UK Car Road Test

Land Rover Freelander TD4 ES 2003

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Cost New 22200    Residual @ 3 years 48%
Produced from  Oct 1 2000 to Feb 29 2004

 

Land Rover's infant 4x4. A small off road car for the school run and rugged navigation to the supermarket.


The Freelander has a very suspect name to match its status in the car market as it's not an all-out off roader; it's probably closer to an MPV with 4-wheel drive but with only 5 seats it's not really an MPV.  It's a true lifestyle vehicle which hits the appeal mark bang on.

For Land Rover, sales of this car have been extremely successful with the range of three and five door hardtop models and even a soft-top version (semi-soft top thingy, that is).

The engines have been very questionable with the under powered 1.8 petrol increasing to the 2.5 V6 complete with the myriad oil leaks that it suffers.
The diesel unit is by far the best; the older diesel engines were good but this road test was the TD4 with the same engine as the one used in Rover's 75 Diesel which is from the BMW stable and was excellent, supplying reasonable power and moderately light fuel consumption.

For a Land Rover, the Freelander is close on attractive. This one was in a dark metallic blue with grey trim to the bumpers, mirrors, wheel arches and grille. It carries the theme well as full colour coding would be too much and the paint would not adhere to the wheel arches if you were to actually use this car for off road driving.

The model tested was the ES which is also top of the Freelander range and comes with an awesome list of standard kit which includes five spoke alloy rims, full leather interior trim, roof rails and much more. 

The external appearance is simply a Freelander with metallic paint and nice alloys. Inside, however, is like the prestige section in Ikea. The seat finishing is detailed and high in quality, the steering wheel is leather coated with simple and effective switches operating the essentials in front of the driver.

Simple, effective and somewhat understated

The interior layout is very simple and understated with many features fitted to the ES model and all of the switch gear being well placed and uncomplicated.

The climb inside is moderate and the exit is not a small sky jump into the abyss

Seating is spacious and comfortable to enter and exit. This is because the floor pan height is thankfully moderate, making the interior accessible for parents, juniors and grandparents.

 

 

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Rear Load Cover
Rear Load Cover
Rear Wash Wipe
Rear Wash Wipe
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Multiplay CD
Multiplay CD
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Sunroof (electric)
Sunroof (electric)
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

 

 

Ooooohhhhh heated seats.

Bottle holder?

Anti slip storage tray.

A very basic-looking stereo.

 

 

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
12000 11 Not Available Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 110 1998 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
102mph 13.3seconds 73
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
29.6mpg 42.4mpg 37.2mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1525kg 2000kg 439cm 208cm 175cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
370 Litres 1311 Litres 5

 

The Freelander comes with many engine types and power outputs. The one tested is the TD4 common rail injected, offering 110bhp low emissions and relatively high power output.

Starting the engine is very simple - just turn the key and, hot or cold, the 4 cylinder diesel will clatter quietly into life and settle to around 700rpm. At this pace, the engine is pretty much unheard inside the car and if the interior fan or the radio was on, you would be hard pushed to notice itís a diesel at all.

Power delivery is very smooth, developing its peak power without any undue haste. 

The model tested had an automatic gearbox which made the car very subdued and slightly lacking in any urgency. That accepted, this is a 4x4 and so power is not what you buy one for. I would doubt its ability on a very steep hill climb when fully loaded (though Land Rover testers will often prove otherwise).

For general road use, the engine and gearbox smoothly coasted along without much ado. At speed on the motorway the Freelander cruises at 70mph with true refinement for an off roader.

Road noise is quite minimal and the size and shape does help with aerodynamics and wind noise. Top speed is not something to go into with any 4x4 except for the Porsche, Merc and BMW ranges and these cars are absolute gas guzzlers which are more adapted to normal road driving than off road.

The Freelander cannot compete with top speeds (but you can legally only do 70 anyway) but it can compete extremely well on its cost price and running costs. It can coast at speeds well in excess of our speed limits and getting to sixty does not take too long.

I must say that I would not have an auto as the manual is far more responsive and driver friendly, not to mention the problems that the auto boxes suffer. 
There is an option for switchable incline which affects the gearbox and differential for steep inclines and very heavy pulling but you do have to pay for this as an option.

