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Land Rover Freelander 2 HSE Review & Road Test Part 3

Wed, 19 May 2010

Final part of our review/road test of the Freelander 2 HSE

The bigger dimensions on the Freelander 2 have made the cabin more appealing. In many ways it reminds me of the interior on the previous model Range Rover Sport. The one I recently decried as “ill-conceived and felt low-rent”. Which was how it felt in the Sport (much improved now, I hasten to add).

In the Freelander it works pretty well. The centre console is too much of a button-fest to be contemporary, and it could do with getting the same Jaguar-based setup its big brothers now get. There are still a bit of nasty plastics on the dash and the door trim, which may be just about acceptable on a £22k car but really isn’t acceptable when the car’s getting perilously close to £40k.

But minor niggles apart the Freelander – particularly in this HSE guise – has a good interior. Lots of toys and leather and that great, commanding, laid-back driving position that Land Rovers do so well. The back has a decent amount of space and you can do one 6-footer behind the other. Just about. And the seats are comfortable with plenty of adjustment and fold-down arm rests.

The boot is a decent size, but the load height is much too high. Fine if you’re 6′ 3″, but not so great if you’re 5′ 3″ and trying to load the week’s shopping in the boot in the Waitrose car park in the pouring rain. So I’m told. Quite forcefully.

Having more or less started the compact SUV craze with the original Freelander, Land Rover has tried to leave the pack behind with the Freelander 2. And they have succeeded with a combination of a push up-market and a much better product. The Freelander 2 – particularly in this HSE guise – is a proper exec-mobile, offering all the toys and comfort of a saloon car with the plus of the commanding driving position and very little compromise in the handling.

There’s stuff that needs fixing, certainly. But what needs fixing is very minor. We’d like the scratchy-plastic bits in the cabin changed and the button-fest replaced by the Jaguar system. We know the PSA 2.2 litre can deliver more power without real compromise, so we’d like to see the Freelander 2 get a few more horses.

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And that’s about it. Certainly in terms of what can be fixed now and, who knows, we might see this fixed in the Freelander 2 facelift that’s about to arrive. The other moans are more fundamental. The load height for the boot is far too high, although there’s a decent amount of room once you get stuff in, especially with the seats down.

And those back seats, although acceptably comfortable, do force grown-up passengers to have their knees too high. But that’s the same structural issue as the load height at the back and will have to wait for Land Rover’s next generation in 2012/2013.

What the Freelander has – minor gripes apart –  is real class. No show-off looks or OTT blingy bits. You don’t see the Freelander 2 pimped to within an inch of its life with huge alloys. It has integrity, and that satisfied – almost smug – look you see in the eyes of a Freelander 2 driver comes from the knowledge that – just like its siblings – the Freelander 2 is the real deal.

It will do the school run and the shopping run and all those other urban necessities with alacrity. But throw the worst weather you like at it or chuck it in to a gravel pit and with the turn of a knob and a prod at the Hill descent button it will – with just a little caution – continue on completely unfazed.

Try that in your trendy, compact pseudo-SUV

Full Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE specification, data and price

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By Cars UK