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Is this first front-wheel drive model worthy of the Land Rover badge?

Our Verdict

Land Rover Freelander

The Land Rover Freelander is classy and comfortable, but potentially pricey

3 November 2010
Land Rover Freelander eD4

What is it?

This is the new two-wheel drive Land Rover Freelander eD4. Under pressure to meet the demand for cleaner, Euro-5 compliant cars, the famous 4x4 marque has had to think the unthinkable and develop a two-wheel drive powertrain for its compact SUV.

Despite Land Rover’s all-wheel drive heritage it’s important for Land Rover to compete in the ever-increasing two-wheel drive SUV market. So, with no heavy AWD system and an improved stop-start and more efficient 2.2-litre engine the new eD4 manages to gets its CO2 figure down to a respectable 158g/km and 47.2mpg.

See the test pics of the Land Rover Freelander eD4

What’s it like?

The big question for fans of the marque is does it still merit a Land Rover badge (which incidentally is now circled in silver rather than gold) on the front? At the Land Rover Experience off-road driving course at Les Comes, Barcelona, I drove both this new front-wheel drive Freelander back to back with the latest 187bhp SD4 HSE auto all-wheel drive model.

This is the top-spec car (beneath this model sit the less powerful TD4 and eD4) and equipped with its Terrain Response and Hill Descent Control tackled terrain such as rocky and uneven tracks, steep inclines, ruts, ditches, extreme ascents and descents with aplomb, as you would expect from one of the most capable 4x4s on the market.

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Then it was time to hit the rough stuff in the most fuel-efficient car that Land Rover has ever made. Admittedly the 2WD SUV needed much more coaxing, and occasionally it lost traction, but the lighter car still has an abundant 310lb ft (15lb ft more than the outgoing model) of torque, all of which helped the front-wheel drive car even plough through the water obstacle without missing a beat. The eD4 is still very much a Land Rover and has the same underbody protection, sump guard and great ground clearance as the 4WD model.

Of course, for the vast majority of buyers in the compact SUV market, such information is of little interest, as few cars ever make it that far off tarmac. Of more importance will be that the new eD4 manages 47.2mpg and only emits 158g/km of CO2.

The Freelander’s improved stop-start system helps contribute to this figure, and thanks to a bi-directional crank sensor and trigger wheel the system is able to establish the crankshaft position quicker, helping the car’s engine fire-up with 30 per cent better efficiency.

On the outside changes to the 2011 are pretty subtle. A new front bumper assembly gives the car a more planted look, and there’s a new front grille, too, which is available in either a dark or light finish. Headlamps are improved while the rear lights have a clear inner lens.

Inside not much has changed, there’s some new fascia finishes which help improve the cabin’s premium feel, but there’s still an expanse of hard plastics and much of the switchgear has a utilitarian feel to it.

On the road, the new engine’s Improved economy hasn’t affected performance, though, as the entry-level engine’s 0-60mph time remains at 10.9 seconds and on our short test drive the front-drive car handled and rode well on the Spanish roads. Steering was accurate and well balanced, but it still feels noisy at motorway speeds and its grip doesn’t seem diminished by only having front-wheel power; at lower speeds the 2WD seemed quicker to turn in.

Should I buy one?

Times are changing, Minis are no longer mini and come with all-wheel drive, while Land Rovers are fuel efficient but with only two-wheel power. It’s a confusing market place, and the new Freelander has lots of rivals.

An HSE trim eD4 will mean it has to compete with the X3, but BMW manages to make its all-wheel drive xDrive20d SE produce less CO2 and perform better at the pumps than the 2WD Land Rover.

A more entry-level Freelander has it competing with a 2WD Ford Kuga, or even the well-equipped and budget-priced Kia Sportage. But for some buyers it’s the Land Rover badge that they want on the front of their SUV, and in the eD4 the marque’s engineers still have an off-road car they can be proud of.

