News : Freelander gets a nip ‘n’ tuck for 2013

The Land Rover Freelander has received a package of updates for 2013, which its maker hopes will maintain the popularity of its core model range in the post-Evoque era. The facelift majors on the interior, which promises to be more upmarket with ‘premium’ feel. But with styling changes limited to a few minor ones that only aficionados will readily spot, it’s a definite case of evolution.

In short, to identify the ’13 Freelander, you’ll need to look out for the new colour selection, revised alloy wheels, Xenon/LED lights front and rear, and a new grille design. It’s the interior where the effort has gone – and it’s clear to see that Land Rover would like to give the Freelander a more ‘premium’ feel – so there’s a new centre console, which loses the Terrain Response dial, dropping it in favour for a smattering of control buttons.

The engine and transmission line-up remains as before – which in the UK means only the 2.2-litre turbodiesel which gets 47.1mpg and 158g/km in the lower-powered six-speed manual, front-wheel drive form.

A new sporting trim level – Dynamic – is probably the biggest news. It introduces a palette of three new upholstery colours, as well as a 7in central display screen, similar to the Range Rover’s. It’s here that the upgraded sat-nav system, with voice-control and reversing camera are driven from. As befitting its top-model status, the Dynamic receives a bodykit, gloss black exterior detailing, and sports seats. And 19in alloys. Evoque owners will probably wonder what all the fuss is about…

There’s also a new dashboard-mounted 5in screen between the dials, and the new Freelander loses its docking station key in favour of a new keyless go system.

Aside from the sporting Dynamic model, there’s the S, GS and XS – the latter coming with a 380w Meridian hi-fi system, which we know sounds very effective in the Evoque. For those who dare not to venture off-road, the HSE is their car – with a wood ‘n’ leather interior experience, a panoramic sunroof, and 825w Meridian audio system. And it the top of the tree, there’s also the new HSE Lux – a Landie with Rangie ambitions.

Increasingly, it would seem that Land Rover is opening the door for its forthcoming entry-level model, Project Icon, due in less than three years. The new car, which will look very similar to the DC100 (and will also finally replace the Defender on European price lists) will more more lifestyle oriented, and priced to compete with the crossover imports. Where have we heard that before?

The facelift Freelanders are expected to cost around £1000 more than their older counterparts.


Keith Adams


  1. Couldn’t they just have introduced a more basic Ewok? I’m not sure the Freelander really makes a lot of sense anymore.

  2. As someone who does nearly 40,000 miles a year in a 2011 MY Freelander, I can tell you that the Freelander still definitely has a purpose. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Evoque, but the Freelander sacrifices outright style for being hugely more practical, with much larger glass area, substantially more space inside and a much better approach angle when off road.

    There are a number of things that are disappointing though:

    1. The interior titivation will mean little to the average Freelander driver, although the loss of the stupid “docking station” for the key is almost as good as moving back to a proper ignition key slot in the side of the steering column!

    2. The change in the lifts look pleasant enough, I just hope that they’ve left very bright twin reversing lamps, two foglamps and have taken the opportunity to make the headlamps a lot brighter without having to lay out a grand for Xenons.

    3. The fact that the CO2 figures remain unchanged, when the Evoque’s are substantially lower, is a serious omission. The company car tax implications of 165g, for a manual 4WD Freelander, are substantial.

  3. Oops, typing error on point 2; “lifts” should read “lights”.

    While I think about it, slightly less rubbish seats would have been nice too. The seats are the single worst aspect of the Freelander.

  4. @Tigger,

    You drive one, I don’t, so if you see a purpose for the Freelander 2, then I am not in a position to argue, so best of luck.

    Could do with a restyle though, at present, the best looking Land Rover products seem to be the evergreen (albeit ageing) Defender, and the Disco 4- the latter car is something that morally I really should abhor, but somehow there is a part of me that aches to own one…

    Damn you, JLR!!

  5. @ Chris,

    Got to agree with everything you said about the Disco 4; the dealer lent me one to try for the weekend and I absolutely loved it! I could never justify the running costs though….

