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Land Rover Freelander (1997 - 2006)

Last updated 30 May 2017

Roomy, comfortable cabin with child-friendly views from the back seat. Plenty for sale out there. Good off-road ability.
Not as sharp to drive as a CR-V, RAV4 or X-Trail. Niggling reliability problems. 1.8 petrol engine leaks coolant and expires. Fared badly in JD Power Customer Satisfaction Surveys.
Updated 12 February 2004
Freelander facelift

Improved interior and exterior, with more comfortable seats and new trim colours and materials. New Sport model optimised for on-road driving performance. Three engines (1.8 and 2.5 Rover K Series petrol...

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Land Rover had been planning a smaller model to sit below its Discovery since the late-1980s. In fact, many of the Freelander prototypes were disguised in Metro and Maestro bodyshells or - towards the end of development - the body of a Maestro van.

But it wouldn't be until the BMW Group took over Rover in 1994 that project CB40 (as it was known internally) would be given the green light. Enginners would then have just three years to get the project ready for the road. 

Finally launched in 1997, the Freelander was available in two different wheelbases and buyers could choose from a 1.8-litre Rover K-series petrol engine, 2.0-litre Rover diesel engine. A 2.5-litre KV6 petrol engine with automatic transmission followed in Autumn 2000 and a BMW 2.0-litre TD4 diesel also replaced the Rover unit.

It was Land Rover's first ever vehicle to be of monocoque unitary construction, rather than on a separate chassis. It was also the first ever SUV to feature Hill Descent Control, along with a viscous coupling, off-road specific traction control and the IRD (or Intermediate Reduction Drive), which acted as both transfer box and front propshaft, ensuring the impeccable off-road performance that Land Rover was so keen to retain. The IRD, though, would later prove itself to be one of the model's most common failure points, alongside K-series petrol-engined models' head gaskets.

Next: Model Timeline

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