Compact SUV; Built in England
  • 2-door wagon
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,000 – $7,300*


2002 Land Rover Freelander 4-door wagon


2003 Land Rover Freelander 4-door wagon


2002 Land Rover Freelander interior


2004 Land Rover Freelander SE3 2-door wagon


2004 Land Rover Freelander SE3 2-door wagon

Pros:
  • Maneuverability
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Instruments/controls

Freelander may be faulted for premium pricing, prosaic interior decor, and awkward details–like the debatable design of the rear-seat releases. For the SE3, add poor rear visibility and entry/exit. At the same time, Land Rover deserves credit for making its compact model solid, comfortable, and competent. Overall, however, its key asset is whatever cachet the Land Rover image conveys.

Overview

Land Rover launched its first compact SUV as a 2002 model. Like the British luxury 4×4 maker’s other vehicles, the big Range Rover and midsize Discovery, the Freelander was built in England.

Unibodied in construction, the new four-door wagon used a 175-horsepower V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive was standard. It lacked low-range gearing, but incorporated traction control and hill descent control, designed to limit speed down steep grades.

Antilock braking was standard, but side airbags were unavailable. Base S, SE, and top-line HSE models were offered. Standard on SE and HSE were leather upholstery and 17-inch wheels, versus 16s. The HSE included a voice-prompt navigation system, plus a sunroof that was optional on the SE.

Rivals include the slightly smaller Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute and the Honda CR-V. Land Rover is owned by Ford Motor Company.

Yearly Updates

2003 Freelander
Addition of a two-door “open-air” wagon headlined changes to Land Rover’s entry-level SUV for 2003. Named the SE3, for its two side doors plus a rear hatch, the new model was the same size as Freelander’s four-door wagon. Unlike the four-door, it had two removable roof panels over the front seats, and a removable hardtop over the rear seats and cargo area.
All Freelanders had a class-exclusive power up/down rear window in a swing-out cargo door. The SE3 came in a single trim level that included 17-inch wheels and an uplevel audio system with steering-wheel-mounted controls. Vinyl-and-fabric upholstery was standard; leather optional.
Newly standard on all Freelanders for 2003 were bodyside moldings and LATCH child-seat anchors. This year’s fuel tank held 16.9 gallons rather than 15.6.
2004 Freelander
New front styling and a revised interior marked the 2004 models. Instruments, controls, door panels, and seats were modified. The S wagon was dropped, leaving only SE and HSE models, both with leather upholstery. New standard equipment included roof rails, tinted windows, and an in-dash CD changer. Land Rover also offered the SE3 semi-convertible. All models now had 17-inch wheels.
2005 Freelander
No changes and an abbreviated lineup marks 2005 for Land Rover’s Freelander.

Engines

transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive

Each Freelander holds a dual-overhead-cam, 2.5-liter V6 engine rated at 174 horsepower, and a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive was standard on all versions.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 174
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

17/21

16.4

Road Test

Because the Freelander is heavy for a compact SUV, progress off the line is soft. Thus, the subpar 10.3 seconds for 0-60 mph acceleration in our tests. Underway, too, acceleration is far less lively than a class-leading V6 Escape, and no more responsive than the four-cylinder CR-V. Manually shifting the automatic transmission improves midrange response considerably.

Fuel economy is marginal for a compact. Freelander’s overall average of 16.4 to 17.6 mpg falls between the thirstier Jeep Liberty and the more-frugal V6 Ford Escape. Freelanders use regular-grade fuel.

This Land Rover is among the best-riding compact SUVs. Compliant but not sloppy, it takes bumps in stride and is steady on wavy surfaces. Occupants are impressively isolated from road vibrations.

Steering is tight and accurate, though some drivers might consider it slow and heavy at low speeds. A Freelander is admirably stabile at speed and in turns. Body lean is evident, but moderate. Road grip is secure in rapid changes of direction. Brakes are strong, but pedal feel is heavy and spongy, and simulated panic stops induced severe nosedive.

In quietness, Freelander scores ahead of the compact-SUV pack. You can expect modest tire whine on coarse surfaces. and the V6 is throaty under power. There’s little wind noise, though one new test model suffered a whistling wind leak from the driver’s side door.

Instruments are readable in a businesslike array; but some control markings are cryptic. Power-window switches are lit, but buried in the central console. The manual-gear selection is displayed conveniently near the speedometer.

No navigation screen is included; instead, audible directions issue from radio speakers. The hood release is inconveniently located in the right front footwell.

Overall, the cabin is less posh than the Land Rover name suggests. The thick-rim steering wheel has a classy feel, and cloth on upper doors is dapper. But hard plastic dominates the dashboard and console, spoiling any upscale mood. Test examples have suffered from an inoperative power driver’s window, and malfunctioning keyless-remote fob.

Comfortable front seats are bolstered by wraparound backrests, but might be slightly narrow for large bodies. The high-set driving position and standard heated mirrors are nice touches. So is the class-exclusive electrically heated windshield, though heating elements can generate reflections from outside light sources at night.

Rearward visibility is interrupted by the brake light support arm. It’s worse to the rear corners in the SE3, due to that model’s roof styling. The SE3’s removable roof panels lack sunshades.

Knee clearance in the rear is good, with generous foot space on the chair-height seat. The roof kick-up gives fine rear head room, too. Pop-out cupholders are mounted in the center armrest.

Narrow doors on the wagon give no serious impediment to entry/exit. Getting into the SE3 demands the typical crouch-and-crawl, worsened by the fact that front seats don’t automatically slide forward.

Though wide, the cargo bay is not long. The rear seat is counterbalanced to spring forward easily, but fold-down releases may be difficult to reach from side doors, requiring stretching over the rear bumper and through the cargo hold. The retracting tailgate window is a nice innovation in this class, but determining which operations are controlled by the key fob, dashboard button, and tailgate key lock can be confusing. Good interior storage includes ceiling nets (in the wagon), big map pockets, and handy dashboard cubbies. Removing the SE3’s rear hardtop is a tedious task.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Land Rover Freelander

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 41

Specifications

2-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.0 175.0 71.1 69.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
46.6 16.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 38.9 41.8 36.8
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.0 175.0 71.1 69.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
46.6 16.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 38.9 41.8 36.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Steering problems
Description: The vehicle may pull to one side or the other on straight, level roads requiring replacement of the rack-and-pinion steering assembly. (2002)
Wheels
Description: The wheels can be hard to remove due to corrosion between the alloy wheel and the wheel hub unless anti-seize compound is applied whenever a wheel is removed. (2002)

Recall History

2002-04
Description: In the event of a crash, the A-pillar trim doesn’t meet with safety standards when coming in contact with occupants’ heads. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-04
Description: During testing, free motion head form registered marginally above permitted head-impact criteria at left and right A-pillar trim area.
2002-05 five-door
Description: May be possible to open the door using inside handle when the child safety lever is in “on” position.
2002-05
Description: The brake lights may remain illuminated even when the brake pedal is not depressed. Hill descent control (HDC), traction control (TC) and cruise control warning lights may also be illuminated. Dealers will inspect and replace affect parts.
2003
Description: Incorrect weld nut was installed on some vehicles, which can eventually cause subframe to crack or become deformed, potentially leading to vehicle instability.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.