Road Tests

Handbook: 2013 Land Rover Freelander

Time 11:08 am, January 30, 2013

LAND ROVER has given its premium compact SUV a nip and tuck for 2013. James Baggott has driven it.

What is it?

Land Rover’s perennial compact SUV has been given a little wipe over with the flannel to freshen it up. The changes aren’t huge inside or out but they’re enough to give it a new lease of life. Some smart new headlights, new rear tail-lights that look like dumpy red snowmen, and a more striking grille are the talking points outside. Inside it’s had more attention with an Evoque-ess makeover.

What’s under the bonnet?

There are two diesel units – both 2.2-litres but with different power outputs: 147bhp and 187bhp, they both offer four-wheel drive. There’s also a 148bhp version in two-wheel drive form, but quite why you’d opt for that we have no idea apart from its lower CO2 emissions. We tried a brilliant 2.0-litre petrol engine, too, on our road test in Canada but sadly this won’t be coming to the UK. In fact, it was actually our pick of the bunch.

What’s the spec like?

It’s inside where the manufacturer has really gone to work. The centre console is new and the old Terrain Response dial has been swapped for buttons from the Evoque. A new instrument cluster has been installed which has a five-inch display that offers the important details. It’s now got keyless go, a brilliant hitch assist that helps drivers line up their tow bar and clever voice activation. There are three new colours to choose from paintwise and the stereo system provided by Meridian is nothing short of extravagant.

What’s it like to drive?

If you were hoping for a whole new car, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This revision is a nip and tuck at best, bringing its styling into line with the other, newer models in the range. However, there’s no denying that the Freelander is extremely capable off-road – some of the terrain we tackled on the launch was positively frightening and it sailed through it.

What do the press think?

Autocar said: ‘It’s still competent’ but warned customers should not get ‘carried away with the spec’ as ‘the top-spec HSE Lux trim is hugely expensive at £39,805. You can get the most expensive five-door Evoque for that and have £1,500 change left over.’

What do we think?

The revisions inside bring the Freelander up to date but we’d rather hoped they’d have done more with the exterior. The new lights are striking but nowhere near as bold as its sister cars, which is a shame. However, its capability off-road can’t be doubted and despite its age we still think it’s a rugged alternative to some often rather boring German offerings. Worth a look for the pony-pulling set.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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