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2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Test Drive Review

Land Rover recently invited us to the sunny and mountainous paradise of Palm Springs, California to experience the latest addition to its Range Rover family, the 2018 Range Rover Velar.

Taking its name from the code name applied to Range Rover prototype vehicles in the late 1960s, the Velar is a completely modern mid-size luxury SUV, from its sleek concept-like bodywork to its evolutionary interior technology.

The Velar fills in a white space in Land Rover’s portfolio, slotting in between the smaller Range Rover Evoque and the larger Range Rover Sport (one of which we recently tested for a week). It’s available in six trim levels: base, S, SE, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE, and, for the 2018 model year only, First Edition. Power comes from a turbocharged gas four-cylinder engine, a turbodiesel I4, or a supercharged gas V6.

During the two-day North American media launch of the Velar, the automaker’s marketing, public relations, and engineering representatives made sure to mention how important the Velar’s design is to its appeal. They have nothing to worry about there because the Velar is an attractive and updated take on Range Rover styling.

However, because the Velar wears those prestigious 10 letters across the front of its hood, its off-road abilities are also of vital importance. The company can rest assured its years of development and testing paid off. We have the pleasant memories and dusty boots to prove it.

2018 Range Rover Velar Exterior

According to the Land Rover press kit, the Velar “is an instantly recognisable descendant of the original luxury SUV – a globally lauded, landmark industrial design. Yet Velar’s form, stance and proportions leave an overwhelming impression of the unfamiliar, of the new.” After checking the Velar out from every angle, we have to agree. Its grille, swept-back headlights, continuous waistline, “floating” roof, and prominent upward angle to its rear end are all full-size Range Rover visual signatures. However, the Velar’s length, available copper accents, bullet-smooth sides (made possible by retractable door handles), and U-shape tail lights joined by a black bar labeled “R A N G E R O V E R” keep the Velar from looking as if it’s just a 3/5-scale version of the flagship Range Rover. The Velar certainly has a family resemblance, but it’s already managed to establish its own visual identity.

2018 Range Rover Velar Interior

That blend of familiar and fresh carries over into the Velar’s cabin. If you’ve seen the inside of a modern Range Rover, the Velar’s interior shapes and proportions will look familiar. Certain bits of switchgear and hardware may not, though.

Like the 2018 Range Rover, the Velar gets a slick inner makeover. The steering wheel controls for various functions such as audio volume and cruise control are now glossy and futuristic capacitive buttons. Perhaps the most noticeable area of the Velar’s interior is the Touch Pro Duo system. In the dashboard, there’s the touchscreen you’d expect to see in a 2018 vehicle. It controls functions such as the navigation system, Bluetooth-connected phone, and parking aids. The touchscreen below can be used to change things that include the heating/cooling/massage levels of particular seats, HVAC airflow and temperature, and Terrain Response/Terrain Response 2 modes (more on those in the Performance section below). The overall presentation is sleek and elegant, as well as functional.

We spent roughly six hours driving and riding shotgun in three variants of the Velar (R-Dynamic SE P250, R-Dynamic HSE D180, and R-Dynamic HSE P380) from Palm Springs through the seemingly endless natural beauty of the San Bernadino National Forest, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, and Mount San Jacinto State Park. The Velar lived up to its Range Rover badging by riding smoothly and slipping through the desert air in near silence. In the front seat, the available multi-mode massaging seats allowed us to travel the 220+ miles in relaxing comfort. Riding in the back seat, we had a surprisingly ample amount of legroom. No matter where we went in the Velar or where we sat in it, we smiled – something we remember doing in every other Range Rover we’ve tested.

2018 Range Rover Velar Performance

Land Rover offers the Range Rover Velar with three engines in the United States. The turbodiesel 2.0-liter I4 generates 180 horsepower and 317 lbft of torque. The gas 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder packs 247 horsepower and 269 lbft. At the top of the range, the supercharged gas 3.0-liter V6 cranks out a stout and satisfying 380 horsepower and 332 lbft of shove. Every engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic. The V6 allows the Velar to tow a maximum of 5,512 pounds. Otherwise, the Velar can pull 5,291 pounds. In terms of fuel economy, the diesel is the best buy. It’s good for 26 city, 30 highway, and 28 combined mpg.**

Both versions of Terrain Response adjust the engine, transmission, center differential, and chassis systems to maximize on-road performance, focus on fuel economy, behave normally, or handle grass/gravel/snow, mud ruts, or sand. According to Land Rover, Terrain Response 2 “features an automatic setting which monitors the current driving conditions and systematically selects the most suitable terrain setting.”

The Velar is available with two suspensions: a traditional coil setup and an air suspension. The coil setup provides a marginal advantage in terms of approach (24.5 degrees), breakover (20.3 degrees), and regular and maximum departure angles (26.5 and 27 degrees, respectively), but the air suspension offers two more inches of wading depth (25.6), two more inches of wheel articulation (15), and 1.5 more inches of ground clearance (9.9).

We drove a V6-powered Velar R-Dynamic HSE equipped with the optional locking rear differential over the dusty, rocky, winding paths of Southern California. Given the countless number of small elevation changes we encountered, we decided to engage the Velar’s All-Terrain Progress Control (which our trail guide nicknamed “off-road cruise control”) so it could manage the throttle and brake for us as we steered the Velar over the rough and gritty desert landscape. The stock rubber never struggled for adhesion and no one in our 10-vehicle convoy had to pull over because of a punctured tire. Grip was as abundant as our mental and physical comfort. When we raised the suspension to its maximum off-road height and pointed the Velar toward larger rocks, our rig ambled up and over them without scraping or clawing for traction.

Our guide told us we subjected to the Velar to conditions most Velar owners will never put their vehicles through. However, the few that choose to take their Velars off road will have the peace of mind knowing that they’re not out of place on unpaved roads.

2018 Range Rover Velar Safety

Standard safety equipment on the Velar includes six driver and passenger airbags, Electronic Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Emergency Brake Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and a rear parking aid are on that list, too. Through the addition of various packages, Velar buyers can outfit their vehicles with features such as a 360-degree parking aid, Reverse Traffic Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Driver Condition Monitor.

2018 Range Rover Velar Overall

The MSRPs of the three models we drove during the Velar’s North American media launch event ranged from $74,895 to $87,110. The base price of the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar is $49,900.* To experience the latest stylish and capable addition to the Range Rover family for yourself, go to an AutoNation-affiliated Land Rover dealership.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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