2WD Freelander vs rivals

Front-drive Freelander is the most eco-friendly Land Rover yet. Does it have the measure of crossover rivals from BMW and Kia?

2WD Freelander vs. rivals

Can the best 4x4 by far make the transition to two-wheel drive? Land Rover is a firm favourite with the country set, but rising fuel prices and tax costs are affecting everyone, which explains why the off-road brand is dipping its toes in the water of the crossover class.

The latest Freelander 2 is the first-ever two-wheel-drive Land Rover – and the brand has made some minor styling adjustments, too. With a weight saving of 75kg over the 4x4, plus stop-start, it claims fuel economy of 47.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 158g/km.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Freelander

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Rivals come thick and fast, as the crossover sector is brimming with talent. Kia can’t match Land Rover’s prestige, but it’s enjoying booming sales and the new Sportage is arguably its best car yet. The two-wheel-drive version comes packed with kit, a seven-year warranty and boasts concept-style looks. The 1.7-litre CRDi flagship is the cheapest car here.

If you want a desirable badge and reputation for success, look at BMW. Its off-road credentials were established by the X3 and X5, while the X1 crossover arrived last year. In sDrive 18d trim it has a sporty RWD chassis, while EfficientDynamics technology promises to slash fuel bills.

A few thousand pounds is all that separates our trio on price; will the Freelander sink or swim?

Verdict

Three models, three very different takes on the crossover sector. But which one is the best?

Against the odds, it is the cheapest car that offers the most. The Kia Sportage stormed into an early lead, which it never relinquished. It is capable on and off-road, posted impressive fuel returns and comes absolutely full of kit. The bold styling, spacious interior and seven-year warranty are the icing on the cake. 

Separating the BMW from the Land Rover is a much tougher task. The X1 gives the most car-like experience and also makes the Freelander 2 look costly to run. However, it doesn’t provide many of the key attractions we’ve come to expect from the crossover class, such as improved comfort, practicality or visibility. 

It was a close-run thing, but the 2WD Freelander sneaks into second place. Yes, it demands a more relaxed approach behind the wheel than the X1, but we think its more welcoming cabin, unique driving position and superior off-road ability make it a better crossover buy. It’s not the best 2x4 by far, but its prestigious badge and off-road styling hold immense appeal all the same.

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