When you hear the name Land Rover you immediately think of poor reliability, awful service and atrocious resale value.
My Freelander can only be associated with the last two.
The service was so bad that I started servicing the vehicle myself before the warranty even expired. I believe that's the reason it has not given me many problems, except the right rear window that won't work, since I took ownership in 2004.
I also removed the driveshaft going to the rear differential to protect the Intermediate Reduction Drive (IRD) which is prone to give problems on the Freelander.
Most of the time my Freelander is just a 4X2, except over the December holidays when I refit the driveshaft for a bit of 4X4 driving and the annual Kruger National Park visit.
The best feature of this vehicle must be its engine. A detuned BMW diesel unit producing 82 kW and 260 Nm torque pulls the Freelander along at a brisk pace.
On a recent trip to the KNP I managed to get 918 km from the 65-litre tank, of which 500km was done at "traffic officer attention seeking" speeds and the rest at speeds below 50 km/h while driving in the Kruger.
On the road the vehicle handles well for an SUV. Body roll is acceptable and grip levels adequate for normal driving situations. The turning radius is good and you are never aware that you are driving anything larger than a sedan.
When going around corners with the tyres squealing, the Freelander feels controllable and does not create the feeling that it's about to land on its roof. Highway driving is a pleasure without the need to gear down, except on the steepest of inclines.
Off-road the Freelander excels. In mud and sand it will take on many dedicated low-ranged off-roaders with ease. The light body (1 450 kg), decent ground clearance and willing engine are very much up to the task.
Traversing rocks and boulders are not suited for a vehicle without low range and a burnt clutch and damaged body has assured me of this...
Inside the cabin there is ample storage space with well-designed cup holders in the front doors. The seats can be more supportive, but the seating position is good.
With a large windscreen and front windows, the visibility is excellent all round except for the thick A-pillar which can be intrusive when trying to spot the elusive leopard. The air conditioner has trouble keeping up with temperatures above 30 degrees Celcius.
If this Freelander is stolen, will I buy another? Definitely! The good fuel consumption, delightful engine and perfect game viewing qualities make this vehicle a steal when buying pre-owned.
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