Land Roverís most affordable model (below the venerable Discovery and luxurious Range Rover), Freelander debuted in 1997 and gets its first major upgrade for 2004. Its ruggedly handsome new face is more like the Range Roverís, with body-colored bumpers and twin-pocket, clear-lens headlamps that shine 70 percent brighter than the previ" />

Issue: Jan 2004


New Product in Brief - 2004 Land Rover Freelander



An Affordable, Capable Off-Roader

by Gary Witzenburg

The Basics

Land Roverís most affordable model (below the venerable Discovery and luxurious Range Rover), Freelander debuted in 1997 and gets its first major upgrade for 2004. Its ruggedly handsome new face is more like the Range Roverís, with body-colored bumpers and twin-pocket, clear-lens headlamps that shine 70 percent brighter than the previous units. Like the Saturn VUEís, its thermoplastic front fenders shrug off minor dings. Around back, its taillamps sit higher to reduce their vulnerability to dust and dirt.

Inside its cabin, a new instrument cluster in an all-new panel with new controls and switches, new door trim, improved HVAC system and premium seats ó all in new materials that look and feel much richer than before ó significantly enhance the driving environment. And this more luxurious interior is also substantially quieter, even at elevated freeway speeds.

Powertrain and Chassis

The only power team is a 174-hp 2.5-L DOHC 24-valve aluminum V-6 driving a smoother 5- speed automatic with LRís CommandShift enabling sequential manual gear changes for added driver involvement. Four-wheel independent MacPherson-strut suspension provides 7.1 inches of vertical front wheel travel and a whopping 9.4 inches in back. Steering is power rack-and-pinion with the rack mounted high on the firewall out of harmís way.

All-Wheel Drive and HDC

Freelander is probably the most off-road capable contender in its size class, and the only one with a standard V-6. Its always-ready all-wheel drive (no need to manually select it or for a computer to activate it after detecting slippage) is augmented by 4-channel all-terrain antilock braking, Electronic Traction Control (ETC), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Hill Descent Control (HDC). The system can maintain progress even when only one wheel has traction. Its long wheel travel allows it to step over obstacles without pitching its occupants side-to-side, and its short wheelbase allows for excellent breakover angles.
 
When selected in forward or reverse, HDC automatically applies braking to individual wheels to maintain a 5-mph crawl down the steepest slopes. Though it can get a little rough and noisy, it works amazingly well to keep scarily steep descents under control. Among Freelanderís immediate rivals, only Nissanís Xterra offers 4-wheel ETC (optional), only Mitsubishiís Outlander offers manual shift control, and none offers HDC.

Models, Features and Prices

Freelander is offered in 5-door SE and HSE versions, plus a 3-door soft-top SE3, with prices beginning at $25,995. Standard features include a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with convenient controls for sound system and cruise, a power window in the rear cargo door, an 80-watt audio system, power heated outside mirrors, pre-tensioning height-adjustable front seatbelts with load limiters, plenty of cargo bins, trays, nets, (appropriately deep) cupholders and a whole lot more. The $28,995 HSE adds a full leather interior, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, 17-inch tires and wheels and an indash single CD player, while the sporty $26,995 SE3 gets integrated fog lamps and an in-dash 6-CD changer.

What We Think

For those wanting a sub-$30K SUV with serious off-road capability, the í04 Freelander is a pleasant surprise and a huge improvement over previous models.
































































Specifications
What is it: An upscale compact SUV with world-class off-road prowess
Whoís it for: Off-road enthusiasts wanting more capability and cache than afforded by others in its class
Whereís it built: Sulihull, England
Parent company: Ford Motor Company
Competitors: Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Jeep Liberty, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Xterra, Saturn VUE, Toyota RAV4
Engine: 2.5L DOHC 24-valve aluminum V-6
Horsepower: 174 @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed electronically controlled automatic with locking torque converter, Sport/Normal modes and CommandShift sport/manual shifting
Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 101.0 in. (2557 mm)

Supplier Involvement:
Headlamps and taillamps: Koito
Windshield wipers: Valeo
Transmission: JATCO
Tires: Michelin, Continental
In Car Entertainment: Visteon
Brakes: TRW
Glass: Pilkington
Window lift switches (five-door): ALPS


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