2009 LandRover Freelander 2 TD4 - Long Term Wrap Up
We decided to take the Freelander 2 off-road to see if it could keep up with a Discovery 3 when the going got really tough. Here's our footage of what happened in the Lithgow foothills outside Sydney.
“If you can find an SUV in this small to medium segment that better combines outstanding road manners and comfort with serious off road capability and economy than Land Rover’s Freelander 2 TD4 – buy it”
When a Land Rover insider from the UK told us that the Freelander 2 will go anywhere the Defender can on their own proving ground, albeit a little slower, we thought he might have been a little too enthusiastic for his own good.After 24 hours behind the wheel of this baby Land Rover in seriously hard-core four-wheel-drive terrain, negotiating all kinds of nasty stuff, including deep mud ruts in torrential rain, we can assure you he is one hundred percent on the money, this is a remarkably capable off-roader.
Even more encouraging was that this particular test vehicle was shod with ordinary road tyres, and yet we still managed to make it through some dreadfully soft red mud.
It’s a testament to the brand’s heritage and any vehicle that wears the Land Rover badge.
You forget how well this thing tackles both suburbia and freeways, its front and rear coil-sprung struts are uniquely calibrated to provide a comfortable ride regardless of whether you are powering through a twisty mountain stretch or running the gauntlet of Sydney’s potholes.
Put that down to a body, which is almost twice as stiff as some competitors. You can feel that torsional rigidity as you push hard into some sweeping bends, there’s a lot of refinement and very little body roll.
I’m a huge fan of this 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine and its 400Nm of torque, with half of that available from 1000rpm to 4500rpm.
What that means is that the Freelander has plenty of pull from the moment you tap the throttle and enough low down grunt for difficult rock crawling at 10km/h.
There’s never any jarring through to the supremely well-designed pews either, that’s all five of them. Lots of support and back friendly is how I would describe them. That’s not surprising, given the front seat frames are similar to those in the upmarket, Range Rover Sport.
I know it’s an SUV, but on the tarmac it feels more car-like in the way it both rides and handles general suburban duties.
I’m not a fan of overly light or too sensitive steering, it can ruin the driving experience, but there’s none of that with the Freelander, it's just well weighted and responsive, and a joy to drive. Easy to park too, with just 2.6 turns to lock, making it exceptionally manoeuvrable in tight spots.
In reality, we’ve covered all this in previous long term reports on the Freelander 2, but what we haven’t yet talked about is our off road testing with this vehicle, and I don’t mean the dirt driveway to your nanna’s country property.
We're on our way to some scary 4WD tracks in regional New South Wales, close to Lithgow.
I’ve driven up here previously but never in a soft-roader, only larger more serious four-wheel-drive machines dare to tread in these parts.
This was going to fun, a veritable muddy quagmire in a suburban SUV with standard fit road tyres.
At least we had big brother around, in the form of a Land Rover Discovery as an escort, just in case it all went horribly wrong.
It had rained cats and dogs all night long, so there were plenty of deep puddles - make that water holes - around, but that didn’t worry the Freelander 2, with its 500mm wade depth capability.
It was unstoppable through this stuff, although it does pay to check the depth in these mini billabongs.
So far, so good, but when we came to the edge of a steep track, full of deep mud ruts, which seemed to allow just a few centimetres each side, before metal would be surely be crushed, all kinds of negative thoughts entered my mind.
I don’t wear RM Williams boots or even don an Akubra hat, I’m far more at home on the tarmac, but with sophisticated off road electronics such as Terrain Response and Hill Descent Control, you can claim a level of expertise beyond your level of experience.
Before moving off the edge, I double-checked that MUD RUTS was selected, which automatically engaged Hill Descent Control, meaning all I had to do was literally steer the vehicle.
Don’t quite get it? I mean I’m not using the brake or accelerator pedals, just steering. It’s more like an off road cruise control for dummies.
Once at the bottom of this steep descent without so much as a wheel spin, I expected the climb up the other side might require some assistance from the Discovery.
Again, the Freelander climbed the muddy terrain without issue and with an unusual degree of comfort as far as off road adventures go.
Then it was time to take on a particularly mean track, which had already caused the Disco to backtrack and find another way around.
So far so good, but when we got to some seriously deep red clay in the Freelander, my better judgement told me to follow suit and get out of there.
I’m certain that with a decent set of all terrain or mud terrain rubber, the only thing that would stop the Freelander 2, would be its 210mm ground clearance.
Without question, Land Rover’s Freelander 2 TD4 HSE is a cut above any of the competition. Its both a luxury SUV with a significant dollop of cachet, as well as a highly capable off road vehicle.