Moneyed people can be picky, which likely is one reason for the all-new 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar compact sport utility vehicle.
That’s a mouthful, but needed because all of the company’s SUVs bear the Land Rover name. The storied British company was founded after World War II and is renowned world-wide for building vehicles that can traverse almost any terrain.
Land Rover now is part of Jaguar Land Rover, still British but owned by Tata Motors of India, which has nurtured both brands to new respect in the global automotive industry.
Land Rovers may bend — as in allowing lights or clutches to burn out in the Serengeti — but they almost never break down completely.
In recent times, with computerization and more sophisticated designs, they still project an aura of a vehicle that can go anywhere, any time. But they have morphed into the stuff of a different call of duty, one in which they serve the famous and wealthy on their rounds of country clubs and five-star resorts.
Though the Land Rover people assert that a surprising number of their customers take their expensive machines off-road purely for entertainment, it is quite likely any number of them never negotiate anything other than a paved highway or parking lot.
For 2018, the company’s lineup has been simplified, bereft of any of those confusing alphanumeric designations. There are 11 models and trim levels, all bearing the Land Rover name. On the larger side are the Discovery and Discovery Sport models, two with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines.
There also are eight versions of the Land Rover Range Rover: Evoque, the new Velar, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Smallest is the Evoque, which is the outlier of the bunch with a convertible model as well as hard tops with two or four doors and a choice of all-wheel or front-wheel drive. To satisfy customers who want their Rover just so, the Velar slots between the Evoque and Range Rover.
Though the new Velar — the name was cobbled up from letters in the Land Rover name — is classified as a compact SUV, it tilts toward midsize. Passenger space amounts to 99 cubic feet — about what you find in a midsize sedan. But it also has a whopping 34 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. It competes against the compact Audi Q5 and BMW X3, as well as the midsize Audi Q7 and BMW X5.
The Velar, which shares its underpinnings with the Jaguar F-Pace, embodies a new design language for Range Rover vehicles. Aimed at the on-road driving experience, it is more streamlined with seating for the driver down lower than on other Land Rover vehicles.
Though you can order a four-cylinder Velar with a base price of about $51,000, the tested model was the R-Dynamic HSE P380, which has a single price of $78,095 that includes a full load of optional equipment.
It is powered by a 380-hp, 3.0-liter V6 supercharged engine that delivers 332 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel this all-wheel-drive, 4,675-lb metal sculpture to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Despite its bulk, the Velar has a sprightly feel in traffic. If you turn off the stop-start system, which was the preference here, there’s no hesitation off the line when you punch the gas pedal. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and you can shift for yourself with paddles on the steering wheel.
The Velar exudes luxury. Seats are supportive and comfortable, upholstered in soft leather. Sound deadening materials eliminate most road and wind noise, though some engine sounds intrude through the firewall under hard acceleration.
Infotainment functions are controlled by two 10-inch touch screens that eliminate almost all buttons and switches. However, the screens themselves incorporate 41 (count ’em) virtual buttons. There also are another 16 buttons and switches on the steering wheel, so figure on a lengthy study period to learn the whole megillah.
One cool feature: a shockproof and waterproof “activity key” that substitutes for the ignition remote. Leave the remote in the Velar while you go swimming or kayaking; the activity key will get you back in the driver’s seat.
The Velar’s panoramic sunshade, following a current fad, is made of a cheesy cloth that admits too much sunlight. And the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sun from the sides.
- Model: 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE P380 four-door sport utility vehicle.
- Engine:0-liter V6, supercharged, 380 hp, 332 lb-ft of torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 9 inches.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 99/34 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,675 pounds.
- City/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/24/20 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $78,095.
- Price as tested: $78,095.
Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.
Photos (c) Jaguar Land Rover