The British brand plans to unveil the redesigned Land Rover Freelander mid-size crossover SUV (in the U.S., it will sell as LR2) at the upcoming 2006 British Motor Show that will be held in July in London.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new car seems to look a lot classier with more streamlined design and less unpainted plastic. It is also nice to know that, as elegant and cool as it is, the vehicle retains its impressive off-road capabilities, although its prowess on a paved road (especially if you place it side by side with its main rival: the BMW X3) still needs to be proved.
The British lads seem to be good learners. Gracefully admitting their initial failure to offer American customers a decent entry-level premium SUV, they managed to create a brand new model that does look more appealing to an American eye. With its well-crafted interior and an elegant body that was probably designed to make the car look more in line with a lot more expensive Range Rover crossovers, the vehicle looks classy and refined: not as dull and boring as your average daily beater.
Details are scarce at best, but industry sources say that the upcoming SUV will be powered by a new, 3.2-liter V6 engine with a maximum output of 230 hp. The gas-burning powerplant can be mated with either an automatic or a manual gearbox.
As far as I understand, there will also be an oil-burner: a 2.2-liter 160 hp job that will be outsourced from the French conglomerate PSA.
Released six years ago, the diesel engine powers both the Citroen C5 and an even bulkier Peugeot 607, so it must be adequate for the task of efficiently moving a mid-size sports utility vehicle from point A to point B.
I still doubt, however, that the fuel-efficient engine will be offered to American motorists.
The vehicle will also possibly feature such plush feature as standard leather seats (so, the rest of the interior trim will probably be decorated with leather imitation,) a two-part panoramic sunroof and a six-disc Alpine entertainment system.
As you can see on the photo below, the new Freelander comes with a lot more comfortable cabin. Although the central stack on the dashboard looks a bit intimidating with all the buttons surrounding the monochromatic LCD display of the stereo system, it also looks a lot more ergonomic with easy to reach A/C controls and a nicely proportionate steering wheel. I only hope that the large LCD display that comes with the navigation system is responsive and fast enough as to not be dangerous in case you need to change something right on the road.
The British company also hinted on at least two or three of additional packages: a technology package that will include an integrated navigation system, a cold weather package (hopefully, it will include not only heated windscreen washers, but an engine block heater as well) and, perhaps, a lighting package.
Set to compete against the BMW X3 and Acura RDX, the compact crossover will possibly be priced in the $35,000 region for the basic version.
Land Rover plans to ship first vehicle across the Atlantic early next year.
So far, the only thing that may undermine the new model’s market success is the British brand’s poor initial quality record. After all, there are not so many people ready to trade their peace of mind for a fancy look and comfortable interior.
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Photos: Land Rover