This Model`s Still Top of the Pops

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), July 9, 2004 | Go to article overview

This Model`s Still Top of the Pops


Byline: By Alistair Coull

His view:

The Freelander has been a huge success for Land Rover. Its reliability may not always have been what customers wanted but generally the picture is bright.

The stylish 4x4 is now so popular that many times during our week in the five-door version it was as if we were in a Freelander parade. Three in a row is not uncommon. It may depend on where you live, but certainly on our daily commute you see plenty.

This year so far has seen the Freelander outsell its two nearest rivals ( the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But why is it so popular?

It certainly isn't price. Consistently one of the more expensive SUVs, it trades on value rather than cost. Underwritten by half a century of experience it manages to combine genuine off-road ability with rugged good looks and an easy driveability that puts more than a few saloon cars to shame.

I have always thought of the Freelander as an agreeable runabout, nicely sprung, sweet handling and easy to live with. In polite circles you are well-shod if you arrive in a Freelander. But there is a lot more to this car than what you see. All the clever bits are hidden from view.

We drove the latest Td4 version in five-door SE trim with an automatic hybrid gearbox. With a price tag of over pounds 22,500, it's close in price to some of the full-sized flagship models from the Pacific Rim.

The Td4 badge signifies the presence of a two-litre turbopowered common rail diesel engine, mounted transversely and driving all four wheels via a viscous coupling that distributes torque according to changing levels of grip.

Developing 191lb/ft of torque at a lowly 1,750rpm, the Td4 is well equipped for off-road duty, or for towing trailers or caravans up to 1,800kg. …

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