Gary Lord

Land Rover Freelander 2.2 eD4 150 HSE 2WD

Price: from £22,000; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.9sec; Economy: 47.2mpg; CO2: 158g/km; Kerb weight: 1710kg; Engine type: 4 cyls, 2179cc , turbodiesel; Power: 148bhp; Torque: 310lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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Join the debate


5 November 2010

I would suggest that to 99% of its market AWD or 2WD will make precisely zero difference. Having said that it sounds remarkably capable for a 2WD

5 November 2010

The model makes a lot of sense, the 4x4 running gear in a majority of the SUV is both a waste of money and efficiency. Only issue is if this proves successful how far would Land Rover go?!!

5 November 2010

The fashion for four wheel drive cars that never go off road can't last forever. Land Rover has to ease itself gently into making something else.

Presumably the strategy is for the company to slowly lose the off-road capability until one day it's got a range of nice executive saloons. Then they can drop the word Land. They've just got to wait until everyone's forgotten the 'Rovers' that once came out of Longbridge and Cowley.

5 November 2010

Interesting that they brought you to nice sunny spain to try this out. Whats wrong with a test in the UK, could it be that that in the dry it has abundant traction like any 2wd car but show it a muddy field and and it will be as hopeless as any 2wd, obviously Land Rover didn't want the jounalists reporting this


5 November 2010

"Admittedly the 2WD SUV needed much more coaxing, and occasionally it lost traction, but the lighter car still has an abundant 310lb ft (15lb ft more than the outgoing model) of torque, all of which helped the front-wheel drive car even plough through the water obstacle without missing a beat."

Since when did abundant torque help traction? Another Autocar report skewed by shoddy journalism. If this vehicle hadn't been wearing the Land Rover badge it would have been shredded. Amazing what people will write these days for a free holiday in Spain...

5 November 2010

I must agree, it does have the hallmarks of write a good news story regardless of what would be written about a 2WD competitor. Much is made of these vehicles never going off road and that is true, the vast majority don't go further than a snowy / sodden road or a wet field .... presicely the type of surfaces where 2WD is totally screwed. A 2WD car can make quite a fist of dry off road surfaces, only going up hill without a long run up or a water / mud hazard would cause problems.

A flawed test, a flawed write up and a shameful butt kiss to JLR. Just admit that it is just as crap as all the other 2WD soft roaders off road in real world conditions (i.e. we live in the UK, we care about it's relevance to the UK thanks) and better on road than it's 4WD sister because it is lighter.


5 November 2010

Poor suck up to LRJ article, let's launch a 2WD Landrover in sunny Spain so journalists who look no further than the press pack can report it goes okay in the (dry) rough stuff and then continue with the free hospitality. Why not a UK launch on a wet grassy incline? Because it'd be useless compared to a 4WD model and Landrover don't wan't that in print do they? Can't wait to see my 1st 2WD Freelander stuck in snow. The only point of realism in the article is that BMW achieve better figures with a more powerful X3 which retains it's 4WD system. As a car it's a flawed product but I can understand why Landrover feel the need it market it, what would people buy who want a practical 2WD, 5 seater with a slightly higher driving position?

5 November 2010

Surely the simple fix is to apply a diff lock to the front diff that you could activate at very low speeds, that would give it plenty of off road capability and deal with the muddy field. most of the time it would be switched off, incidentally this option if developed could be added to any car. Used to have a 2wd Quad bike which had this option, when towing in the mud it made a massive difference.

5 November 2010

How funny. If we have a winter like the last one, I can't wait to see this model given another test drive - despite its skid plates and whatever its going to be about as effective as a Mondeo.

We get the usual 4x4 haters who pipe up with no one needs it but some of us provide vital services and need to go all over the place whatever the weather, and not just cleared main routes so I would rather have it.

As a 2 wheel drive 'car' the Freelander is poorly packaged, its bulky but not very spacious or big booted, comfortable but a bit roly poly. I can't see why anyone would want this when you can have as much and more in a 20 year more modern looking, better made, Volvo XC60

5 November 2010

[quote Pye]As a car it's a flawed product but I can understand why Landrover feel the need it market it, what would people buy who want a practical 2WD, 5 seater with a slightly higher driving position?[/quote]

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 2WD.

Slightly better CO2 and fuel consumption but noticeably faster and lighter. And cheaper.

This 2WD Freelander will be better in tricky on-road conditions than other 2WD cars if it keeps its winter-biased tyres from the 4WD. If not, what's the point?


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