BMW engine smoooothhhhh and graceful. 

TD4 common rail diesel fuel injection.

The differential is quite stark when cornering and actually stops the car unless plenty of throttle is used to prevent stalling.


If you got stuck in a field you would very much appreciate this design; going in and out of parking spaces or even attempting a three point turn is very annoying. 

Why do land Rover not fit a switchable diff lock? To save on costs and increase profit perhaps. Or maybe to remind the driver that they actually own an off road vehicle.

The Land Rover range has always been complimented and admired for it's off road capabilities. On the road, however, has not always been so good. The optimum off road assets somewhat compromise the road effects and vice versa. This baby 4X4 performs well on both but is not outstanding on either. Off road it does work reasonably well with a low centre of gravity and a reasonably short wheel base which allows moderate off road use. However, I would not enter one into the Paris to Dakar rally as it would take a long time to complete and I doubt its ability to finish without very serious modifications before the start.

On the road Land Rover's Freelander drives very well at low speeds and in a straight line but it gets rather uneasy when sent into a sharp deviation at any kind of speed. The centre of gravity may be low for off road use but is still rather high for speeding around roundabouts, which is definitely not one of its favourite manoeuvres.

Motorway driving and school runs are agreeable with this machine but why buy a 4x4 ('tis truly a cosmic question which perplexes most non-4x4 owners)?

Reminds me of a Skoda clock.

The braking is ample with the addition of ABS for the very unlikely event of going too fast under any circumstances. The ABS is a little quirky in that it shows a problem by staying illuminated until the car is driven to set the system which can be a little annoying as it displays a bright and obvious light in the drivers face even if you just want to park and listen to the stereo with the heater on.

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brake (front)
Disc Brake (front)
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Traction Control
Traction Control

 

 

Land Rover fit all of the modern features into its Freelander range. Most are standard with multiple airbags, safety features like pre-tensioned seat belts, etc.
The fact is, that unless you don't hit another 4x4 or telegraph pole, you are unlikely to come off very badly in the event of any moderate impact, as proven by a friend whose Freelander recently made mincemeat of a Renault Clio whilst sustaining only a couple of small scratches itself. In severe impact, air bags and alike do help but are not guaranteed safety features. Mathematical calculations will prove that they are better than nothing. However, it is difficult to get enough speed or madness to cause one of these cars to create such a problem in the first instance. Again, there must be insurance figures suggesting this.

On the up side, it's way too small and light to make a good ram raider and so loses its 4x4 attraction to at least one section of society.

Not exactly the height of  fashion.

 Minor styling effort

 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Deadlocks
Deadlocks
Drivers Airbag
Drivers Airbag
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

 

Generally, the Land Rover Freelander makes for a good buy; residual values are relatively high, the service costs in comparison to other 4x4s are very reasonable. That said, I went into my local Land Rover outlet recently with a problem and almost had a heart attack when I saw the special offer on 12,000 miles service for only £450.00 plus VAT.

They use parts which can be obtained (non-genuine) for approximately £70.00. I suppose the prestige of owning a Land Rover continues to its service booklet needing to boast a franchised stamp?

Insurance premiums are affordable, fuel costs are impressive with at least the diesel models, reliability is getting good (except with the auto gearboxes) and the build quality is comparable to a car.

This Dalek is watching you.

Sturdy roof rails.

Load capacity is adequate, some big estate cars would probably fit more but the loading height is nice - heavy or awkward objects can be entered or removed with ease.

The family library can be stowed in the roof lining for those long trips to the supermarket.

Carpet protection and load cover.

Are they map holders?

Which does the front?

Rugged door panel

When using the electric window switches I kept getting confused which was for the front. You do get used to it but I also considered them to be placed out of sight as they are behind you and between them was the handbrake. Why?

Land Rover used to suffer terrible oxidation to both its iron and aluminium panels but this isn't a problem now with its current ranges and the Freelander will continue to look good throughout the years.


 

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UK Car Road Test Land Rover Freelander TD4 ES 2003

UK Car Road Test Keywords: 4*4 Estate DieselFreelander TD4 ES