The Freelander was completely re-engineered for the 2001 model year, when new engines, transmissions and numerous quality improvements were announced. Over 70 per cent of the vehicle was new. Since then, there have been further mechanical improvements, including improved fuel range (in petrol guise) thanks to a bigger tank capacity, and improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Revised windscreen wipers and rear seat latching are amongst the detail improvements for 2004.
There are three engines offered: the 2.5-litre quad-cam 24-valve V6, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel and the 1.8-litre all-aluminium twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol. The V6 and turbodiesel were both new when unveiled for the 2001 model year. Gearboxes comprise a five-speed electronically controlled automatic and a five-speed manual gearbox (depending on engine). The auto box has CommandShift manual control, for extra enjoyment, performance and off-road control.
As before, the Freelander comes in two body styles: three-door featuring a removable hardback or fold-up softback – unique in its class – and five-door.
Anti-lock brakes, power steering and a range of electronic traction controls are all standard. These include Land Rover’s patented and award-winning Hill Descent Control (HDC) that automatically moderates speed down the slipperiest slope, ensuring that the driver stays in control.
Electronic Traction Control (ETC) works in conjunction with the four-wheel drive. If a wheel should spin, the power is instantly diverted to the wheel that still has grip, helping the driver to move away.
The brakes are moderated by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), a computer-controlled system which ensures that braking is automatically applied to maximum effect. It helps cut stopping distances, boosting safety. Unlike many rivals, the Freelander’s 4x4 drive operates full-time. So all-wheel drive security is constantly there to help and protect, whenever the driver needs it.
Even the automatic gearbox naturally senses the conditions, modifying its gear change patterns on steep hills (‘mountain mode’) or going down precipitous drops (‘descent mode’). The long-articulation fully independent suspension is also much tougher than most rivals’ and gives superb stability on rough roads or tracks.
The Freelander excells at towing a boat or caravan – or anything else. It has so much dynamic capability that its two-tonne towing capacity is up to three times the level of certain 4x4 rivals.