For some time the Car Showroom team has been hugely impressed by the products emerging from the ‘new’ Land Rover-Jaguar conglomerate and the latest Land Rover Freelander 2 is a fine example. Add other vehicles like the Range Rover lineup, Jaguar XF and the jaw-droppingly beautiful Jaguar XJ…well the overall picture is brilliant.
Against rival German luxury mid-size SUVs, the Land Rover Freelander 2 stands-out due to its ‘British-ness’ and all-round competency (particularly off-road). New for 2011, Land Rover Freelander 2 scores significantly improved turbo-diesel engines.
Land Rover Freelander 2 Overview
Car Showroom has just enjoyed two weeks in two 2011 Land Rover Freelander 2s – the entry-level TD4 XS and range-topping SD4 HSE. With prices starting from $$44,990, the Land Rover Freelander 2, compares very favourably against European rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 (both start at $62,200) and certainly challenges the value of higher grade models of Toyota’s RAV and Nissan’s X-TRAIL and Murano (of those three only the X-TRAIL offers a diesel).
Freelander has been a hot seller for Land Rover – in March the 250,000th Land Rover Freelander rolled-off the company’s assembly line at Halewood in England’s Merseyside district.
Why do we rate the Land Rover Freelander 2 so highly? Well Range Rover is the world’s most awarded SUV and the Freelander 2 is a compact Rangie.
Apart from the new turbo-diesel powerplants, 2011 changes for the Land Rover Freelander 2 include exterior and interior styling upgrades – in both departments very ‘Range Rover-ish’. In fact many interior trim and switchgear items seem to have just morphed straight from the larger Range Rover (starting price $99,000) into the Land Rover Freelander 2 – enhancing its quality feel and value proposition.
Combine all of these factors and its sharp price – well the Land Rover Freelander 2 adds-up to a standout compact SUV (at least until the all-new dedicated compact Range Rover Evoque arrives).
Land Rover Freelander 2 The Engine
Land Rover has delivered major improvements to its 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine as part of the 2011 update. We tested both the 110kW TD4 version and the 140kW SD4. Both deliver an extra 20Nm of torque – now up to 420Nm.
Included in the under-bonnet overhaul for the diesel is a water-cooled variable geometry turbocharger and kinetic energy recovery system which provides battery charge. Land Rover Freelander 2 can now run on 10 per cent biodiesel fuel (only five per cent for the previous model).
Extra noise insulation has made a noticeable improvement in refinement at all engine speeds in the latest Land Rover Freelander 2.
In the Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4, the new diesel accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 11.7 seconds (six-speed automatic as tested) or 11.2 seconds with the six-speed manual. The extra grunt of the SD4 sees that time reduced to 9.5 seconds.
Fuel consumption is as low as 6.6l/100kms – helped by standard auto stop/start.
For the 3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, recalibration work focused on EU5 emissions standards and power/torque remains unchanged at 171kW/317Nm.
Land Rover Freelander automatics use a second generation Asin six-speed transmission while the specially-developed Getrag six-speed manual is retained.
Land Rover Freelander 2 The Interior
Our two Land Rover Freelander 2 test cars were the mid-specification XS and range-topping HSE – the latter featuring beautiful Windsor leather seats although there are new seats trim materials across the range.
We liked the gloriously trimmed dashboard and the revised instrument cluster – now much easier to read – and the Range Rover style switchgear reminds you this is a British SUV.
You sit high in the Land Rover Freelander 2 (again it’s a Range Rover thing – they call it ‘The Command Driving Position’) and combined with electronic seat adjustment and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel…well the Freelander is comfortable, just like a ‘Rangie’, and a clearly different feel to rival vehicles.
Rear seat accommodation is similarly high-mounted and there is excellent leg-room for a mid-size SUV. Luggage space is on par with others in this segment.
Land Rover Freelander 2 Exterior & Styling
Styling changes for the 2011 model year bring a more Range Rover look for the Land Rover Freelander 2 – delivering a more substantial on-road presence.
At the front there is a new bumper with new fog light bezels and a new grille (dark finish for the TD4, bright finish for SD4 and petrol models). Headlights have switched to Halogen projector units.
Wheels are new design 18-inch or 19-inch alloys and combine with other trim changes to really freshen the overall look.
Land Rover Freelander 2 On The Road
Launch of the Land Rover Discovery 4 and latest Range Rover models heralded a seismic shift in on-road dynamics for the British icons. Perhaps with one eye on rivals like Mercedes-Benz ML and BMW X5, the whole Land Rover-Rangie conglomerate shifted up a gear and delivered best-in-class performance (we still recall driving the new models at massive speeds around the twists and curves of the Scottish highlands during the international media launch).
Ditto the Land Rover Freelander 2. If you haven’t driven one for a while you’ll be staggered by the improvements in ride quality, steering feel, chassis balance and grip.
At warp speeds or on a racetrack you’d still back the X5 and ML, but in most normal road-going situations, the Land Rover Freelander 2 is a sharp act.
Sure the extra 20kWs of the SD4 are appreciated but really both versions have more than enough engine for all drivers. And that Aisin six-speed automatic is one of the best going around – almost imperceptible shifts up and down the range.
Around town, Land Rover Freelander 2 provides ease of operation appreciated by first-time SUV buyers and mums. At 4500mm overall length and with a handy 11.3-metre turning circle, city car parks are no problem.
Land Rover Freelander 2 Challenges
Let’s be clear, with the 2011 styling changes, the latest Land Rover Freelander 2 looks more like a Range Rover than ever before – and that’s a good thing. But there’s no denying the current Freelander isn’t the freshest design on the block.
And how will it compare when the magnificently styled Range Rover Evoque arrives?
Land Rover Freelander 2 Verdict
Overall, we’re huge fans of the Land Rover Freelander 2 – we ‘get it’ (that is it’s a compact Range Rover). High-tech, superb off-road, good enough on-road, practical and boasting a stylish interior with the Range Rover imprimatur wherever you look, the Land Rover Freelander 2 is quite a bargain when shopped against its German rivals
Land Rover Freelander 2 The Competition
Premium European compact SUVs – probably the Land Rover Freelander 2 genuinely squares off against Audi Q5 and BMW X3. But you could consider Volkswagen Tiguan and, from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean the Jeep range.
Against that lot, apart from its value-for-money proposition, Land Rover Freelander 2 delivers unique, British, ‘Range Rover-ish’ styling and interior appointments plus best-in-class off-road agility.