Having already tested a manual Freelander (see test) it's time we report on the automatic version.
As mentioned in our earlier report, the Freelander is a mighty impressive compact 4x4. It has no vices and offers outstanding driving opportunities with a solid feel, both on-road and off-road.
So how does this beaut 4WD appeal when loaded with luxury and an automatic transmission?
Firstly, let's look at the luxuries. The SE comes standard with a 2-litre DOHC 4-cylinder common rail diesel, 5-speed automatic transmission, rear seat armrest, 6 CD premium audio system with steering wheel controls, dark tinted glass, and 16" alloy wheels in addition to other features which are standard in the base "S" model. Those other standard features include permanent 4-wheel drive, power steering, air conditioning, electric/heated external rear view mirrors and 4 channel ABS with HDC, ETC and EBD.
However, the test car had additional features as the optional Luxury Pack (leather seats, 17" alloy wheels, rear parking guidance and rub strips) together with metallic paint were fitted. These options added $3,000 to the standard SE price of $46,450, making a total of $49,450 excluding dealer and state government charges.
For $50,000 there is a lot of choice when it comes to a new car. The luxury and the already proven delights of Land Rover's little car are a magical combination! Do yourself a big favour, be sure to include an automatic Freelander on your shopping list.
The automatic transmission and the 2-litre 4-cylinder diesel are an excellent combination. In fact, it is my recommended choice. Every day in the saddle with this car was like a dream. It impressed me every day I had the car! The auto seems to make the strong and willing turbo diesel perform at it's best. Although not a racing car in any sense, your neighbour next to you at the traffic lights will get a surprise if you put a committed foot down! The Freelander seems perfect for hitting the trail out of town, but be assured it is absolutely delightful around town too! It offers very good performance, excellent comfort and lots of luxury but it has the added benefit of permanent 4-wheel drive for those excursions off the road which you may have been dreaming about. There's just one other feature to include...... the low fuel bills! The combined fuel usage is rated at an amazing 7.1 litres/100 kms for the automatic Freelander. If you hadn't already thought Freelander was a great buy, you should be now! Fuel usage is a very big plus with this outstanding package.
The strength of Land Rover DNA should not be underestimated. The Freelander has abundant strength as it feels as solid as solid can be. Not all compact SUV's (excuse the expression) offer a solid feel, but the Freelander makes strength an obvious attribute. But at 1.6 tonnes, it's not dead weight it hauls around. The strength comes from proper design and manufacturing techniques.
So is it possible to fault the Freelander? It's very difficult to fault this compact sized 4x4 ever. But the front passenger does have a reduced area for foot space due to the heater being located under the dash, but it doesn't intrude, it just reduces the amount of available space for the passengers feet. Plenty of legroom and kneeroom though.
The Freelander SE suits so many applications, for example it can be a compact wagon or an off-roader or a comfortable cruiser or a luxury car, yet it should be used for all of the above, because it is one of so few that can please so many.
Driving around the city streets of Sydney and Newcastle, the Freelander feels very comfortable. The driving position is commanding, in the tradition of this type of vehicle. The leather interior makes you enjoy it so much more!
But so that there is no doubt, let me make clear my assertions from our last Freelander test drive ..... "the hype tells you that the Freelander is a great compact sized 4WD and driving it confirms that notion ..... decisively!"
That being the case, there's only one way to sum up a Freelander SE. It's top of the class ...... and quite rightly so!