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2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar: New Car Review

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar may have an impossibly long name, but everything else about it is easy to love. As the latest Land Rover SUV to wear the company’s new design language, the Velar takes clear aim at the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche Macan. In doing so, the Velar offers a slightly larger and more functional package that’s more elegant than the conservatively styled Audi and more off-road-capable than the Porsche or Mercedes-Benz.

The Velar is loaded with Land Rover’s latest innovations, including a configurable interactive driver display and the Touch Pro Duo, featuring twin touchscreens for navigation, audio, ventilation and infotainment. Befitting its eye-catching exterior, the Velar’s interior is stunning, especially when outfitted in white leather. Off-road, the Velar is nearly as capable as the larger Range Rover Sport, but on the highway the Velar delivers a superior ride and far better handling. Of course, Land Rover still lags behind the class leaders in the areas of reliability and resale, but those numbers are quickly coming up, making it a bit easier to write that $50,000-plus check.

What’s New for 2018?

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar is new for 2018. It features progressive styling, a choice of gasoline or diesel engines and the latest in high-tech and off-road-capable hardware.

What We Like

Stunning good looks; large and luxurious interior; advanced control displays; capable off-roading ability; numerous powertrain options

What We Don’t

Thick pillars hamper visibility; air suspension’s stiff ride; complex controls; price

How Much?

$50,895-$90,295

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Range Rover Velar offers a choice of three engines. Standard is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine producing 247 horsepower. Teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this engine achieves 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Next up is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 good for 380 hp. Also mated to an 8-speed transmission, this engine achieves 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. Last up is a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine that offers 180 hp and an impressive 317 lb-ft of torque, yet still pulls in an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

All Velars feature standard all-wheel drive and optional All Terrain Progress Control.

Standard Features & Options

Land Rover offers the Velar in six trims: base, S, SE, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE and First Edition. The base model is only offered with the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, while the SE and First Edition come only with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6. All others can be equipped with any of the three engines mentioned in the fuel economy section.

The Velar ($50,895) features a coil-spring suspension, the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, all-wheel drive, 18-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, Luxtec and suede seats, a 250-watt sound system with 8 speakers, keyless entry, a sliding panoramic glass sunroof, rear-parking aid, flush deployable door handles and Touch Pro Duo with voice control. Standard driver assists include lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency braking.

The Velar S ($55,695) adds 19-in wheels, a power gesture tailgate, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, perforated leather seating, 10-way power front seats with driver memory, rear-seat power recline, an 11-speaker/380-watt Meridian sound system, a rearview camera and navigation.

The Velar SE ($68,395) adds the 3.0-liter V6 engine, 20-in wheels, the Park package (featuring a 360-degree parking aid and reverse traffic detection), the Drive package (including a driver-condition monitor and blind spot monitoring with traffic-sign recognition), an 18-speaker/825-watt Meridian sound system, upgraded Navigation Pro and an interactive driver display.

The Velar R-Dynamic SE ($61,095) brings 20-in satin dark alloy wheels, a power-adjustable steering column, 20-way power seats with driver/passenger memory massage, heated and cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control with intelligent emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, self-parking assist, fog lamps and R-Dynamic styling treatment.

The Velar R-Dynamic HSE ($68,595) includes 21-in alloy wheels and additional leather upgrades.

The Velar First Edition ($90,295) comes fully loaded with every available option, including a heated steering wheel, a head-up display and a 22-speaker/1,300-watt Meridian sound system.

Options are bundled mostly into packages and consist of most of the standard features found on the higher-end trims. Some of the more notable packages include the Drive Pro package (blind spot monitoring with closing-vehicle detection, intelligent emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and a driver-condition monitor); the Off Road package (All Terrain Progress control, configurable Dynamic Mode Driver Chassis Control and Terrain Response 2); and the Park Pro package (parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a 360-degree parking aid and reverse traffic detection).

Safety

To date, neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2018 Range Rover Velar.

Behind the Wheel

The impression derived from the 2018 Range Rover Velar very much depends upon its engine and trim level. Behind the wheel of the SE with the 2.0-liter turbo, we found an exceptionally nice driving experience. The engine has plenty of power for pulling and passing, yet its highway fuel economy remained in the mid-20s our entire trip. When the road turned from straight to serpentine, the Velar’s standard coil-spring suspension handled the curves with precision and confidence. The steering delivered good feedback, and the car never felt too large or heavy to maneuver in tight spots. The diesel model also won high praise, with a responsive throttle bolstered by the extra rush of power from the massive 317 lb-ft of torque.

Moving up to the R-Dynamic with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 should have been like turning the volume to 11, but instead what we found was a vehicle that felt heavy and unsure of itself in the turns. Blame the air suspension here. It’s standard on any model with the V6 engine, and we frankly didn’t like it as much as our base model’s traditional coil-spring setup. The ride felt stiffer, the rear end swayed too much in the tight curves, and although the V6 offers 380 horsepower, it’s only about a second faster to 60 mph than the 2.0-liter turbo.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Audi Q5 — The Q5 has been around longer than the Velar and therefore has an established reliability and resale history. The Velar offers more engine choices and is superior off-road, although the Q5 costs less and its 2.0-liter turbo gets better fuel economy.

2018 Porsche Macan — If you’re looking for high-performance SUV, the Macan has it over the Velar by a mile. You’ll pay a substantial price over the Velar, especially if you start loading up on options, but hey, it’s a Porsche.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee — The Jeep Grand Cherokee may not have a lofty British name, but it’s a remarkably well-equipped SUV. In Summit or Overland trim, the Grand Cherokee comes pretty close to the Velar’s luxury levels, and it’s easily as capable off-road.

Used Land Rover Range Rover Sport A used 2012-2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport offers more power and better off-road performance, plus its traditional boxy styling still appeals to the Land Rover faithful.

Autotrader’s Advice

For our money, we’d go with either the SE or the R-Dynamic SE with the 2.0-liter turbo. We like the power, the price and, best of all, the coil-spring suspension. Load up with either as many or as few option packages as you like, and you’ll have a very comfortable and capable luxury SUV.

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