Land Rover Freelander 2007 - long-term test

Refined new Land Rover Freelander is an instant hit with our high-mileage photographer

  • Interior: Build quality is excellent and the cabin almost unrecognisable from the cheap interior of the previous model. Everything is satisfyingly robust<BR><BR>Gearbox: The diesel/auto combination in the Freelander is superb. Upshifts are smooth, and the engine unobtrusive, making it relaxing to drive.<BR><BR>Emissions: While a 224g/km CO2 output isn’t great, it means the 4x4 will avoid the planned £25 London congestion charge. The daily levy will remain at £8.
  • Boot space: Considering it will appeal to family buyers, luggage room is surprisingly limited, plus the boot lining gets scuffed quite easily

Our new Land Rover Freelander arrived just as the Auto Express road test team was about to set off for Wales for our annual Greatest Drives feature (Issue 975).

The drive to Anglesey takes around five hours from Gibson towers (otherwise known as Essex), and is always a good test of a car’s comfort and abilities. There are various ways to the circuit, and I chose to take the A5, which heads through Snowdonia – a fitting route for a new off-roader. The journey would provide the perfect opportunity to get to know our latest long-termer.

First impressions were very good. The Rimini Red paintwork we chose really suits the car, and it’s very photogenic, too – a crucial attribute for a snapper.

The Freelander has a fairly traditional off-road shape, while a stylish grille and chrome side vents give it an upmarket feel. The top-spec HSE trim level of our car also means there is plenty of kit.

Plush leather seats further lift the sense of quality, and overall, the cabin is a huge improvement over the old model’s. It feels like a mini Discovery, thanks to the chunky switchgear and superbly laid-out centre console, while the touchscreen sat-nav – a standard feature on our car – is excellent.

However, I do have a gripe with the car – and for me, it’s a big one. The boot is simply not as large as it should be. A pushchair and a few shopping bags quickly fill up the modest space. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that our Freelander comes with an optional full-size spare wheel fitted rather than a space-saver.

All this is soon forgotten when you’re behind the wheel, though, as the Land Rover really comes into its own on the road. It’s a super-refined cruiser, and isn’t sloppy around corners, either. The combination of a smooth but punchy 2.2-litre diesel engine and six-speed automatic gearbox works well. Plus, with 158bhp, the oil-burner delivers decent pace, despite the car’s bulky 1,900kg kerbweight.

Meanwhile, the extra height gives you an excellent view of oncoming traffic, as well as a real sense of security and superiority. All these qualities made the trip to Wales not only pleasant, but relaxing, too.

The Freelander has already proved to be very popular with other staff members – various camping trips and holidays have been booked. So now it seems the biggest problem with the car will be keeping hold of it!

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