Land Rover aficionados will love the latest Freelander 2, but there are cheaper and just as capable compact sport utility vehicles available, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.
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The Freelander seems to be holding on to traditional attitudes and values – even though it's been revamped for 2013.
The Land Rover is conservative with a large "C", so you might be forgiven for thinking only late middle-aged, well-to-do rural types will buy it.
Clearly, this might be true because of its cautious aesthetics and country lifestyle image, but the Land Rover Freelander 2 has been given an overhaul which goes beyond looks.
That's not to say the exterior has been forgotten.
Designers have given the motor a subtle facelift, nodding here and there to the 21st century, particularly with the incorporation of LED lights.
Overhauled Freelander offers more comfort and convenience
But the real difference is that the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) now delivers a higher class of comfort and convenience.
Interior switches and equipment have improved, and a fresh centre console stars alongside a colour touch-screen and an enhanced audio system and sat-nav.
There's also an "intelligent" parking brake which adjusts brake force according to the slope you park on, and a rear view camera. Both features are new to the Freelander 2.
The vehicle's kit levels also bring a more premium feel to the overall driving experience.
This was certainly the case in my test model: the flagship HSE LUX with Windsor leather seats, grand black lacquer finish, premium carpet mats and 19-inch Diamond Turned alloy wheels.
Five-star safety rating
This is all underpinned by a maximum five-star Euro NCAP occupant safety rating.
Protection involves seven airbags, including two curtain airbags which come down from the roof at the side and protect your head and body in a side impact.
There are also two front and two thorax airbags. The latter is located in the seat and
inflates between you and the door.
Finally there's a driver's knee bag.
4WD response to different driving conditions
The Freelander 2 four wheel drive models offer the durability and sure-footed all-terrain breadth of competence that Land Rover is celebrated for.
Intelligent gadgetry responds to changes in traction to regulate torque between the front and rear axles.
You also have four simple modes accessed via a push of a button to help the Landy cope in radically different driving conditions.
These are: general driving; grass-gravel-snow; mud, ruts and sand; and gradient release control.
The latter ensures smooth hill starts for unquestionable safety and confidence on any surface.
And when it comes to "normal" on-road handling, the Freelander is very car-like in the way it behaves.
Land Rover Freelander 2: Spec
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Using a 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine, producing 187bhp, zero to 62mph is reached in 9.5 seconds.
The automatic six-speed gearbox is a delight, powering through the cogs seamlessly - but it doesn't help the fuel economy, which averages out at an underwhelming 40mpg.
Emissions are on the high side too, with the SD4 diesel model I drove pumping out 185g/km of CO2.
Given the height of the vehicle, lean into and out of corners is minimal and steering is precise.
That said, the Land Rover is still a heavy lump and should you get carried away, a plethora of stability gizmos provide a safety net for you.
These include: anti-lock braking; electronic traction control; electronic brake-force distribution; cornering brake control; emergency brake assist; and roll stability control.
Aficionados will love but cheaper SUVs available
On the whole, Land Rover aficionados will love the latest Freelander 2. and there's no denying it delivers a comfortable, reassuring drive.
Nevertheless, there are cheaper, just as capable compact SUVs on the market.
So you have to question how much extra you're paying simply to have that Green Oval badge.