2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Review

Range Rover Velar

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2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Overview

Fans of upscale off-roading or just cruising around town in high style will want to take a good look at the all-new 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar midsize luxury SUV. Certainly the most streamlined and versatile vehicle ever produced by Land Rover, the Velar marks the first new SUV introduced by the automaker in a decade and fills the slot in the Range Rover lineup between the entry-level Evoque and the mid-level Sport. Land Rover's goal in launching the Velar was multifaceted—it wanted a vehicle that would continue the brand's all-terrain heritage while boosting its luxury appeal and performance capabilities. The UK-based automaker also needed a new high-end midsize SUV in its stable capable of facing off against the growing number of upscale luxury SUVs from competitors in Europe, Asia, and the U.S, and the Velar is ready to lead that charge for Land Rover into the foreseeable future.

Beneath its attractive skin, the Velar packs a long list of cutting-edge and upscale features, many of them new to the Range Rover line. The SUV's full-LED headlights are the slimmest ever on a Land Rover vehicle, and its 0.32 coefficient of drag makes it the most aerodynamically slippery SUV the automaker has ever produced. Flush deployable door handles, also new to the lineup, keep the side profile clean and unmarked, and extensive use of aluminum in the body and chassis help make it one of the lightest and most agile Land Rovers available. Inside, the new InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which consists of dual 10-inch high-definition touchscreens stacked vertically on the center console, debuts with the Velar. In a nod to sustainability, the automaker also offers available premium textile seats as an eco-friendly alternative to leather.

Unveiled at London's Design Museum in March, the Velar itself could be considered a work of artful design. Sleek, well-balanced, and eye-catching, it holds true to the automaker's credo of simple design combined with high build quality. When viewed from the sides, the Velar projects a long, low, horizontal profile, with clean, straight lines leading to a distinctive arrow-shaped rear end. The mostly smooth, rounded front end, with its high grille, low air inlets, and short overhang, departs from the current trend of jutting, 3D-style front ends with their sharp angles and geometric shapes. The clamshell hood, high waistline, low floating roof, and black window trim bring further visual appeal and draw on some of Land Rover's design heritage. Finally, the longer “boat-tailed” rear end adds balance and ensures optimal aerodynamics as well as off-road functionality.

Land Rover offers the Velar in five trims: base, S, SE, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE. All feature rear fog lights and the new flush door handles, which pop out when the doors are unlocked with the key fob and retract when the doors are locked or at speeds above 5 mph. Distinctive daytime running lights come standard at the S trim level and above. R-Dynamic trims receive a special front bumper with larger air inlets and twin chrome exhaust finishers, and optional Black Exterior and Premium Exterior packages add unique colors to the grille mesh and exterior trim. The wheels range in size from 18 to 22 inches, with a choice of four different finishes. Buyers can also select from 12 exterior colors, including Byron Blue, Firenze Red, Yulong White, and Santorini Black.

In addition to the Velar’s five regular trims, Land Rover is rolling out a First Edition trim for the SUV's first year. Limited to about 500 vehicles in the U.S. and positioned at the top of the trim lineup, it's outfitted with a full leather interior, 2-tone Windsor leather seats, a 1,600-watt Meridian 3D Surround Sound system, copper-weave carbon-fiber interior trim, and unique 22-inch wheels with a diamond-turned finish. It's available exclusively in a Corris Grey, Silicon Silver, or Flux Silver exterior color.

Naturally, the Velar performs well both on-road and off, thanks to the automaker's standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and available 4-corner air suspension system, which raises the SUV's ground clearance to almost 10 inches (from 8.4 inches with the standard coil springs) and wading depth to a lofty 25.6 inches (versus 23.6 with the coil springs). To ensure the Velar can handle any type of terrain, it comes equipped with a wide range of traction, safety, and driver-assistance features as well as a trio of engines, including a diesel powerplant.

Base power comes from a new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Ingenium gas engine, which delivers 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Featuring direct injection and variable valve lift, it drives the Velar from 0-to-60 in 6.4 seconds. It's the only engine offered for the base trim and is also available to the S, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE trims.

Buyers seeking better performance, especially for aggressive off-roading, can opt for a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 gas engine, which boosts the horsepower to 380 and torque to 332 lb-ft. Featuring a Twin-Vortex supercharger and delivering a unique engine note, it pushes the Velar to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. It's offered on the S, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE trims, and it's the only engine available for the SE and First Edition trims. Land Rover includes the available air suspension system as standard equipment on models powered by the V6.

In addition to its two gas engines, the Velar becomes the first Land Rover available with a 4-cylinder diesel powerplant. Designed for optimal fuel efficiency, the turbocharged 2.0-liter Ingenium diesel engine generates 180 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque and delivers a 0-to-60 time of 8.4 seconds. Buyers can opt for the diesel engine on the S, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE trims.

All three Velar engines link to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission designed to work seamlessly with the standard AWD system. It features an Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system and an Adaptive Dynamics damping system, which helps to improve off-road performance. Buyers can further equip their Velars with a variety of traction and stability systems designed specifically for off-roading, including an active rear locking differential, Terrain Response 2, Low-Traction Launch, Gradient Release Control, and All-Terrain Progress Control. When equipped with the V6 engine, the Velar has a towing capacity of 5,500 pounds.

The Velar sits on a 113.1-inch wheelbase, which allows for a long hood and profile as well as a roomy cabin with plenty of space for passengers and cargo. Behind the rear seats alone, the Velar offers 34.4 cubic feet of storage room. The front sport seats balance good support for aggressive maneuvers with high-end comfort for long drives. Up to 20-way power adjustment is available, along with heating, cooling, massage, and memory functions. The rear seats split 40/20/40 for maximum functionality and can be equipped with heating and reclining capabilities.

Upholstery for the Velar is trim-dependent and includes suedecloth and Luxtec for the base trim, perforated grained leather for the S and SE trims, and sporty perforated grained leather with suedecloth bolsters for the R-Dynamic SE trim. At the top of the lineup, the R-Dynamic HSE comes with the same Windsor leather upholstery and trim as the First Edition. Other standard interior features include ambient lighting and a variety of natural and textured interior trims and veneers, while options include 4-zone climate control.

Up front, the twin-screen Touch Pro Duo infotainment system takes center stage on the Velar’s console. Land Rover says the dual screens help ensure a simple dash design, keeping knobs and buttons to a minimum. The upper screen tilts for easy viewing, while the lower screen integrates with the extra-wide console located between the seats for easier driver access to the climate controls and off-roading features. Each screen also gets with its own rotary controller. The infotainment system resides in the console and provides access to vehicle functions, entertainment media, and smartphones. On the S trim and above, it also provides navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices. Four audio systems are available on the Velar, from an 8-speaker 250-watt unit to a 23-speaker Meridian Surround Sound system.

Land Rover has equipped the Velar with all the latest safety and drive-assistance features. Standard items include 6 airbags, a reversing camera, and antilock brakes, while higher trims get autonomous emergency braking, driver-condition monitoring, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, and reverse traffic detection.

With the addition of the Velar, which takes its name from some of the earliest vehicles designed by the automaker, Land Rover brings the number of SUVs in its Range Rover lineup to four, which includes the top-of-the-line premium SUV simply called the Range Rover. With six models now on the market, Land Rover is proving itself as a contender to watch out for in the luxury SUV segment.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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