First drive review: 2013 Land Rover Freelander

2013 Land Rover FreelanderLand Rover

Land Rover has given its perennial premium compact SUV a nip and tuck for 2013 – but is it enough to keep buyers interested in the off-roader? AOL Cars takes it for a spin in the icy wilds of snow-blown Canada.

What is it?
Land Rover's perennial compact SUV given a little wipe over with the flannel to freshen it up. The changes aren't huge inside or out, but they're enough to give it a new lease of life. Some smart new headlights, new rear tail-lights that look like dumpy red snowmen, and a more striking grille are the talking points outside. Inside it's had more attention with an Evoque-ess makeover.
What's under the bonnet?
There are two diesel units – both 2.2-litres in size but with different power outputs: 147bhp and 187bhp, they both offer four-wheel drive. There's also a 148bhp version in two-wheel drive form, but quite why you'd opt for that we have no idea apart from its lower CO2 emissions. We tried a brilliant 2.0-litre petrol engine too on our road test in Canada, but sadly this won't be coming to the UK. In fact, it was actually our pick of the bunch.

2013 Land Rover Freelander
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First drive review: 2013 Land Rover Freelander

What's the kit like?
It's inside where the manufacturer has really gone to work. The centre console is new and the old Terrain Response dial has been swapped for buttons from the Evoque. A new instrument cluster has been installed which has a five inch display that offers the important details. It's now got keyless go, a brilliant hitch assist that helps drivers line up their tow bar and clever voice activation. There are three new colours to choose from paint wise and the stereo system provided by Meridian is nothing short of extravagant.

Any rivals?
Lots, and that's the problem. Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60 and VW Tiguan all represent very talented and capable alternatives to the rugged Brit. All are newer than the Freelander and are tough competition to the Land Rover.

2013 Land Rover FreelanderLand Rover

Is it any good?
If you were hoping for a whole new car, you'll be sorely disappointed. This revision is a nip and tuck at best bringing its styling into line with the other, newer models in the range. However there's no denying that the Freelander is extremely capable off-road – some of the terrain we tackled on the launch was positively frightening and it sailed through it.

The AOL Cars verdict
The revisions inside bring the Freelander up to date, but we'd rather hoped they'd have done more with the exterior. The new lights are striking, but nowhere near as bold as its sister cars which is a shame, however its capability off road can't be doubted and despite its age we still think it's a rugged alternative to some often rather boring Germanic offerings. Worth a look for the pony-pulling set.

The Knowledge
Model: Land Rover Freelander SD4 HSE Lux
Price: £39,805
Engine: 2.2-litre, diesel
Power: 187bhp, 420Nm
Max speed: 118mph
0-60mph: 8.7s
MPG (comb'd): 40.4
Emissions: 185g/km
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