2015 Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 Metropolis Review – Final Send Off(Road)

A real off-roader amongst its rivals, great all-rounder, luxurious & practical interior, good looks

Slight top-heavy on-road drive, fuel economy not great, narrow boot floor space

Land Rover Freelander?

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It’s the end of an era for the Freelander, as by 2015 it will be replaced by the Discovery Sport. Seeing a gap in their line-up for a compact SUV, Land Rover introduced the Freelander in 1997, with a variety of engines and models available. The first generation Freelander – which ran from ’97 – ’06 –  sold well in both Europe and the USA, but at the time Land Rover itself was being bounced around and sold from one manufacturer to another (BMW>Ford), and as a consequence various parts and engines were used (including old, outdated Rover units) and by the time the first-gen version was coming to the end of its run, it looked and drove past its prime, with earlier versions plagued with reliability issues.

2006 saw the all-new Freelander 2 (LR2 in the States) arrive, which featured tougher looks, better off-road capabilities, stronger engines, and a more luxurious and comfortable interior. With the end of the Freelander 2 now in sight, in 2014 Land Rover says goodbye with a final version that has upgraded looks, equipment and a new engine. We were sent the flagship 2015 Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 Metropolis to review as a final farewell to the model. Will it leave us with a bitter aftertaste, or fond future memories? Read on to find out…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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I never liked the exterior of the 1st generation Freelander, especially the earlier models. It was just weedy-looking, and a sort of neither here-nor-there crossover that didn’t look like it was really up to the job of tackling off-roading. There was even a ‘sport’ version, which was utterly pointless and looked like it was embarrassed at its lack of Landy-ness, the black plastic trim in front of the headlights giving it the appearance of crying; “You can’t take me off tarmac! I’ll get muddy! Boo hoo.”

Thankfully, the designers saw sense with the Freelander 2, and made it look more like its big brother, the Discovery. Gone was the chubby-ness, replaced with with a wholly more sturdy and tougher-looking exterior. For the last Freelanders (2013 onwards), Land Rover chose to overhaul and upgrade the looks further by adding Xeon LED lamps front and rear, brightwork on the front grille and fog lamps, plus a few more slight changes to the looks and 3 more more colour options have been added.

The stylish LED daytime running light sections of the headlampson the Metropolis version are particularly striking, as thin and shaped bars light up, and surround a round bank of 7 super-bright LEDs, giving the Freelander 2 a premium, classy edge. Up close the Freelander 2 is bigger than I expected, with a tall front end, a squared-off bonnet edge and large upper and lower grilles. Really, it’s a fairly fussy front, but it suits this Land Rover. Any more blingy and shiny bits though, and it’d start to look overly-urbanised.

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As a size comparison, the Freelander 2 is very similar in length and height to the Toyota RAV4, and in fact the wheelbase is exactly the same. Down the side of the Freelander 2, noticeable are the large windows in the door and side of the boot, which give a real sense of openness, the standard panoramic glass sections in the roof – which gives the front and rear their individual sunroofs – furthering that effect.

Around to the rear, and the boot features a high load-point with the traditional flat ‘seat’ integrated into the bumper. Tailgate lifted up, and sat on the bumper with a sarnie and a cup of tea from a flask, admiring the Yorkshire countryside a fair distance from any tarmac, I felt a sense of satisfaction somehow. I think it’s because this simple thing makes the Freelander feel more like a proper 4×4 than its rivals, and more than a ‘sports utility vehicle’ (I hate that Americanism!) too.

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I also love the cool, stylish light units at the back: they’re similar to the Discovery’s, albeit smaller-sized versions. The only thing I dislike about the Freelander 2 exterior is the rear exhaust backbox, which looks uncomfortably low to the ground, and whilst ground clearance is decent it looks like it’d be taking the brunt of the damage should you bottom out when off-roading. Aside from that, in summary I really like the look of the Feelander 2, as it blends premium looks with a decently rugged design that makes rivals look rather wimpy.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

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I say that buying the last run of a model being replaced by a manufacturer is a good idea. This is because they usually throw everything on it, as they usually can’t use it on the car replacing it, hence you’ll get a load of top-spec kit on at a good price. This is true of the Freelander 2 to a large extent, as Land Rover have upped the specs of the final models. The Freelander 2  now starts with an SE spec instead of the old S, meaning that as standard you get upgrades like full leather in a choice of three colours, and two trim variants.

