The original Range Rover midsize SUV was launched in 1970, and the brand gains a fourth member of the family for 2018 – slotted between the Evoque and Sport models — the avant-garde five-passenger Velar.
Land Rover says the revolutionary Velar “changes,” with new levels of luxury, refinement, technology, and all-terrain capability.
Three models are available — Velar, $49,900; R-Dynamic, $60,100; First Edition, $89,300 (available only for 2018), with three Specification Packs with upgraded features for Velar and R-Dynamic — S, SE, and HSE.
Velar’s standout design with powerful, taut surfaces and a stunning silhouette is carried by Jaguar Land Rover’s Lightweight Aluminum Architecture, which enhances performance and agility.
The Velar debuts the all-new Land Rover InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with two high-definition 10-inch touch screens (hidden until lit), SSD Navigation, and InControl Apps (connect a smartphone to the infotainment system).
Velar’s design also features flush deployable door handles, for a sleek side appearance.
Land Rover design cues such as a floating roof and continuous waistline are featured on Velar, while the R-Dynamic model – the one I drove – added Park Assist with 360 Parking Aid (self-parking, overhead view of vehicle and surrounding area), Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist and Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Assist/Reverse Traffic Monitor, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Condition Monitor, and Traffic Sign Recognition with Adaptive Speed Limiter (adjusts speed accordingly when Cruise Control is engaged).
The seats were upgraded from 10-way adjustable with driver memory to 20-way adjustable with driver and passenger memory, massage, heat/ventilation in the front, cushion extension in the front, and heat and recline in the rear ($510 package).
My Velar changed the Light Oyster/Ebony leather seating to a Premium Textile Package ($715) with Oyster Suedecloth inserts, Dapple Gray cloth manual winged headrests (seat package), bolster trim, seatback trim stripe, and armrests (door and console).
The package included a suedecloth steering wheel with a chrome stripe, and dash and upper door trim in Diamond Cut grain Luxtec. Shadow Aluminum Trim on the door panels added $610. Gloss Black trim on the overhead console, center console, center stack, and dash, and an Ebony headliner finished the interior.
Chrome IP End Caps added a touch of class to the dash for $55, while Illuminated Metal Front and Metal Rear Treadplates ($230) and Illuminated Metal Loadspace Scuff Plate ($80) protected vulnerable surfaces from wear and tear with a sense of distinction, featuring Range Rover Velar script.
My R-Dynamic HSE started at $60,100, added a 3.0-liter 380-horsepower supercharged six-cylinder engine for $9,500, and the HSE Pack for $7,500, for a total of $77,100 before options.
The Byron Blue exterior added $610. Exterior color choices include two standard solid colors (Fugi White, Narvik Black), seven metallic for $610 each (Yulong White, Corris Gray, Firenze Red), and three Premium Metallic for $1,523 each (Aruba, Carpathian Gray, Silicon Silver).
An R-Dynamic Black Exterior Package for $635 added bright Narvik Black hood vent blades, hood and tailgate lettering, grill mesh, grille inner surround, air curtain inserts, lower front bumper, rocker panels, tow-eye cover surround, lower rear bumper, and exhaust finisher. Wheels were 20-inch, seven split-spoke with Gloss Black finish, complementing the R-Dynamic package.
Velar’s supercharged V-6 features sports car performance and a unique soundtrack, accelerates to 60 mph from standing in 5.3 seconds, and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with satin chrome shift paddles included standard All-Wheel Drive with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, Adaptive Dynamics and Low Traction Launch. IDD is predictive as well as reactive, helping prevent loss of traction rather than trying to regain it. AD reacts to road conditions and driver’s actions for a composed, balanced ride.
An On/Off Road Package ($580) brought Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control and Configurable Dynamics. Standard Terrain Response included Eco, Dynamic, Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand modes to enable the driver to adjust driving dynamics to match the demands of the terrain.
Electronic air suspension is standard for six-cylinder models, improving on- and off-road refinement and capability. Low Traction Launch works at vehicle speeds under 19 mph to help pull away from a standstill in adverse conditions. LTL operation is best if grass/gravel/snow program is enabled.
