The Freelander was introduced in 1997, had a face-lift in 2003 and was replaced by the Freelander 2 in 2006. This was the first time that Land Rover had tried to make a car-like vehicle with off-road abilities and it was also the first vehicle that Land Rover had designed that wasn’t built on a chassis.
Available in two- and four-door bodies, all Freelanders of the same generation are actually the same size - 101” wheelbase for Series 1, 104.7” for the Series 2. Being designed more as a car, the Freelander does not have the same complex mechanical transmission used in most other Land Rover products, instead utilising a lot of electronic controls and driving aids. This reliance on black box technology does allow a Freelander to punch well above its weight in terms of ability in relation to its size, but may yet prove to be its life-limiting factor.
The Freelander 2 is based on the Ford EUCD platform (which is also used as the base for the Range Rover Evoque) and uses a Volvo 3.2 straight-six engine or a PSA Peugeot Citroën 2.2 Diesel.
The Freelander went out of production in 2014. In any guise, the Freelander packs a surprising amount of punch and off-road ability - don’t be fooled by the softer, more rounded lines of the earlier models, which are now old enough to start becoming regarded as classics in their own right. The earlier 1.8 petrol K-Series engines were very prone to head gasket failures; Land Rover latterly devised an upgraded head gasket kit to provide a lasting repair to the problem (something a lot of Rover saloons could have benefited from having). The 2.5 V6 has proved to be reliable, lively but thirsty. The downfall of many V6 Freelanders has been the high cost of routine timing belt replacement - the cost representing an untenable proportion of the vehicle’s residual value. But if you were to find one for which that job had been done then it’s a rewarding experience to drive. The diesel version has proved to be the most popular; it's not short on power, doesn't need excessive maintenance and offers what many would consider an acceptable degree of fuel economy.