The updated interior now looks more contemporary, with a new centre console, instrument panel that includes a 5-inch information screen, Terrain Response buttons instead of a dial, 7-day timed climate so you can have your car toasty warm as soon as you start the engine, a faster satellite navigation system, plus ‘say what you see’ voice activation. There’s also now the fantastic Meridian surround-sound system in 380-watt or 825W variants.

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That’s the new stuff out the way, so what’s this 2015 Freelander Metropolis like to live with? First off, this is a very nice-looking interior. The newer design is combines style and class with practicality, robustness and durability. In fact, it’s not far short of the Disco’s interior. It’s just a shrunken-down version, that’s all.

There’s piano black and satin silver trim used throughout the interior, and it’s really well made and the build quality is superb. Evidence of this is shown in features such as the to retractable lid on the storage box in centre console, which has the perfect degree of spring action on it. It just proves that much thought gone into it, and it’s not just thrown together hastily.

The switchgear is superbly well placed, with sizeable controls that are both user and glove-friendly. The heated steering wheel is grippy, comfortable to hold and just the right thickness too.

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Its front seats are very comfortable and supportive, if a little short on the legs. The can be lifted high up for a commanding view, and the driver’s 8-way adjustable seat can be gotten ‘just right’ for whoever’s driving. The adjustable armrests are definitely a good feature too, and worth spec’ing (they come as a package with heated/electrically-adjustable chairs) if you’re buying the SE or SE Tech.

In the rear, the seats are also decently comfortable  – even the centre one isn’t half bad – although I’d have preferred a slightly more raked backrest angle. Leg and head room is fine, and the thick door-card panels give a sense of class and solidity to the interior. As mentioned earlier, the cabin feels exceptionally airy thanks to the Freelander’s large windows and individual front/rear sunroofs. I like the fact the sunroof net blind (on the front ‘roof) stays in place when the glass is open so you’re still shaded.

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The 17-speaker, 825W Meridian sound system (standard on the Metropolis) is outstanding, and the touchscreen is the version used in newer Jaguar and Land Rover models, which I’ve reported as excellent in the past, and the sat nav is one of the best out there for ease of use and clear mapping.

Opening the tailgate, the Freelander 2 provides 755 litres behind the rear seats, and 1,670 with them down. That’s a large amount of space but I was trying to fathom why it didn’t appear to be any bigger than its competitor such as the Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volvo XC60 and the Mitsubishi Outlander, when in actual fact it is. Then it dawned that the rear wheel arches take up a fair amount of floor space, thus hindering it to a degree. Aside from that, it’s a good amount of space.

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Overall the Freelander’s interior is excellent, but a couple of things I picked up on are that the A pillars are thick at the base, impairing vision, and secondly that the front cup holders have rubber grips that are overly thick, and hold drinks in place too well. Bottles are fine, but should you buy a takeout coffee or soft drink, the holders grip them so tight that you can’t get them out without spilling the drink, or worse, tearing the cardboard cup – a very bad design indeed. A small point, but a worthy one.

Engine & gearbox

UK versions of the Freelander 2 now only come with a choice of two diesel engines: TD4 and SD4. Both are turbocharged 2.2 litre, 4-cylinder (in-line) units. The TD4 gets 148 bhp and 310 lb ft (420 Nm) of torque. The SD4 has the same torque but produces more power at 187 bhp. Speed-wise, the TD4 does the 0 – 60 mph run in 10.9 seconds and hits 112 mph at the top, while the SD4 take 8.7 and a has a max of 118 mph.

