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2002 Land Rover Freelander

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2002 Land Rover Freelander Review

Small SUV lacks the capability expected of a Land Rover.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Land Rover Freelander is a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) that makes its debut in the American market in 2002. It faces stiff competition in this popular and coveted segment. It lacks the serious off-road capabilities promised by the Land Rover name. It is also short on cargo space and has limited power from a slightly weak V-6. It does offer nice luxury, handling, and comfort, but it is by no means a class leader. At this stage, it's a more expensive Jeep Liberty, although the price isn’t bad for a Land Rover, it's the steepest in this segment.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed Steptronic automatic
Models: Land Rover Freelander S, Land Rover Freelander SE, Land Rover Freelander HSE

What's New

The 2002 Land Rover Freelander is new to America and the first new Land Rover in about seven years. It's expected to boost U.S. sales by 50 percent by offering the go-anywhere cachet of the LR brand name and the daily drivability of a small SUV.


The 2002 Land Rover Freelander compact SUV is available in three trims: S, SE, and HSE. The S trim starts off with 16-inch alloy wheels, matching spare wheel/tire, skid plates, intermittent wipers, rear wiper, rear defogger, power retracting liftgate window, rear side-hinged door, power door mirrors, heated door mirrors, and four-wheel independent suspension. The SE trim has an option for a power moonroof that is standard on the HSE trim level. Front fog lights are optional for all trim levels.


The 2002 Land Rover Freelander S trim has a respectable list of standard amenities and appointments, including power locks, power windows, remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, cruise control, power steering, cruise controls on steering wheel, premium audio system with AM/FM and CD player, cloth seats, and driver seat with adjustable lumbar support. The SE adds steering wheel mounted audio controls, tinted glass, leather upholstery, and leather trim on the steering wheel. The HSE trim throws in a remote CD player and navigation system. Heated seats are optional for all trim levels.

The 2002 Land Rover Freelander has space for five occupants and some but not much cargo. Cargo space is 19.3 cubic feet with the seat in use and a measly 46.6 cubic feet with the seat folded. The interior offers ergonomics not quite as quirky as other Land Rover vehicles. The cabin can be black or gray and the rear seating is stadium-style with a 60/40 split-folding backrest.

Performance & Handling

The 2002 Land Rover Freelander employs a new 2.5-liter, 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam, V-6 engine that produces 174 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque and mates to a five-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Full-time, four-wheel drive is standard, and the center viscous coupling is similar to that used on the big Range Rover. The transmission operates in Sport or Manual-Steptronic mode. The new V-6 was designed to be smooth and quiet, but it's less powerful than many its rivals’ V-6 engines. Acceleration is uninspired and lagging the class. It runs the zero-to-60-mph test in a subpar 10.3 seconds and acceleration at higher speeds is no more impressive. When performing traffic maneuvers that require acceleration, it is best to plan ahead and execute accordingly. The Honda CR-V performs better with a four-cylinder.

The 2002 Land Rover Freelander's handling is stable with tight and responsive steering that can get a bit heavy at lower speeds. There is some body lean, but it's not bad for an SUV, albeit a compact one. The grip is impressive and confidence-inspiring. Despite the heavy and spongy feeling brakes, it stops well in a safe distance. The ride is a real selling point as occupants are sealed off from feeling anything in the road and the plush travel will appease the most sensitive occupants. The noise level is kept way down, putting this Land Rover ahead of its compact SUV rivals with a serene cabin.


The 2002 Land Rover Freelander has a solid list of standard safety equipment, including all-terrain anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual front impact airbags, child seat anchors, anti-theft alarm system, rear door child safety locks, rear center three-point belt, front seatbelt pretensioners, and traction control. Side impact airbags are not available. The NHTSA has not tested the Freelander for crash safety. In IIHS tests, it earned the highest rating of ""good"" for frontal offset crash safety but the lowest rating of ""poor"" for side impact safety.

EPA Fuel Economy

Land Rover Freelander all trims: 15/19 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Hill Descent Control
  • Steptronic automanual transmission
  • Permanent all-wheel drive
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Maneuverability
  • Visibility

You Won't Like

  • Instrument controls
  • Rear drum brakes
  • Priciest in class
  • Lacking cargo space
  • Weak V-6

Sum Up

Small SUV lacks the capability expected of a Land Rover.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Lexus RX300
  • Jeep Liberty
  • Isuzu Rodeo
  • Mitsubishi Montero Sport
  • Nissan Xterra

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