Land Rover Freelander: baptism of snow

  • Arrival of new long termer proves very timely
  • Faces snow and icy roads to test the 4x4 drive system
  • Top spec HSE Lux model is new for 2013

Given that this is one of the longest winters we have had to endure, the arrival of the new Parkers long termer couldn’t be more apt.

The Land Rover Freelander SD4 HSE Lux sits at the top of the range and comes with the more powerful diesel engine (187bhp rather than 157bhp for the Td4).

The upside is overtaking is so much easier and the automatic gearbox is quick to respond with a down change if I prod the accelerator hard. You can speed gear changes further by selecting either the sport mode or the manual override.  

On dual carriageways and motorways the Freelander has no problem holding its own with faster moving traffic. A definite flick of the right foot has the Land Rover surging out into the fast lane to clear slower moving traffic without hassle.

On the fuel front any 4x4 is not going to be the kindest to wallets but the company reckons the Freelander should sup a gallon of diesel every 40 miles; so that’s a theoretical 600-mile tank range.

At the moment the car’s trip computer reveals the engine is managing 30.2mpg, which adds up to 450 miles from a tank. I’ll be looking to maximise the range and see if I can get closer to the claimed average fuel consumption.

There’s no doubting the luxury spec of the car though. The HSE Lux is, unsurprisingly, the HSE spec but with pretty much all the optional extras included as standard.

So there is a sea of leather inside the car, full electric adjustment of the front seats which are also heated, there’s a reversing camera with helpful guide lines to assist with hitching up trailers and caravans, and a touchscreen with sat nav, DAB radio, MP3 connection and Bluetooth phone connection.

Hell there is even a heated steering wheel, something only normal found on a Range Rover.

The only optional extra fitted to the car is a full size spare wheel at a cost of £185, something I would pay for so there's a straight replacement should a puncture occur.

The central console was redesigned for the 2013 model range and has a very useful cubby space under a sliding cover. There is a USB, aux and power point connection so hooking up an MP3 player is no problem.

A nice touch is that at night the sockets glow with a soft white light so I'm not  fumbling with leads and cursing while I try to feel how to insert the connector into the relevant socket.

The interior may be luxurious but at heart the Freelander remains one of the best 4x4s when it comes to off-roading and handling tricky conditions under tyre.

It had only just joined the Parkers test fleet when winter reared its ugly head and dumped snow on much of the UK.

I was driving back home along country lanes that already had a good coating of snow, but one particular exposed road had snow drifts up to a foot deep.

The Freelander makes tackling such conditions straight forward for the driver. Firstly it has a mode selector to match the road or track conditions.

Land Rover call it the 'All Terrain Response' system and it has handy arrows which allowed me to select the snow mode, which was confirmed on the central display. Dead easy. Then all I had to do was go easy on the throttle and steer the car through the slippery snow.

With these hard and prolonged winters it’s not hard to see why 4x4s are still proving popular buys.

Over the next couple of months I will be assessing whether the Freelander has still got what it takes to cut it in an increasingly competitive market of family off-roaders and crossovers, but there is no doubting its capabilities as an outright 4x4.

Land Rover Freelander interior

Interior comes with full leather, heated front seats and touchscreen

Total mileage: 5,098 miles

Average mpg: 30.2mpg