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There’s only a 6-speed manual gearbox – only available on the TD4 – and a 6-speed auto which can only be had on the SD4. Oh, and there’s no longer a 2-wheel-drive version available anymore, as the 4WD is standard. Good! Official UK mpg economy stats for the SD4 we tested are: urban: 35.2, extra urban: 48.7, combined: 40.4. The TD4 gets approximately 2 – 6 mpg more. Co2 emissions on the SD4 are 185 g/km.

Real-life fuel stats showed an average of 31.2 mpg over 120 motorway miles, and around 28 – 30 mpg average on mixed routes. Not exactly great then. At around 40 mph, the live reading did show a return of around 42 miles-per-gallon, so it does do okay if you’re very careful with the right foot.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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For me, driving a decently rugged 4×4 gives a sense of satisfaction – it’s ready for almost anything you can throw at it on the road, and you can use it year-round without worry. The Freelander 2 gave me that same feeling from the moment I clunked shut the heavy driver’s door and fired the smooth SD4 diesel into life.

This thing will take you through the worst of the weather, and over roads that are more trail than tarmac. Whilst the Freelander 2 may be the baby of the family, when developing it Land Rover apparently put it through its paces – and then some. It was pushed to its limits by being driven in extreme temperatures (- 40˚C to +50˚C) and environments, such as a mooch about at 14,000 feet. So you can be assured that a drive down snow-covered country roads in -5˚, or one down a rough and boggy farm track, or simply a motorway trip when there’s standing water about, is barely testing the Freelander’s capabilities.

That’s great to know, and I’ll cover more about its 4×4 abilities in the next section. For now though, what’s it like to live with normally? For starters, it’s a very easy car to drive in the city. Let’s face it, many people driving the Freelander 2 will be doing just that. It offers good vision all-round, and the Freelander itself isn’t large enough to be intimidating to drive down say, narrow streets, or to park in tight spaces. A decent turning circle helps things too.

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The suspension set-up and all-round coil springs and on the Freelander are pleasantly supple over the bits of road the councils can’t be bothered to fix (which is almost all of it), and the comfortable seats soak up any extra roughness after that.

On a motorway run the Freelander 2 is a pleasant and fairly quiet place to be, as overall there’s good sound deadening from the wind and road. The one thing I noticed was that at higher speeds (around 70 mph) there was obvious road noise coming from the wheel arch at each side. It’s not overly intrusive, but it is there.

The Freelander cruises beautifully, and although it has the older 6-speed auto rather than the new 8, the ratios are well spaced and 6th is long enough to mean a relaxed engine. 70 mph @ approx. 1,800 rpm is fine by me.

The automatic transmission goes through the gears smoothly too, and I never had any issues whether I was gunning it hard or letting it do its own thing in city traffic. A country road blast showed the Freelander copes fine grip-wise, thanks to its permanent 4WD system, but it does feel slightly top-heavy, and there’s a little more roll than I’d have thought. However, I can forgive it that as the Freelander isn’t your average small SUV when it comes to off-roading. On that note…

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

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Ah yes. 4×4-ing. Here at CarProductsTested, we love a good bit o’ off-roading, and since Land Rover have mucho faith in their vehicles in that department, they’re happy to let us have a play about in the mud with them. Let the fun begin.

As mentioned, the Land Rover Freelander 2 feels much more like a ‘real’ 4×4 than the average smaller SUV. You’re sat up really high and it offers good visibility all-round – aside from those thick A-pillars, that is – meaning that squeezing down narrow dirt tracks or placing the car where you want on a particularly testing bit of ground is easy. The huge wing mirrors also play their part in this.

We’ve tested and driven a whole host of 4x4s, and you know almost immediately whether one is built for the rough stuff or not. In this case, the Freelander 2 felt planted and solid as soon as I drove off-road and onto the rough stuff, like it’s at home over this sort of terrain and made for it, rather than it being designed just for the occasional venture off the tarmac.

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The Freelander 2 SD4 comes with Terrain Response which has three off-road settings: Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts, and Sand. Selecting them is foolproof: simply press the arrow button until it lights up on the one you want, and that’s it. This then adjusts the powertrain and traction control system accordingly to ensure the best grip.

