2013 Land Rover Freelander 2 review
By Bob Hume, 05th February 2013
The Freelander has come a long way since its introduction in 1997. It came at a time when the compact SUV market was in its infancy but a combination of modern design and capability meant that it quickly became the growing segment’s best seller in Europe.
This segment is now more complicated than it has ever been and has been fragmented into niche-inventing ‘crossovers’, ‘urban SUVs’ and downright pretend 4x4s, with a dwindling number of ‘proper’ off-road SUVs. The Freelander 2 sits resolutely in the latter bracket and remains a popular choice.
It not only has the clout of the Land Rover badge and its history of bringing us the finest off-road vehicles in the world but it can also handle itself when the tarmac runs out.
Land Rover has updated the Freelander 2 for 2013, adding new styling, LED headlights, dashboard and new equipment. The engine is pretty fresh, having been revamped less than two years ago, a 2.2-litre diesel, available in two power outputs: 188 or 148bhp. The lower powered variant is also available in two-wheel drive only.
I was offered a Freelander for a test drive by Michael Henry from Charles Hurst Land Rover and the loan neatly coincided with the blizzard conditions that hit Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago. I live in an exposed farmhouse at the end of a half-mile lane, 800 feet above the East Antrim coast, so I didn’t get the least of the bad weather.
The test car was the flagship SD4, powered by the 188bhp unit and matched to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. One of the changes is to the Terrain Response drive system, which has been further improved and is now standard on all four-wheel drive options. The controls for the system have also been tidied up and selection is now by means of some neat switches in the centre console, instead of a dial.
My 4x4 (it shall remain nameless), failed miserably in the huge drifts but the Freelander simply rode over ice and through the deep snow. A bit later on in the week, when the snow had compacted into thick ice and the various things that farmers insist on travelling about in had created massive ruts, the Freelander still powered over everything.
I was hugely impressed by the way it handled heavily tracked snow on a hilly lane. The suspension was particularly impressive on rougher terrain, absorbing the worst of the ruts with astonishing ease.
Under normal driving conditions, the car was undeniably comfortable. Performance is confidence-inspiring and handling is as adept as many prestige saloons. The cabin is quiet, expansive and generally very pleasant. The driving position is reassuringly high and upright in seats that are as cossetting as armchairs.
Other changes to the interior include a more modern touch-screen colour display and a general tidying of instruments and dials. The steering wheel-mounted switches are pretty comprehensive in function and everything that you need falls easily within reach. All of the surfaces are of excellent quality.
The updates that have graced the 2013 Freelander 2 are not merely cosmetic and have placed it even further ahead of its rivals. It’s still the best in this segment at almost everything but it now has a cabin that its competitors can’t even get close to.
A chat with Michael at Charles Hurst Land Rover, revealed that there is a healthy interest in the new car already. My advice is to get a drive in one before considering the competition.
Our thanks to Michael Henry from Charles Hurst Land Rover for arranging the loan.
Charles Hurst Land Rover
Hurst Auto Complex
62 Boucher Road
Tel: 028 9038 3435
Visit the website by clicking this link: www.charleshurst.landrover.co.uk