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Land Rover All Over? by TCC Team (9/3/2001)
The sky is the rich blue of mid-summer, the air crisp and fresh and warm enough to start melting the ancient ice of the Langsjokull Glacier. Rivulets of frigid water race through the crevices that have opened up below our wheels, slowing the convoy of Freelanders heading towards the ice mountain’s summit.
Welcome to the center of the earth, or more precisely, the place where Jules Verne, grandfather of science fiction, began his epic tale of exploration. Iceland was a fitting place for Verne to start the “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” It’s a sparsely populated volcanic crag that has risen out of the North Atlantic at the point where the North American and European tectonic plates are pulling apart. The island’s mountain peaks are capped with snow and ice, its valleys filled with mist steaming from fissures leading to the volcanic cauldrons bubbling below.
2002 Land Rover FreelanderEnlarge Photo
Iceland was an equally fitting place to take the new Freelander, which in December will become the latest addition to Land Rover’s U.S. line-up. To be more precise, Freelander isn’t new. The compact sport-utility vehicle was introduced in Europe in Autumn 1997. But it made its debut with a pair of engines far too under-powered for the American market, so Land Rover decided to delay the U.S. launch until it was time for a mid-cycle update.
Complicating matters was the financial crisis that forced BMW to sell off most of its British holdings (it has kept only Mini). The SUV maker was acquired early last year by Ford Motor Co., which is beginning the process of blending Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin into one giant British super-group.