There’s also Hill Descent Control, which can be manually turned on, and Gradient Release Control to make sure the Freelander doesn’t run away with itself up or down steeply-angled routes. Still not convinced? There’s also a 500 mm wading depth and 210 mm of ground clearance.

Test time. Pulling off the road, the Freelander is immediately met with deep, dried ploughed sections of field, and I select ‘Mud Ruts’ on the Terrain Response to how it’ll combat them. This setting automatically switches on downhill descent, which works as the wheels dip in and out of the deep delves, keeping the Freelander moving forward at a slow-enough pace to avoid undercarriage damage. It tackles them with zero issues and we’re out the other side, down a dirt track and into an off-road area.

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A narrow waterlogged track is our next target, and the Land Rover deals with them no problem as well. At one end the central section between the ruts becomes too high for the Freelander’s undercarriage, and we need to get out. Climbing the sides of the ruts is no easy task on non-offroad tyres, but the Land Rover does it anyway after just a couple of attempts.

Once out, we head over to a section of water. We’ve been here before, and know that underneath it is a mixture of slime and slick mud. It’s not easy stuff to get through, especially as you’re also wading through fairly deep water. Again though, the Freelander takes it in its stride. The 500 mm wade depth was throughly tested several times over, and no water got into the cabin at all.

The only real negative I could find with the Freelander is that the rear exhaust back-box is slung low and will likely be the first thing to get dented or ripped off should you do anything more serious than what we did. If you were serious about your off-roading, an aftermarket system may offer a smaller alternative.

Price

(prices accurate August ’14). Priced between £27,700 – £35,000, the Land Rover Freelander 2 is not a cheap vehicle when compared with rivals. However, the build quality and overall finish of the car makes it feel worth every penny of that. You’re not just buying a small part-time-type SUV here, but one that is built to tackle the rough stuff, and it’s more proper 4×4 than anything else.

The competition consists of cars like the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross ALLGRIP, Mazda CX-5 AWD, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Sportage. More in its price bracket are the Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60.

2015 Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 Metropolis verdict & score

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I think it’s a real pity that Land Rover have decided to drop the Freelander 2. It’s a good all-rounder, and a great way to get entry into owning a Land Rover branded vehicle without too high a cost, and while there is the Evoque for that as well, I believe the Freelander had its own place in the line-up.

Whatever is said though, it’s going to be taken out of the range soon, but this is definitely one to go test drive if you’re in the market for that sort of sized SUV. I think you’ll love the quality and toughness of it, and becuase Land Rover are chucking everything on it before it finishes, the time to buy one is just before they end. So, bitter aftertaste, or fond future memories? The latter, for sure.

Do you own a Land Rover Freelander 2? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  8
Engine (SD4)  7.5
Gearbox  7.5
Price  6.5
Handling  6.5
Drive & Ride  7.5
AWD & off-road ability  8
Overall Score  7.5 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2015 Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 Metropolis
Spec includes  19″ alloy wheels, Xenon & LED headlights, front fog lamps, panoramic roof, cruise control, electric adjustable & heated wing mirrors, 7 airbags, ABS, DSC, ETC, EBA, EBD, CBC, Roll Stability Control, Hill Decent & Gradient Release Control, Terrain Response, 7″ touchscreen entertainment system with sat nav, bluetooth, rear-view camera etc, 825W Meridian sound system, See website for more info
Options you should spec  Privacy glass: £350
The Competition  Suzuki SX4 S-Cross ALLGRIPMazda CX-5 AWDSubaru ForesterToyota RAV4Honda CR-VMitsubishi OutlanderKia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60.
Price  (April ’14) £27,700 – £35,000
Engine  Diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder in-line, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 187 hp | Torque: 310 lb ft (420 Nm)
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Full-time 4-wheel-drive with Terrain Response | 6-speed automatic
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: Minimum 210 mm (8.2″) | Wading: 500mm (19.7″) | Braked towing: 2,000 kg’s (4,409 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 118 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.7 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: Adult: 5-stars (2007 model rating)
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 35.2, Extra urban: 48.7, Combined: 40.4 | | CO2: 185 g/km
Weight (kerb)  1,805 kg’s (3,979 lbs)
Websites  Land Rover UK, Land Rover USA, Land Rover Worldwide

Check out our other Land Rover reviews here

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

10 responses to “2015 Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 Metropolis Review – Final Send Off(Road)”

  1. Land rover man

    What i just love about the freelander is how freely and dynamically it handles. Love the well built machine.