  6. The Freelander certainly needed updating in view of the recent and continuous updates to the rest of the Land Rover product portfolio. And yes, Chris, I agree with you about the Discovery 4; I really do want to own one myself.

    But there are still two things I am disappointed about with the 2013 MY Freelander: 1. the main dashboard fascia really could have done with something to break up such a large expanse of very dark and depressing looking grey plastic (contrasting air vent colours in a silver might have helped). 2. I am still missing the Freelander 3-door variant, although appreciate that this would never have been a viable proposition on a model that is nearly six years old.

    Apart from these observations I like the changes Land Rover has introduced on the Freelander. Despite all the recent awards and plenty of back-smacking within Land Rover over the success of the Evoque, there is still something rather more honest and appealing about the Freelander…

  7. Looks good but it’s mild tinkering to an ageing model. Is a Freelander 3 in the pipeline, or will it be killed off when the Defender replacement comes on line with all its variants?

  8. Does anyone else get the feeling that Land Rover and Range Rover will be completely separated into different brands for different target markets?

    Range Rover for more premium luxury based 4x4s and Land Rover for utility and entry level luxury vehicles? Would work.

    And I know we’ve discussed it many times but a Jaguar and Rover grouping might have a similar effect. Expanding Tata’s portfolio- although certainly in the short to mid-term future, this would be extremely unlikely to happen.

  9. @11, The Saint,

    Looking at the specs of the Discovery, that car is very definately in the ‘luxury’ sphere- albeit it is a more practical family vehicle than the Range Rover or the Sport, hence the unavailability of a petrol option in the UK. I guess if they’d introduced the Disco now then it would have been a Range Rover Discovery not a Land Rover. The demarcation is therefore not very clear-cut.

  10. I still think Land and Range Rovers used to appeal because they did “sacrifice outright style for being hugely more practical”
    I feel the new ones tend to sacrifice outright practicality for being hugely more stylish in a purely “blingish” way. Reminds me of hotel rooms and plastic candelabras.

  11. I think that thhis is far better than the over stylised and easily datable Evoque, while the Freelander is instantly reconisable and has just evolved nicely over the years much like the Range Rover. I just hope that JLR dont go down the Jaguar route of re-inventing the design language without looking at the history. The Xj is just an ugly slab sided jelly mould and could have been lifted with some old Jag stylying like rear haunches. At least the XF has some Jag style, with a similar side crease that matches the old JS. Land Rover’s new Rangie does look like they have kept most of the design cues but have added some rather naff lights and side slots on the doors, but I fear that they will go down the same new design changes. Audi, who have grown in sales since the 80’s, have just evolved their designs since then and have kept the changes minimal at every evolution. People buy Audis instead of BMW and Mercedes as they are more reserved and tasteful compared to the blingy opposition.

  12. I quite like what they’ve done. Certainly it was the interior that needed the attention. But, really, does it need to have all the bling on the outside to make it look more upmarket. What happened to understated luxury?

    @ Tigger – as you have a Freelander, what’s it like on the motorway. What Car et al claim that it suffers from suspension and wind noise, and the engine is noisy when using the upper revs. is this so?

  13. @ 14 – Daveh
    “People buy Audis instead of BMW and Mercedes as they are more reserved and tasteful compared to the blingy opposition.”
    I think Aui are moving away from the lack of bling – LED lights twinkling throughout the day, shouting “Look, I’m an Audi – you can’t tell which one i am cos we all look alike!”

    It’s only when they get close enough (and boy, they do, don’t they) that you can tell which one it is. If it takes up only two thirds of your rear view mirror, it an A1, if it takes all of your mirror, its at least an A6, if all you can see is the grille, and the lights are above your field of vision, its the silly Q7 etc etc etc

  14. @ ric unfortunately all cars sold in th eu will require running lights ala Audi and their LED’s. They install LEDS cause they are cheap and use little energy. So you will soon get a Sprinter on your tailgate!

