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Bought, drove and sold 3 Freelanders between 1998 and 2002. Started out with the 1.8 litre petrol, then the 2 litre Rover diesel, and finally the Td4 which is powered by the BMW 2 litre engine that won awards in the BMW 320d.
The Td4 was by far the best of the 3 that I owned. For one, by then, Landrover's build quality had improved drastically. By comparison, where the 1.8 litre spent 3 months in the workshop and the 2 litre Rover 6 weeks in the shop, the Td4 spent 4 days in the shop over the period I owned it (12 months).
Drove the Td4 on-road, off-road on rocky terrain, on the beach, and in muddy conditions. It performed much better than the 2 previous models I had owned for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the Td4 delivers a lot more torque than the other two models - especially useful for overtaking, and for offroad 4x4-ing. Secondly, this particular one had 16" rims, so gave a little bit more ground clearance - most useful for offroading.
On-road the Td4 handles very smoothly, but be warned: All the Freelanders suffer from a fair bit of body roll. Anyone who has driven a Volkswagen Golf hatch back will feel right at home behind the wheel of the Freelander. It does have a tendency to wallow round corners, which can feel disconcerting to someone who has not experienced it before, but you do get used to it. Just don't over-do it!
Recommended colours to go for are NON-metallic. The Landrover metallic paints show up the slightest scratch VERY easily. If you have kids, the leather upholstery is a must, as it's wipe clean advantages far outweigh the additional cost over the cloth upholstery.
In car audio was adequate (I did add the 6 disc CD changer that was available at the time), but audio freaks may want to investigate upgrading the audio. Landrover normally use Philips head units badged "Landrover", so be aware of compatibility issues with wire-harness.
Worthwhile accessories to add (and there are MANY to choose from!):
- Rubber interior mats (especially good when you are out in the mud!) - interior sun blinds (option on the 3door) - bullbar/nudgebar and spotlight kit (Safari 3000 spots) - adds a nice amount of additional front illumination - very good on dark winding country lanes - Side bump strips - protect the doors in the parking lot from other cars, supermarket trollies etc
WARNING: The Freelander is not a SERIOUS heavy duty offroader. Know the limits and stick to them. Best way to learn about them is see if you can join your local Landrover Owner's Club (local clubs all over the world). Meet other owners, go on some "novice" and "small 4x4" friendly excursions (just day trips on weekends normally) so you can learn the limits.
If you try to drive over or through something a bit too extreme this is unfortunately one Landy you could break - Expensively! The electronics are pricey to replace if flooded (as is the engine!) and the exhaust, drive train and undercarriage is not up to heavy rock bashing. Hot clutch smell when you're stuck is a sign to STOP NOW and get a good tow out of the mud/sand!