The Land Rover Freelander was a compact crossover SUV available from 1998 to 2015 model years. It was replaced with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque.
Land Rover Freelander Design and Introduction
In the late 1980s, Land Rover began development of a smaller SUV that would be more popular than its off-road specific and larger counterparts. After changes in management put the project on the back burner for some years, it finally hit the production lines in late 1997 and quickly became the biggest-selling four-wheel drive model in Europe for five consecutive years. Oddly enough, even though the Freelander was marketed as a smaller alternative to the Range Rover, its wheelbase was actually one inch (about 2.5 cm) longer than the Range Rover’s. But the small 3-door convertible and 5-door crossover SUV designs were still much more practical, as were the rest of the construction methods.
Engine and Performance
Four different engines were available for the first generation Land Rover Freelander. These included the 1.8L inline-4 Rover K-Series gasoline engine, the 2.0L inline-4 Rover L-Series diesel, and after 2001, included a 2.0L inline-4 BMW M47 diesel and a 2.5L V6 Rover KV6 gasoline engine. Most transmissions were manual, although the automatic Tiptronic transmission became more popular in later years. While still maintaining some of Land Rover’s off-road specifications, the Freelander faced some compromises to allow for a lower price range and more economical unit. This included ditching the two-speed transfer gearbox, leaving four-wheel low mode behind, and it also dropped the locking differential capability found on other Land Rover models, which also happens to be one of the most important for serious off-road use. However, Land Rover didn’t leave the Freelander without some advancements to make up for these dropped components. Instead, it added Intermediate Reduction Drive (IRD) which acted as a front differential and viscous-coupling to allow for varying torque. The Land Rover Freelander did include the Hill Descent Control system, Traction Control System, and a specialized version of anti-lock brakes to assist in off-road driving conditions.
Second Generation Freelander
In 2006, a new second generation Freelander 2 was introduced, internal designated as the L359. It made its first debut at the 2006 British International Motor Show. The Freelander 2 was built on the Ford EUCD platform, a unibody system shared with many Ford and Volvo sedans. It features a transverse mounted 3.2L straight-6 Volvo SI6 engine with 233 PS, in addition to many Ford engine options such as the 2.0L inline-4 gasoline with 243 PS, and a lineup of 2.2L diesel options with up to 190 PS. The transmission was either a 6-speed Getrag manual or a 6-speed Aisin automatic.
Features and Available Options
This generation separated itself even farther from the off-road focus of the past Land Rovers and instead provided additional interior appointments and safety features. At the same time, it still improved its off-road performance through the Terrain Response off-road system to assist with loss of traction. Inside, the Freelander 2 had an Alpine 14-speaker stereo system with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with later models including a Meridian 17-speaker system with subwoofers and audio tuning. An optional cold climate system included a heated windshield, windshield washers, and front seats. The sales of the Freelander were relatively stable throughout the second generation years, with around 50,000 units being produced annually. However, Land Rover found the Freelander name to be tainted with a lack of reliability and off-road ruggedness, leading to its change to the Land Rover Discovery Sport in future years.