  15. It’s worth saying that outside of Europe, the engine and transmission line-up does not remain as before. The 3.2 Volvo straight six being replaced by the 2.0 direct injection turbo four from the Evoque.

  16. I undersatnd that Freelander sales have increased slightly since the Evoque went on sale, as it benefits from the publicity and showrrom footfall generated by its’ stylish cousin

  17. Ric @ 15:

    “@ Tigger – as you have a Freelander, what’s it like on the motorway. What Car et al claim that it suffers from suspension and wind noise, and the engine is noisy when using the upper revs. is this so?”

    The engine is no noisier than any other large modern turbo diesel when revved hard and a lot quieter than many at motorway speed. At 70mph it equates to 2,000rpm in 6th and there’s significantly less engine noise than in my previous 6 speed Volvo V70 D5 which, in turn, is significantly quieter than my Mk2 Focus RS.

    There is never any suspension noise.

    There is some wind noise, it’s about the same amount that I got in my old R53 Cooper S MINI (the supercharged BMW one). It can be heard at 80+, but it’s never an issue. I’ve just driven from Cornwall to the Scottish borders and I never gave it a second thought.

    What you do notice on a 400+ mile journey is that the seats are a bit cr*p! Something that hasn’t changed one jot in the facelift…

  18. @Tigger:

    I am glad you have brought up the issue of the seats up as this is one area where Land Rover does need to improve on.

    I hae driven first, second and third generation Range Rovers and found the seats to be very comfortable. However, those in the Series 1 and 2 Discovery and 1st generation Freelander were dreadful, particulary for upper back support and comfortable head restraints. In all of these latter cars I have ended up with back ache after just 90 minutes sat in the driver’s seat.

  19. @David:

    On the FL2 it’s the seat squab which is too short, narrow, flat and hard to properly qualify as a seat! My wife now takes a cushion with her on long journeys…

    Meanwhile, those in the Disco 4 are perfect 🙂

  20. [rant]I’ve just looked in this month’s copy What Car? and seen that there are some backwards steps on this 2013 version:

    1. The arrival of the cursed gimmick of the 2010’s – the electric handbrake! Arghhh!

    2. The removal of the huge (and beautifully over engineered) Terrain Response knob, being replaced by some poxy flush fitting buttons that wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi A something-or-other. Not only will it now not be possible to operate with gloves on (a Land Rover design nicety!) but it lacks the sense of occasion when going off road.

    3. Where’s my nice big, Fisher-Price, telephone key pad gone?

    4. The less said about that naff new shade of baby blue, the better![/rant]

  21. Another FL2 owner coming to the rescue of Tigger!

    To non-FL2 owners you may think the FL2 is past its day and unworthy of a facelift. 2 years ago the FL2 had a mild external makeover so this time around it was only ever going to be in the inside that needed updating – something FL2 owners have been asking for quite a while now.

    Dont forget the FL2 is only 6 years old so there wont be a FL3 for another 2 or 3 years yet – I think you will agree that most manufacturers try to get 9 or 10 years out of a model.

    The Evoque is not a comparable model to the FL2. I have driven an Evoque and didnt like it, you sit very low down, the side windows are too narrow not to mention the letter box rear window. For me its totally impractical and would stick with the FL2 everytime. The Evoque looks very nice dont get me wrong but it really is design over practicality.

    @ Tigger – did you ever use the fisher price keypad? The new model comes with voice activation so quess the keypad is redundant.

  22. Thanks for the support there Smithy 🙂

    I use the keypad all the time (my car is my office!), but voice activation will do nicely as a replacement, if it works as well as it does in the Focus that I use when I’m not driving the FL.

    I think I’m one of the few that actually likes the original dash design in the FL2. It’s all very low down and unobtrusive, giving a huge feeling of spaciousness in the front seats. The sloping dash top reminds me (in a good way) of the dash in my first Citroen XM.

    To think that I sold that car nearly 17 years ago and it still seems ultra modern to me!

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