The Freelander is a compact crossover SUV from Land Rover. Introduced in 1996, during the period where Land Rover was part of BMW group, it competes with the Jeep Liberty, Hummer H3 and similar vehicles, and in North America in 2002 where it pioneered the premium compact SUV segment (since joined by the less off-road capable BMW X3 and others). There are a variety of models on the market, 3-door removable-top (SE3) and 5-door versions, diesel and petrol engines. Current US Freelander models are powered by MG Rover K-Series V6 engines, and have mixed auto/manual Tiptronic-style gearboxes; most have air conditioning, power steering, power windows and other amenities standard. Diesel and 1.8 petrol Engines are also offered in Europe. There is also a van version in Europe though it is poor as an offroad van because of the lack of ground clearance and low ratio gear box.
While the Series 1 Freelander is quite suitable for moderately rugged roads, it does not have a low range gear selection to master serious inclines or sufficient clearance for broken terrain. Its ABS, traction control, hill descent control features however make driving off-road a pleasant experience.
While some reports show the Freelander to be the most popular Land Rover model in Europe, sales of the Freelander Series 1 in the United States were slow. Just 5,430 were sold in 2004, adding up to just over 33,000 sold in the three years the car was offered in that market. Just 13 Freelanders were sold in the entire United States in the first two months of 2006, making it one of the slowest-selling vehicles available.
Production of the Mk I Freelander at the Lode Lane plant in Solihull is currently being run down. The car is in process of being replaced within the next 12 months.