This compact SUV, with its permanent all-wheel drive system, is designed for smooth, comfortable driving on both paved streets and dirt roads without the need to adjust from two-wheel drive (2WD) to four-wheel drive (4WD) and vice versa. When it comes to urban driving and off-roading, the Land Rover Freelander truly offers the best of both worlds. Although it was launched in 1997 and became Europe's top-selling 4WD for years, it only came to the United States in 2002. Since then, this popular and versatile SUV has undergone a number of changes.
2002: The Land Rover Freelander comes to America
The first new Land Rover to hit the United States since 1995, the 2002 Freelander instantly charmed with its go-anywhere drivability. All trims were equipped with anti-lock brake systems, traction control, and Hill Descent Control (allows for a more relaxing, controlled hill descent without having to touch the brake pedal). Each was also powered by a quiet 2.5L V6 engine capable of 175 horsepower and 177 ft.-lbs. of torque. With the Land Rover Freelander's permanent all-wheel drive system and five-speed BMW Steptronic automatic transmission, a driver can traverse different types of terrain by just pushing the gas pedal like nobody's business. The cherry on top of this off-road offering was the rear-mounted spare tire that came with each trim.
2003-2005: Constant improvements, inside and out
In the following years, the Land Rover Freelander was tweaked and accessorized to improve drive quality. Changes over the years include a larger fuel tank, a reworked climate control system, body-side moldings for protection against scrapes, a recalibrated automatic transmission that has smoother shifting, and an array of new equipment like fog lights and a power sunroof.
2008-present: Return of the Rover
After a three-year hiatus, the Freelander banks on America's love for sequels by returning as the Land Rover Freelander 2 (also known as the Land Rover LR2). Moving up as a luxury-class, car-based SUV, the Freelander 2 retains its versatility while vastly improving ride comfort and performance. It now has a 6-speed automatic transmission and a new 3.2L inline six-cylinder engine with a higher maximum output of 230 horsepower and 234 ft.-lbs. of torque. Off-roading is improved with an added 8.3 inches of ground clearance, an improved all-wheel drive system, and new features like Land Rover's special Terrain Response system, brake assist, and stability control with a rollover sensor. The side airbags that were missing from the earlier models were also added. Fuel economy is also improved with a higher range of 15-22 mpg.