My partner decided she wanted a Freelander because of the image and because it looked safe (a consideration as we have a young kid). When she makes her mind up she wants a particular motor, that's it.
We went to our local Range Rover dealer and within a short space of time the ink was dry on the Contract. No matter that I told the Salesman I was not buying the car, it was my partner, he kept looking at me when explaining the features and trying to get a decision. In the end I walked off and got a cup of coffee
We previously had a Renault Scienic which was a reasonable price, a very good spec and which I was quite attached to. Twin glass electric sunroof, leather seats, storage boxes under the floor, tip down tables, opening rear window and the best climate control system I've ever known. It coped with temperatures of 35degrees in France with no effort and kept the holiday groceries fresh. It also bounced around in a particularily smooth, gallic, way. No matter that it had a rather puny engine and looked like a boring family runabout.
With the Freelander, the style makes more of an aggressive statement. Ours is black and has front bullbars (well a toned down version of a bullbar). On the plus side, people do not tend to cut you up. BMW drivers think twice about overtaking. The way the tailgate opens sideways is novel, but you have to be careful not to park close to obstructions. I like the way you have to climb into it - how when I get hire cars it is like sitting in a pedal car with your backside on the road.
There is a lot of downside for the price though. It is a bit lumpen to drive, downright uncomfortable in the back over speed humps and twisty roads. The air con is not very effective. Slow to cool the car down, and takes a while to demist the windows in winter (its the first car we've had serious demisting problems).
There is no external temperature gauge, quite surprising in a car this price.
The door hinges started squeaking the rasping a lot when it was a year old despite capious amounts of WD40. The plastic cills can get slippery when wet and you can lose your footing. The fuel consumption is poor. Overall I feel the engine has a lot of metal to drag around.
Being black, it shows off every minor scratch. Since we had bought it for safety, it was disconcerting to see Jeremy Clarkson demonstrating on TV that it is not very good at handling a major impact.
I get a feeling of security with this car but the lack of features is rather disappointing. I think people will buy it more for image than performance.