Buying Guide: Freelander 2

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12 August 2022
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: credit: © JLR
Often referred to as 'Mr Reliable', Freelander 2 has a reputation for being the least troublesome Land Rover ever built, but is it right for you?

At a glance

Versatility: 5 out of 5 stars   
Economy:
5 stars
Depreciation: 4 stars
On-road: 4 stars
Off-road: 3 stars
Towing: 4 stars
Ease of servicing: 4 stars

SPECS
• Wheelbase:
104.7in (2659 mm)
• Length: 177.2 in (4501 mm)
• Width: 75.2 in (1910mm)
• Kerb weight: 3902-4300 lb (1770-1950kg)

 

Many folk see the original Freelander 1 of 1997 as the vehicle that turned Land Rover mainstream by producing a monocoque soft-roader that was family-friendly and sold in huge numbers to people who had never before considered buying a Land Rover. All that is true, but here at LRM we’d argue that its replacement in 2007, the Freelander 2, was every bit as much a breakthrough vehicle – and perhaps more so.

Freelander 2 (known as the LR2 in North America and the Middle East – and the L359 to aficianados) was certainly a much more capable vehicle than its predecessor and certainly a more competent off-road performer. It was also more reliable and, if anyone ever drew up a list of Land Rover models that hardly ever go wrong, this vehicle would be top of the list.

When new, the Freelander 2 was seen as the perfect entry-level Land Rover. Today, more than six years after it went out of production, it still is. If you’re reading this because you’re looking to buy one, we congratulate you on your wise choice – and hope this helps you find your dream Land Rover. It should also prevent you ending up with a troublesome nightmare.

It is a tradition at the time of Land Rover launches for the new model to be controversial. It’s a tradition that dates way back to 1958, when the new-fangled Series II upset some enthusiasts because it had been treated to a bit of styling and given rounded corners compared to its very austere predecessor. Diehards tend to be against change, whether for good or ill, hence they sneered at the advent of coil-springs in the 1970 Range Rover, the Series III’s plastic grille (1971) and Discovery’s Conran interior (1989). Freelander 1 (1997) wasn’t considered a “proper Land Rover” because it was a monocoque rather than Land Rover’s usual body-on-frame construction.

But surely there was nothing controversial about Freelander 2? Wrong!

Land Rover fans were shocked in 2006 by the announcement from owners Ford to that they had decided to build the new model at Halewood on Merseyside, alongside the Jaguar X-type, instead of Land Rover’s spiritual home at Solihull in the West Midlands. It was seen by some as warning shot from the owners to the argumentative unions at Solihull, but in truth it freed up much-needed space at the crowded Lode Lane plant, for the raft of new models in the pipeline.

It was a fast-moving world and Land Rover had to keep up. By the time it went of production in 2015, Freelander 2 was also being assembled at Pune (India), Chgangsu (China) and Aqaba (Jordan) – and it had new owners: Tata of India.

Freelander 1 had come in three- and five-door versions, as well as a soft-top option. Freelander 2 was available in five-door only. It was based on the Ford EUCD (it stands for European Class D) platform, which it shared with Ford’s Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max models, as well as ten Volvo saloons and, crucially, the X-Type Jag. You can see why it made so much sense to build it at Halewood, where the production line could switch from Freelander to Jaguar, at the touch of a button.

Freelander 2’s motive power also came from Ford, with 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost 243 PS and 3.2-litre Ford SI6 233PS petrol engines. But the vast majority of owners in the UK of course went for the more frugal 2.2-litre Ford Duratorq diesel.

It was available with six-speed manual or automatic transmission and was built on a modified version of Ford’s front-wheel-drive platform. The good news for off-road fans was that it boasted higher ground clearance than its predecessor and, thanks to traction control and a simlified Terrain Response system (optional), it came closer to the all-terrain capabilities of other Land Rover models.

Freelander 2 interior doesn't look dated

There were interior improvements a-plenty, including Alpine 440-watt 14-speaker surround sound audio and seven-inch touch navigation screen options, while well-equipped later models got the Meridian audio system, with a surround sound 17-speaker system with Trifield technology, producing 825 watts.

Later models also got a five-inch colour display screen as standard, even at entry-level, while an optional cold climate package included heated front windscreen, heated front seats with two heating levels and heated windscreen washers. Later lighting options included bi-xenon headlights, adaptive front-lighting, memory for the driver seat, as well as exterior mirrors and approach and
puddle lamps.

Dash is functional and well laid out

All this means that later models were the best-appointed – and therefore something to look for if you appreciate those luxury touches. But remember that the more technology that’s included, the more potential there is for stuff to go wrong in later years. It’s a familiar conundrum for owners of most post-2000 Land Rovers, but compared to the sheer amount of electronics squeezed into millennial Range Rovers, for example, the Freelander 2 is a relatively simple vehicle and, if you are mechanically-inclined, much more home servicing is possible.

If you want a reliable and economical Land Rover that looks as good today as it did when it was launched in 2006, look no further than the underestimated Freelander 2. They seldom go wrong, are very frugal and have held their values well.

It’s better off-road and more versatile than its predecessor, with a decent towing capacity (2000 kg) and generous seating room for passengers or stowage, with the rear seats folded flat. It’s also a nifty performer on tarmac, thanks to those responsive diesel engines (Td4 = 150 bhp / 295 lb-ft) and fun to drive.