  2. Gus Simpson

    I went to the Discovery Sport launch – and bought a Freelander Metropolis! To my mind it is far superior (though smaller in most respects). The Freelander is much more comfortable (where did the armrests go on the DS?) and I like the fact that you can open the sunroof above your head – in the DS only the back seat passengers get to see the sky! Practicality is stronger too – fold the seats on the Disco Sport and there is a sizeable gap in the boot floor where smaller items could disappear for ever. And as you say, L-R threw all the toys on the Metropolis whereas everything is cost-extra on the DS. I’m sure I’ll pay the price of heavier depreciation but I don’t care – I love my Freelander.

  3. John

    I’m on my third Freelander 2 now (2011 XS bought new, 2012 HSE used & 2013 HSE Lux used) and as you might imagine, really like them. Ultra practical, very real off road capability and such a great view out, all fitting in a compact size that’s easy to park. The superb sunroof is worthy of a mention again. Unlike most cars, it’s far enough forward to bee seen by the driver and makes for the next best thing to an open top car! Faults? I’d prefer better mpg (especially when fitted with an auto) while the seats could be larger and more comfortable. I’d like a bigger boot, but that’s hardly the car’s fault – it’s not a big car!

    I dismissed the DS as a potential replacement within less than a minute. The roof line is too low in the back, meaning that you bang your head on the edge of the roof, the command driving position is watered down, the visibility is badly compromised with all corners no longer clearly visible, it’s inexplicably hugely more expensive, it has a pointless third row of seats best suited for pixies, the sealed-for-life panoramic sunroof is utterly useless for the driver and it looks like a watered down version of the gimmicky and slightly effeminate Evoque. I know people that own them and they are happy enough, but it’s no use to me and IS NOT a valid replacement for the FL2. The FL2 should have continued alongside the DS as a sensible, entry level, proper Land Rover.

    I could stick with the last HSE Lux for years yet, but I would really like more space (it’s not that it’s small inside – far from it, it’s just that my family have no idea how to pack light!), so I’ve gone for the car I’ve wanted for years, but could never justify (afford!). A Disco 4 HSE is now on order!

  4. Ian wright

    Hi, I have had 4 new Freelanders over the last 12 years and love my current FL2 XS! It suits our outdoor lifestyle and pulls our caravan up dale and down dale with ease. It’s now 3yrs old and I am stuck. I had awaited with hopeful anticipation for the launch of the new Discovery Sport but to say I am disappointed is an understatement. I am just in the process of buying an 11 month old FL2 Metropolis and just can’t believe that Landrover have ditched a car that is so popular with 1000s of faithful owners!!!

  5. Sarah Devine

    I too am gutted that the Freelander is no longer being produced. I just cannot justify the starting price for a DS and am now considering a 2014 Freelander – the metropolis is coming in to my view, I didn’t even realise this was available until recently. Landrover have done themselves no favours by discontinuing such a popular vehicle and trying to replace it with something that will now be out of a lot peoples price range, do they not understand the current economic climate that most people are working in?

  6. peter hoskins

    Hi. I have recently bought a Freelander Metropolis 64 plate automatic. Best car I have ever had. Previously I had a Freelander SE Tech manual but following knee surgery had to change to an automatic. The pity is that I did this via a Discovery Sport which I hated; i. reduced cabin height resulting in reduced front vision and banging head on sun-visor; ii. restricted rear visibility, iii. small fuel tank with 280 miles compared to 450 in the freelander, iv. rubbish suspension with every bump felt. The DS is no replacement for the Freelander. The metropolis has a great specification including heated steering wheel. If you are a Freelander fan then forget thinking about replacing with a DS; just get another used Freelander!
    Edinburgh yellowbelly

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