Baby Land Rover free to roam in style

Iain Dooley checks out Land Rover's popular and capable sport utility vehicle – the Freelander 2.

Engines – Realistically the Freelander is best chosen with a diesel engine. For performance and cost reasons Land Rover's 2.2-litre oil-burner is the better option over the thirstier petrol V6. It's not as quiet but it's much more capable and, crucially, more wallet-friendly.

Exterior – Instantly recognisable as a Land Rover, albeit a small one, the post-2006 Freelander's chunky exterior strikes the right balance between go-anywhere ruggedness and urban cool.

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Interior – Being a Land Rover product, the Freelander's cabin is that bit more luxurious than your average compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). There's plenty of space for adults or a growing family, and the car's rear load area is flat, wide and easily accessible via generously-dimensioned tailgate.

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Driving – Despite lacking the fancy technology of its bigger stablemates, the all-wheel drive is surprisingly capable. Factor in the Terrain Response control – you can dial in mud, sand, gravel etc – to fine-tune the car's systems and its performance will impress. On road the car is no slouch either, and will happily blend in with urban traffic.

Ownership – For such a capable SUV, the Freelander couldn't be further from the towering, oversize 'Chelsea Tractor' stereotype. Easy to live with and drive, the baby Land Rover behaves much like an oversize family hatchback. It's spacious too, which should please family buyers.

What to look for – Being an off-roader it's wise to check for underbody damage and ensure the car's transmission and suspension work as described. And on something this new a comprehensive service history is a must, even it's from a trusted independent outlet.

Model history – 2006, Land Rover launches second-generation Freelander compact SUV. New look is supported by improved engineering and equipment plus enhanced off-road capability. 2009 saw introduction of fuel-saving engine stop-start for diesel manual variants.

Reasons to buy – Brand values, reputation, off-road ability, refinement, diesel performance.

Reasons to beware – Thirsty petrol variant, potentially overkill for those who don't go off-road or tow.

Pick of the range – Freelander 2.2 TD4 XS.

What to pay – 2006 56 �16,000; 2007 07 �17,350; 2007 57 �17,875; 2008 08 �19,750; 2008 58 �20,300; 2009 09 �22,025; 2009 59 �23,025. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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