It’s too early to describe this car as a classic, but as modern models get ever-more complicated, this expression of automotive simplicity may one day become a coveted example of old-school SUVS. For now, as an entry-level model to the world of Land Rovers, Freelander 2 is hard
to beat.

What to look for

Td4 version performs well off-road and is comfortable wading

Freelander 2 was noted for not going wrong, although problems are always more likely as they get older.

Wheel bearings can get noisy as they reach the end of their lives, but replacements aren’t prohibitively expensive. If the noise gets louder as you corner, it’s a wheel bearing on its way out; if not it could be a worn pinion bearing in the rear diff…

All Freelanders are mainly front-wheel-drive cars, in which the rear wheels only drive when the fronts lose grip. This was achieved by a viscous coupling in Freelander 1, which was prone to failure, compared to the much more reliable electronically-controlled and hydraulically-operated coupling to the rear diff on Freelander 2. To avoid premature failure of that diff, it is recommended that you fit identical manufacturer’s tyres to the rear wheels, with the same pressure and about the same amount of tread.

From 2011, the Freelander 2 was available as the eD4, which was purely a two-wheel drive version, which saved 165lb and improved frugality to over 40mpg by dispensing with the four-wheel-drive system.

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As always, ask to see the service history. The Td4 engine may have a reputation for being bulletproof, but not if it’s been neglected – for which there is no excuse, by the way, as this model is fitted with a service light on the dash to remind errant owners.

Also, check that everything electric works as it should. Try every switch. The more electric stuff fitted, the harder it is to trace the problem and put it right.

The Freelander 2 is about as rust-free as any Land Rover gets, but check out stone chips, as water that gets under the paint will cause corrosion.

Buying and values

Low ground clearance  compared to other models means you need to take care on very uneven surfaces

Because Freelander 2 was Europe’s best-selling 4x4, you will have plenty of models to choose from, so don’t let any over-eager sellers talk you into the first one you check out.

Sales were steady throughout its production run, with its highest sales figures in its final full years in production - 2013 (57,691) and 2014 (56,622). That means there are plenty of those very-well-equipped late models available, if you have decided that your motoring life is incomplete without 17-speaker surround sound.

Prices for secondhand Freelander 2s start at rock bottom, but who wants an abused or decrepit car? Bargain basement isn’t the place to go for any Land Rover – and especially not a model that boasts some pretty sophisticated electronics. But prices have fallen, because the Freelander brand is now obsolete (replaced by Disco Sport), making the name less attractive to some buyers. That means a budget of £5000 should find you some excellent examples to choose from.

Owning and driving

Not a Discovery but still tows well

Very few petrol Freelanders were sold in the UK (or Europe, for that matter). But it didn’t matter, because the excellent common rail Ford diesels were responsive little oil-burners, with plenty of power and torque to suit most. You can expect about 35mpg from the standard Td4, with slightly more from the later stop-start Td4_e.

Freelanders can’t match their legendary Discovery cousins in the towing stakes, but they are still very capable indeed, although towing a caravan will definitely affect your mpg – down to 32 or so – and automatic gearboxes aren’t as frugal as their manual counterparts.

The main disadvantage of manual transmission is the presence of a clutch, which is an expensive item to replace because of its relative inaccessibility, resulting in high labour changes and garage bills nudging £1000. Consumables like brake pads are relatively cheap – and cheaper still if you opt for aftermarket parts.

If you are used to beam-axled traditional Land Rovers, you’ll find the on-road handling a revelation – and on slippery off-road surfaces Freelander 2 will out-perform them.

Servicing and mods

Service intervals for diesel models is every 15,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes soonest. It can be done by the home mechanic. LRM has featured DIY Freelander 2 servicing in the past, including issue 201 (March 2015), but a full service requires an inexpensive electronic tool like Lynx or Hawkeye to reset the car’s service indicator.

If any modifications have been made – eg performance chips – ensure they have been professionally fitted – and make sure you inform your insurance company.

Security

Every Freelander 2 came supplied with two “docking” ignition keys. Make sure you get both of them, unless you know (and trust) the seller very well.

Double-lock your vehicle by pressing the fob lock button twice. This means the doors can’t be unlocked even if a would-be thief smashes a window.

Quick tips

• Don't panic… if your automatic gearbox starts playing up: the odds are it’s a software glitch that can be cured with a reboot at your nearest franchise or specialist dealer.
•Shop around – this was Europe’s best-selling 4x4, so there are plenty to choose from.
• The oil filter on the Td4 engine is hard to get to: you’ll need extra-deep (27mm) sockets.

Did you know?

• Freelander TD4_e features stop-start technology that cuts out the engine when the vehicle is stationary, neutral is selected and the clutch engaged; the engine restarts when the clutch pedal is depressed. The system includes a heavy-duty starter motor that also acts as a generator to recover energy through regenerative braking.
• Freelander eD4 is a two-wheel-drive version, aimed at improving economy and emissions.
• For the 2014 model year, the Freelander got a revised look with a different grille, and
new interior trim.​​​​​​

Timeline

2006: Production begins at Halewood, Merseyside. Debut at British International Motor Show
2009: TD4_e engine uses stop-start technology to improve economy and exhaust emissions
2010:  Freelander 2 eD4 is Land Rover’s first two-wheel drive option
2014: Production ends in December
2015: Freelander badge discontinued as its predecessor is named Discovery Sport

 

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