Land Rover Freelander 2wd car review
- Price£31,995 (estimated)
- We like...Classy, smooth and quiet
- We don't...Pricey; no auto gearbox for 2wd
This is a Land Rover for sure. But it’s not like any that’s gone before. Every one has, until now, had four-wheel drive. Having power at every corner means you could venture confidently where two-wheel drivers just couldn’t go.
But now, as a first, you’ll be able to buy a Freelander that sends power to just its front wheels. It’s a drastic move, for sure, and one that the brand’s been pushed to in the quest for better fuel economy and more environmentally acceptable – and wallet-friendly – CO2 emissions.
A new 2.2-litre 148bhp diesel motor, teamed with a six-speed manual shifter and a fuel-saving stop-start mechanism helps the car achieve up to 47.1mpg overall and 158g/km. Those are the best figures any Land Rover has achieved. And keeping below 160g/km, at time of writing, earns this model serious tax benefits for company car users and cheaper road tax for company car users.
Shedding the drive mechanism for the rear wheels, the Terrain Response system and the Hill Descent control all helps the 2wd Freelander tip the scales at 75kg below 4wd models – that’s as heavy as a healthy grown-up and helps, too towards the car’s economy and low emissions. It’ll also be £1000 cheaper than equivalent 4x4 range-mates.
It means that the Freelander has joined the ever-growing band of cars that have the off-roading looks and the attitude but don’t promise go-anywhere ability.
That’s fine. After all, only a tiny number of the thousands of 4x4s purchased get used to the full. Then again, it’ll be pretty embarrassing if your Freelander’s strands you come winter’s first snow.
While we can promise nothing, having driven the 2wd on a Land Rover off-road course, we can say that it’ll do well. Ruts and bumps are dealt with as well as they would be in the 4x4 because ground clearance and underbody protection is identical. Crossing standing water is possible, too. The engine and major components are waterproofed and, as long as it can grip, the car will wade through the wet stuff at a depth of up to 0.5 metres.
Show it a muddy hill, though, and the car will struggle. Skill, a good run-up and brutal use of the throttle should win through. Take a similarly powered all-wheel-driver that has an auto gearbox over the same terrain and it’ll cover the ground first go and without fuss.
For 2011, all Freelanders get minor design tweaks inside and out and a bigger choice of trim and paint colours. To our eyes, it’s the best looking and classiest car of its type. All this comes at a price and while 2011 prices haven’t yet published, we expect they’ll remain higher than most.
But for that you do get a superbly refined, comfortable and quiet companion although both of the two 148bhp engines are quieter and smoother than the SD4, which packs 187bhp.
In the 2wd Freelander, cruising at the motorway maximum sees no more than faint hum from the diesel, joined by a little wind noise from across the screen and around the door mirrors. The cabin’s nicely finished and comfortable. It’s not the biggest inside of its type, however and is beaten for cabin and load space Honda’s CR-V.
Should you buy one? The 2wd’s lower price and superior fuel economy are positives. And only those who really know Freelanders will realise by looking that yours is different. For us, however, the 4x4 is original – and best.
- Engines2.2-litre diesel
- 0-60 mph10.9secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: