What is it?
Possibly the most versatile car in the world, and the benchmark by which all other small SUVs should be measured. It’s been looking a bit plain recently, alongside the sparking Evoque, so Land Rover has facelifted it with new lights, colours, trims and interior. The appeal over the Evoque comes in practicality: it’ll swallow a family plus an animal or two, and is as happy off-road as it is in town and on highway.
This isn’t just a field-basher converted for the road. The ride’s comfy and, although it’s not tuned for lap times, you can push fairly hard and it won’t fall over. There’s even a two-wheel-drive version – an acknowledgement that, for some owners at least, this is a lifestyle SUV that will spend 100 per cent of its life on tarmac.
There’s only one engine, a 2.2-litre diesel, but it comes in two levels of power – 150bhp TD4 or 190bhp SD4. The 190bhp unit is quicker to 62mph, but it’s way less efficient than the 150. The 150bhp with four-wheel-drive does 0–62mph in 11.7 seconds and 45.6mpg. Those stats are ok, but powering all four wheels uses more fuel, so if you want reduced emissions and can sacrifice a little traction, go for the eD4 2WD – it manages a couple more miles to the gallon. If your lifestyle is more rural, the 4WD and Terrain Response System is one of the best out there. Handy if your daily duties are a bit farmy.
On the inside
The facelift has been focused on the interior, where a new centre console gives it a much-needed quality lift. There’s a new touchscreen infotainment system, the option of high-end audio, even an electronic parking brake and colour reversing camera. New colours and materials make it look more lifestyle and a flash new Dynamic trim line takes some of the Evoque’s standout style and gives it a more family-friendly twist.
You sit high, surveying the road on the same level as white-van man. So there’s lots of headroom, but when you move back, space does become a bit tighter. Rear-seat six-footers will struggle for knee room and the boot is generally smaller than other compact crossovers.
Steer clear of the 190bhp diesel and you should be fine. The two-wheel-drive versions have slightly better fuel economy and emissions than 4WDs, although Land Rover is squarely beaten by the BMW the X3. That said, it will still get close to 50mpg if you drive carefully and the manual versions get a stop/start system, giving in-town economy a lift. The old Freelander had a somewhat shaky reputation when it came to reliability, but this one fixes nearly all of that and feels properly put together.