Terrain Response 2 monitors conditions and automatically selects the appropriate mode. All Terrain Progress Control, a low speed cruise control feature, operates between 2 and 30 mph and is effective on slippery surfaces including wet grass, snow, ice, and dirt roads. Configurable Dynamics allows drivers to select specific settings to suit their preferred driving styles.
As a legendary off-road vehicle known for its ability to ford streams and standing water, Range Rover Velar has a ground clearance of 9.9 inches and a wading depth of 25.6 inches.
My Velar had a powered gesture tailgate, sliding panoramic roof, automatic premium LED headlights – the most slender ever on a production Land Rover – with signature daytime running lights, automatic leveling and high beam assist, and auto-dimming power/heated door mirrors with approach lights featuring a Range Rover Velar silhouette.
An InControl Remote app allowed monitoring and interaction from a smartphone (or smart watch), including remote start/climate preconditioning, lock/unlock, vehicle location on a map or by beep/flash, and journey tracking.
Rear seatbacks folded 40/20/40, Configurable Ambient Lighting ($255) set the desired mood with 10 colors ranging from Ice White to Moonlight to Racing Red, and a Sports Command Driving Position allowed me to see farther down the road.
Automatic four-zone Climate Control ($870) had vents on the B-pillar, Cabin Air Ionization to cleanse the air, and a vent to cool the lockable glovebox.
The steering wheel had unique hidden-until-lit capacitive switches to operate the more regularly used features such as media and phone in combination with the 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display.
The display projects driving information, entertainment, active safety data, and navigation in a choice of screens: Dual gauges, Single gauge, Full Map, Media, or Driver Assistance view.
Features can also be accessed on the Touch Pro Duo Touch Screens, with different information on each screen. Connected to Connect Pro, Navigation Pro learns regular routes in order to update the driver with information, traffic and ETA.
A Meridian Surround Sound System with 17 speakers including an 825-watt subwoofer provided the fullness and clarity of a live performance using Trifield technology (exclusive to Meridian), which blends the multiple channels for optimum, consistent sound. SiriusXM and HD radio added $615.
Rear Seat Remote Release Levers, a Loadspace Partition Net, and an Activity Key were included in a Convenience Package for $505. The Activity Key features a robust, fully waterproof wristband, allowing the wearer to participate in activities from cycling to skydiving to kayaking without having to carry a key fob. The key can remain in the vehicle, deactivated for security.
Loadspace Storage Rails, $155, had movable tie-down eyes.
My Velar had 61.1 cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats folded flat, 42.4 cubic feet with the rear seat one third folded, 48.9 cubic feet with seat two thirds folded, and 23.7 cubic feet with the seat in full upright position.
A Tow Hitch Receiver with fixed rear recovery eye (towing capacity 5,500 pounds) added $665; an Active Rear Locking Differential, $1,125; a Heated Windshield $385; and Premium Carpet Mats, Ebony with metal Range Rover Velar ingot, Ebony suede-effect PVC and Ebony stitching, $105.
Safety and security were also addressed with a Perimetric Alarm and Immobilizer; Front, Front Side and Full Length Side Window Curtain Air bags; ISOFIX system for child seats and power-operated child locks; and InControl Remote with SOS Emergency Call, Land Rover Optimized Assist Call and Stolen Vehicle Locator. Optimized Assist Call uses satellite positioning and vehicle health information to guide recovery services to your location just by pressing a button.
My Velar was very attractive inside and out, with lots of textures and striking details inside. All passengers had plenty of room and amenities, and were comfortable for a long drive.
But I did find the capacitive audio/HVAC/navigation screens confusing and not intuitive – perhaps a little more time to study them was needed.
Velar R-Dynamic HSE is EPA rated for 18 mpg city/24 highway/20 combined. I averaged 22.4 mpg during my week of mostly highway driving.
With a total of $8,095 in options, and $995 destination charges added to the $77,100 base price, my Velar delivered for $86,190.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.