Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 221
Fuel used: 12.3 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 18.0 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/24/20 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $77,100 (not including $995 destination charge)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Options on test vehicle: On/Off Road Package ($580), Convenience Package ($505), Climate Package ($870), R-Dynamic Black Exterior Package ($635), special paint ($610), Shadow Aluminum Trim Finisher (no charge), 20-inch Split-Spoke Gloss Black Wheels (n/c), 20-way heated/cooled/massaging front seats with driver/passenger memory and heated rear seats ($510), Perforated Windsor Leather seats (n/c), tow hitch receiver ($665), Active Locking Rear Differential ($1125), carg0-area storage rails ($155), heated steering wheel ($255), heated windshield ($385), satellite radio and HD radio ($615), Full Extended Leather upholstery ($1380), ebony black headliner (n/c), illuminated front and rear treadplates ($230), illuminated metal cargo-area scuff plate ($80), chrome instrument-panel end caps ($55), configurable ambient interior lighting ($255), premium carpet mats ($105)
Price as tested: $87,110
The great: Breathtaking styling, starship-worthy control layout, sumptuously finished cabin
The good: Extensive list of personalization options, robust acceleration
The not so good: Steep pricing, less practical than many class rivals, so-so ride quality
Just how serious is the auto industry’s romance with the compact sport-utility vehicle? Here’s one proof: Land Rover now has three of them. There certainly are no commitment issues there.
How does Land Rover love thee, compact SUVs? Let us count the ways. There is the Discovery Sport, the Range Rover Evoque, and now—for 2018—the Range Rover Velar, the last of which Consumer Guide® sampled in well-decked-out R-Dynamic HSE trim, and with the available supercharged V6 engine to boot.
The Velar strains at the upper limits of compactdom. At 189 inches long, it is eight inches longer than the Discovery Sport and 17 more than the Evoque. Its 113-inch wheelbase bests the runner-up Discovery by 5.1 inches, and its front and rear wheel tracks are clearly wider than those shared by the Evoque and Discovery. With mirrors extended, the Discovery Sport is just 0.9 of an inch wider than the Velar, and its rear cargo room with the second-row seats raised is 0.2 cubic feet greater than the newest vehicle—which is more than it seems, considering the Velar’s substantially longer footprint. However, with rear seats down, the Velar bests the Discovery Sport by more than seven cubic feet of storage, which implies greater overall cabin roominess.
Land Rover calls the Velar “the avant-garde Range Rover.” Judging books by covers, you might have thought that was the Evoque’s role, with its chopped-top styling and availability of a convertible. However, the Velar also sports an only slightly less-tapered roof, slick details like flush exterior door handles that extend from the body when the doors are unlocked, and an extremely clean interior design that complements a thorough redesign of Range Rover control surfaces.
The new Touch Pro Duo system employs two 10-inch touchscreens, one in the center of the dash and another just below it in the forward portion of the console that rises up to the dash. Until activated, they essentially are glossy blank slates—indeed, the lower screen disappears into the surrounding black console. Exposed controls, confined to the console, are few: a couple of bright-rimmed adjustment dials, a small on/off button, and the pop-up dial that serves as the transmission selector.
However, once activated, the touchscreens colorfully display the Velar’s various comfort and convenience features that are, for the most part, managed by tapping virtual buttons. The upper screen bears a low-lying strip of icons for various functions, and shows things like audio selections, navigation, and the rearview camera display. The lower screen is where you’ll find climate controls and drive-mode and terrain-management settings.
The arrangement is esthetically pleasing but not as simple to decipher at a glance as the infotainment system in older Land Rover (and Jaguar) vehicle lines. Depending on which functions you’ve called up, the screens can be awash in touch points, some fairly small. Land Rover owners who are used to the cluster of Terrain Response push buttons close at hand on the console will have to acclimate to an extensive choice of contact points further away on the lower screen.
The Velar R-Dynamic HSE comes quite well equipped. Standard gear counts things like 21-inch 10-spoke dark-grey alloy wheels; LED headlights; gesture-activated power tailgate; power-folding heated external mirrors with approach lights; panoramic sunroof; power-adjustable steering column; 20-way front seats with driver and passenger memory massage; heated and cooled front seats; full leather seats and leather door-top, center-dashboard, and airbag-cover applications; 17-speaker Meridian audio system; driver-information display in the instrument cluster; “Drive Pro” package of adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist and emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, driver-condition monitor, and blind-spot assist; “Park Pro” package; and fog lamps. R-Dynamic exteriors sport burnished-copper accents, but a black-trim option package is available—and was included on CG’s test vehicle.
When equipped with the supercharged V6, the Velar R-Dynamic HSE starts at $77,100, which is $9500 more than it costs with the basic 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. (A 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine is also offered.) However, the test truck was jammed with option groups and individual add-ons that inflated the sticker price to $87,110 with delivery.
The 3.0-liter V6 is rated at 380 horsepower, and develops a peak of 332 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. If not the epitome of smoothness, this corporate V6 still delivers a high level of power. Land Rover claims 5.3-second 0-60-mph capability for Velars with this engine, which is paired with a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for more hands-on drivers. EPA fuel-economy estimates for the test vehicle are 18 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway, and 20 combined. However, this reviewer mustered just 16.3 mpg from a stint of 119.7 miles made up of 70 percent city-style driving.
“Adaptive Dynamics” variable damping and electronic air suspension (the latter standard on V6-equipped Velars) generate a curious ride mix, at least when in basic “Comfort” mode. Some road imperfections can register with sharp hits but then the ride can feel a little floaty when turning corners or making lane changes. Note that after this tester had driven the Velar for a day, an “Adaptive Dynamics Fault” alert popped up—with an accompanying reduction of ride compliance—but then cleared after the truck sat idle for a couple of days. The owner’s manual suggested this might happen, which makes you wonder exactly when you should start worrying that something truly is wrong with your vehicle.
Front passengers will find extremely comfortable seats and great room. Driver vision is fairly good but with blockage by wide rear roof pillars. Second-row occupants have pretty good legroom and easy entry and exit. Materials and assembly are excellent throughout, and there’s a high level of cabin quiet. For storage, there is a big glove box with optional cooling. The console box has a 2-piece rear-hinged lid that can be opened from the right or left sides. Space within is limited, all the more so considering that’s where the device inputs are located. There are pockets in all four doors, pouches on back of the front seats, and cup holders in the console and the pull-down rear armrest.
Great rear cargo space gets even better when the 40/20/40 rear seats fold almost flat. The cargo bay can be outfitted with optional floor rails with movable tie-downs for securing loads.
When measured against practical, left-brain considerations such as value for the dollar, passenger/cargo room and versatility, and fuel economy, a Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are many premium-brand compact SUVs that trump the Velar in these areas, and they do it for much less than $80K. However, the Velar is arguably the sexiest-looking SUV on the market, inside and out–it delivers unparalleled exotic-car panache in addition to the Land Rover brand’s characteristic on-road/off-road handling prowess and impeccably finished cabins. If you’re looking for an SUV that’s as at home cruising down Rodeo Drive as it is tackling a rocky trail or a curvy mountain road–and cost-per-cubic-foot is of little concern to you–then the Range Rover Velar should align with your desires nicely.