Land Rover North America has launched a new web site for the Freelander, a compact SUV due to go on sale in December.

The model is one of an evolving breed of 'lifestyle' vehicles also called CUVs (crossover utility vehicles) because of their integrated, car-like body/platform construction rather than a separate light truck-based chassis. Rivals will include Toyota's RAV4, Honda's CR-V and the Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute clones.

The new Land Rover website, www.freelander.com, gives potential buyers a preview of a model which has so far been shown publicly in the U.S. only at motor shows.

Information includes early press reviews and specifications. Website visitors can also register for regularly updated promotional material and, from summer, order vehicles.

Although it has been sold with four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines in other markets since 1997, the Freelander will have taken over four years to reach the U.S. when it is launched in December.

Two reasons for the delay - the lack of a V6 engine and an automatic transmission - were only addressed when the model was updated last year, when a new BMW diesel engine also replaced the previous Rover unit.

The U.S. version will have initially only the V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive with four-wheel electronic traction control.


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