Introduced for 2018, Range Rover Velar follows a fresh design path and winds up as a stunning rendition of the authentic SUV. A sleek, gorgeous shape reveals a long hood, sloping roofline, and big open wheel arches. Its designer even omitted door handles, which might detract visually from the gracious body lines.
Gambling on uncommon beauty, inside and out, Land Rover hit a home run with Velar, creating a new benchmark in the luxury SUV category. Rugged, offroad-ready hardware, lets the new Velar live up to Land Rover heritage and its record of rough-country dominance.
A midsize luxury SUV, Velar is smaller than Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport but larger than the Evoque. It shares powertrains and a similar structure with the new Jaguar F-Pace.
Velar comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque.
Land Rover also offers a turbodiesel four-cylinder option. Particularly adept off-road, the diesel generates 180 horsepower and a brawny 317 pound-feet of torque, available at low engine speeds. The fuel-efficient turbodiesel yields up to 30 mpg in highway driving.
Each engine mates with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Velars are rated to tow up to 5,500 pounds with a V6, or 5,200 pounds with the turbo four.
Range Rover offers five trim levels: standard, S, SE, HSE, and the limited-production First Edition. All three engines are available in S, SE, and HSE trim, but that standard version comes only with the gasoline four-cylinder and the First Edition is V6-only. Only 500 First Editions are to be built.
All Velars come with automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and lane-departure warning. R-Dynamic trim levels add blind-spot monitoring, drowsy driver monitoring, traffic sign detection, and adaptive speed limiter. R-Dynamic HSE includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, and lane-keep assist.
Velar P250 R-Dynamic SE ($60,100) includes 20-inch wheels, 17-speaker audio, a 12.3-inch driver information cluster, aluminum interior accents, and advanced safety features. Velar P250 R-Dynamic HSE ($67,600) comes with 22-inch wheels, 20-way power seats with memory and massage, heated/cooled front seats, and additional safety features.
The more powerful supercharged 3.0-liter V6 comes with the Velar P380 S ($64,200), P380 R-Dynamic SE ($69,600), P380 R-Dynamic HSE ($77,100). The P380 First Edition ($89,300) features 22-inch wheels, a full extended leather interior with two-tone seats, 23-speaker 1600-watt Meridian sound, head-up display, and surround-view camera. A Fitbit-like activity key can replace the keyfob.
The 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine comes with the Velar D180 S ($56,200), D180 R-Dynamic SE ($61,600), and D180 R-Dynamic HSE ($69,100).
Evolved from Jaguar’s F-Pace, the cleanly profiled Velar shies away from superfluous curves, omits door handles, and holds back on decoration. Up front, the hood seems unusually long. An uninterrupted character line extends back from the headlights.
Designers maintained a pinpoint focus on basic proportions. As a result, the Velar is the most aerodynamically efficient vehicle in Land Rover’s history.
If the Velar’s exterior represents a narrowed focus, its cabin takes an opposing path, emphasizing expressive lines, colors, and detail work. Sleekly modern, it’s one of Range Rover’s prime examples of interior opulence.
Otherwise understated, the central console holds twin 10-inch infotainment touchscreens. Upper trim levels add a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The infotainment system not only looks great, it responds well, despite lacking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Front seats promise comfort during the longest drives. Rear seats are reasonably comfortable for most riders, but short on legroom for taller passengers. With rear seatbacks upright, cargo volume totals 34.4 cubic feet, expanding to 70.1 cubic feet with those seats folded down.
Acceleration to 60 mph takes only a second longer with the gasoline turbo four, which doesn’t emit a confident note when pushed. Passing demands some planning ahead.
Despite abundant sound-deadening material, even the V6 doesn’t sound satisfying when accelerating hard. Picking the turbodiesel costs only $1,500 additional, though its economic value is most notable in long highway trips.
Behaving willingly but unobtrusively, the 8-speed automatic blends into the background. Slight hesitation might stifle downshifting to pass, with the four-cylinder engine. Paddle shifters help.
While steering accurately and confidently, the Velar provides limited feel through the steering wheel. Even in Sport mode, electric power steering feels somewhat artificial.
Big tires translate to a relatively rough ride. Picking tires no bigger than 20-inch is a sensible compromise, but a V6 version with its adjustable suspension might be wiser yet.
Off road, Velar performs as expected of a Land Rover, extremely well, in other words.
Neither Velar nor its rivals qualify as frugal. V6 versions are EPA-rated at 18/24 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. Gasoline-powered turbo-four models rate higher: 21/27/23 mpg. Turbodiesel models are the most efficient, EPA-rated at 26/30 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined.
Every luscious Velar is opulently trimmed, down to the base model with its leatherette upholstery. Front seats are superior, cargo space excellent, materials exceptional. Technology is admirable, though active-safety features come mainly on upper trim levels. Multi-screen infotainment ranks as remarkable.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.