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Land Rover Freelander 2 2010 review

THE champagne corks have been popping at Land Rover. Not only has the Range Rover turned 40 (see page 50-51), but the Freelander 2 is also celebrating a milestone.  The company has just built the 200,000th Freelander 2 - a blue TD4-e - at its Halewood plant in the UK.

The Freelander 2 has been around since 2007 and its chunky looks, proven off-roader capability and engines remain a strongpoint.  Newcomers like the Audi Q5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volvo XC60 and BMW X1 are muscling in on its territory but like all Land Rovers, it has a few tricks of its own to keep prospective buyers interested.

The car has been designed from the ground up to go off-road and deliver car-like on-road behaviour.  Land Rover Australia spokesman, Tim Krieger, says owners do actually take their cars off road.  Almost half go off-road "at least once every six months", he says.

Pricing and engines

The TD4-e six-speed manual is a recent addition to the local lineup and is also the first off-roader to use stop/start technology to save fuel and lower emissions.  At $45,590 it is the entry opener. The TD4-e joins the regular 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and 3.2-litre six-cylinder Si6 petrol SE and HSE models.

The petrol models start at $49,990 for the SE and $55,990 for the HSE. The diesel adds an extra $2800 to the price.  The Si6 six develops 171kW/317Nm while the 2.2-litre diesel pumps out 118kW/400Nm.  The six sprints to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds while the turbo-diesel takes a more leisurely 11.2 seconds.

Speed may not favour the diesel but economy does. It has a combined fuel economy figure of 8.5 l/100km compared to the petrol six's 11.2 litres/100km.

Four-wheel drive design

The Freelander has good approach and departure angles, 210mm ground clearance and a wading depth of 500mm. It also has a full-size spare.  Visually the Freelander shares its chunky design cues with the larger Discovery 4 and Range Rover, and also inherits the same "terrain response" system.  In the Freelander it has four settings, on-road, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts and sand.

The four-wheel drive system is a Haldex unit that pre-charges the hydraulic system as soon as the engine is started, which means full-time four-wheel drive is available from rest.  The Freelander's body also uses double-sided zinc-coated steel panels as part of the most sophisticated anti-corrosion treatment ever used on a Land Rover.

Vulnerable areas like the sills and lower doors are coated in a tough cladding and the bumpers are made from impact and scratch-resistant materials.  The radiator is protected by a strong undertray and a structural steel undertray protects the engine.

Interior

The cabin is light and airy and the rear seat splits 60/40, providing 755 litres with the rear seats up and 1670 litres when they are folded.  A reversible load floor cover with carpet on one side and a water-resistant surface on the other takes the worry out of wet or muddy gear.

Driving

Unlike some other faux off-roaders, the Freelander is more than a pumped-up pretender.  You get an off-road heritage that other companies can only dream of.  But today the mini-me Range Rover faces enormous challenges.

Apart from being a serious four-wheel drive, it must confront newer European off-roaders as well as Japanese and Korean rivals that deliver equal enjoyment but better pricing and equipment levels.

So how does it stack up?  Well for starters, it still remains one of our favourite off-roaders.  It's been more than 18 months since we last drove one but a fresh look at the latest HSE reveals that it is still as good on road as it is off.

The steering is sharp and responsive and would not be out of place on a hot hatch. The wagon's grip, ride and handling too, are very car-like.  There is some body roll in corners but you never feel uncomfortable and the suspension soaks up rough roads well.

Inside, the cabin has a quality look and feel.  The chunky rubberised audio controls and switchgear have a great tactile quality and the sat-nav system is easy to operate.  Our HSE came with a ‘premium pack’, which adds 19-inch alloys, rear spoiler, covered centre console storage area, electric front seats and colour-coded bumpers.

It is normally a $3160 option but is available free of charge on the HSE for a limited time.  The 2.2-litre diesel owes its origins to Ford and the PSA group that builds Citroens and Peugeots and appears in the Peugeot 4007. It is well partnered with the silky six-speed automatic.

The diesel is quiet and has plenty of mid-range urge but is a bit sluggish off the line until the turbo kicks in. Performance is adequate rather than spectacular.  On paper the diesel's 118kW and 400Nm looks strong but it could do with more low-down urge. Even Hyundai's punchy 2.0-litre diesel in the ix35 delivers 135kW/392Nm.

The only downside, if you could call it that, is that fuel economy is not as good as some of the latest diesels.  However the Freelander does tip the scales at more than 1.7 tonnes so there is always going to be a small price to pay for its sturdy body, which also gets a five-star crash rating.

Score 81/100

The Bottom Line

When the going gets tough there's no better place to be than in a real off-roader but HSE pricing is on the high side.

Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 HSE

Price: $58,790
Engine:2.2-litre turbocharged four cylinder diesel
Power: 118kW at 4000 revs
Torque: 400Nm at 2000 revs
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, full-time Haldex four-wheel drive
Fuel Consumption: 8.5/100km combined
CO2 Emissions: 224g/km

Rivals

Audi Q5 2.0 TDI: 79/100 (from $60,500)
Volvo XC60 2.4 D5: 80/100 (from $58,950)
Peugeot 4007 2.2 HDI: 78/100 (from $44,490)

Pricing guides

$11,989
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,750
Highest Price
$14,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
TD4 e (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $8,800 – 12,320 2010 Land Rover Freelander 2 2010 TD4 e (4x4) Pricing and Specs
HSE (4X4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,660 – 15,620 2010 Land Rover Freelander 2 2010 HSE (4X4) Pricing and Specs
SE (4X4) 3.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,790 – 13,420 2010 Land Rover Freelander 2 2010 SE (4X4) Pricing and Specs
XS (4X4) 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,790 – 13,420 2010 Land Rover Freelander 2 2010 XS (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Neil McDonald
Contributing Journalist

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