2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive review: sumptuous SUV Page 2

New ways for an old idea

The Velar rumbles to life in a restrained, unhurried way.

Despite the supercharged V-6’s 380 horsepower, which can carry 4,400 pounds of the SUV’s mass up to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, it’s not particularly deft. Fire-breathing V-8s are begging to be loosed at every stoplight in bigger Range Rovers but the Velar prefers to glide right through them.

The base gas turbo-4 is more relaxed, but no more refined, and takes a second longer to do the same deed. The turbodiesel is the fuel-economy champ, at up to 30 mpg highway, but its proposition is fading in the future of electrification.

The V-6 will be the most popular pick, according to Range Rover, and account for half of the Velars sold in the U.S. to start. Only one in 10 Velars will be equipped with a diesel engine up front, and the company has already announced that it would switch to electrified powertrains in 2020. The writing, it’s on the wall, so to speak.

MUST SEE: 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVR spy shots

Regardless of engine, all versions of the Velar get an 8-speed automatic mercifully gifted with paddle-shifters. Tipping the gear selector into Sport mode fortunately holds gears longer, but clicking down a few gears will become habitual for lead-footed drivers with light-weighted wallets forced to opt for the turbo-4.

That’s all familiar from the Jaguar F-Pace. The way that the Velar delights isn’t.

Opting for top trims of the Velar mean a 12.3-inch driver information display that rivals Audi’s similar unit. Their name may be trademarked, but the idea surely isn’t.

The Velar boasts an updated steering wheel control system that borrows the tactile feel from older models via buttons and knobs, but adds backlit buttons and contextual touchwheels for refined controls.

There’s much to do about the touchscreen controls in the Velar that will appear in next year’s Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models.

Across the horizontally oriented dash, a single span of leather or textured vinyl is broken only via elegant stitching or small patterns that would be welcome in a high-class cocktail bar. You know, the $20-a-drink places in town.

In the back, the Velar succumbs to the same foibles that the F-Pace and Discovery Sport fall victim too. Rear-seat leg room is adequate, but not ample—6-footers behind other 6-footers is possible, but not entirely comfortable. The Velar boasts an ample 34.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, which opens up to 70.1 cubes with the seats folded down.

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

Enlarge Photo
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

Enlarge Photo
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar first drive

Enlarge Photo

But the rear seats can do a better trick when up—they can recline several inches for better comfort on long hauls.

That’s the Velar’s wheelhouse anyway. Despite wearing a badge that used to adorn fishbowls riding on top of skateboards, the newest Range Rover goes the other way. Its streamlined shape doesn’t afford the same outward vision of other Range Rovers, but its shape speaks more to what Range Rover has meant for more buyers.

At more than $50,000 to start—and easily configurable to $90,000 in First Edition versions with premium stereo and seating options—the Range Rover Velar soon will be among the top-sellers for the brand, perhaps the best-seller overall.

It’s not hard to see why, it’s just hard to see why this didn’t happen five years ago.

Land Rover provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.

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