine, grown-up compact with the only question still to be answered is who will own Land Rover if Ford decides to sell? And will that harm Land Rover's recent progress?
|HSE (4X4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$9,500 – 12,990||2007 Land Rover Freelander 2 2007 HSE (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|SE (4X4)||3.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$6,900 – 10,990||2007 Land Rover Freelander 2 2007 SE (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|SE TD4 (4X4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$8,800 – 13,310||2007 Land Rover Freelander 2 2007 SE TD4 (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
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