Land Rover is known for its opulent interiors and go-anywhere capability. However, that formula might focus more on on-road performance with the all-new 2018 Range Rover Velar. It lacks some of the utility you’ll find in competing SUVs, but nimble handling and a plush, high-tech cabin make the Velar a joy on the open road.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar is the newest member of the Land Rover lineup. This luxury midsize SUV offers seating for five and standard all-wheel drive. Three engine choices are offered, and each is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Land Rover offers the Range Rover Velar in six trim levels: base, S, SE, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE and First Edition.
The flagship Range Rover has always featured a design that’s rugged, yet elegant and refined. You can see many of these traits in the 2018 Range Rover Velar. Sinewy exterior styling emphasizes that the Velar might look more at home on the street than traversing rugged off-road trails.
Slim, sweptback headlights flank a broad grille on the front fascia. From the sides, a rakish roofline and a rising beltline give this SUV a particularly sporty appearance. The Range Rover Velar also borrows a design cue from the Jaguar F-Type: Its door handles are flush with the door panels. Hit the key fob (or the keyless access button on the handle itself) and each handle deploys to allow access to the vehicle.
Every Range Rover Velar comes with features such as heated side-view mirrors, a panoramic moonroof and 18-inch wheels. Power-folding side-view mirrors, fog lights and a hands-free power liftgate are among the 2018 Velar’s available features. Land Rover also offers a number of wheel options, with sizes that range from 19 to 22 inches.
The Land Rover marque is synonymous with impeccable cabin quality, and that trend continues with the 2018 Range Rover Velar interior. It’s swathed in premium materials, with attractive, soft-touch surfaces covering nearly every touch point. The center stack features a unique dual-screen layout that puts technology at the forefront.
The base Range Rover Velar comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, wool-blend upholstery and 10-way power-adjustable front seats. Our test model included a number of comfort-enhancing options. These included a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering column and heated and ventilated front seats with a massage function.
The Range Rover Velar is a little sleeker and lower to the ground than stablemates such as the 2018 Range Rover Sport. However, we enjoyed the driver-focused interior and good outward visibility. The 20-way power-adjustable front seats that came in our test SUV also were a welcome upgrade. Additionally, the first row is roomy enough to keep taller drivers comfortable. The second row, while comfortable enough for most passengers, lacks the legroom we’ve come to expect in a luxury midsize SUV.
That said, the 2018 Velar offers decent utility. The cargo area features a large, square shape that easily accommodates larger items. There’s 34.4 cubic feet of space available behind the second row, and lowering those 40/20/40-split folding seats increases capacity to 70.1 cubic feet.
Few midsize SUVs feel as poised and comfortable as the 2018 Range Rover Velar. That’s especially true when it’s equipped with the available supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that came in our test SUV. That engine offers 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, and it makes the Range Rover Velar particularly responsive off the line and on the highway. Our Range Rover Velar also featured an available air suspension for exceptional handling and ride comfort.
We enjoyed the performance upgrades on our test SUV. However, the base Range Rover Velar has enough power to provide an enjoyable driving experience. That model comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The base engine helps the Range Rover Velar deliver an EPA-estimated 21/27 mpg city/highway.
An available turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides the best fuel economy in the lineup. It provides 180 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, as well as an EPA-estimated 26/30 mpg city/highway.
Land Rover’s efforts to outfit the Range Rover Velar with the latest technologies are apparent as soon as you sit behind the wheel. The instrument cluster features a highly configurable digital display, while the center stack is dominated by two 10-inch touch screens that serve as the nerve center for all vehicle functions. The upper screen provides access to navigation, media and phone settings. Meanwhile, the lower screen serves up climate adjustments and controls for Land Rover’s Terrain Response system.
The result is an attractive, high-tech look, but the system does have a bit of a learning curve. We’d like to see on-screen menus that are a little more straightforward, particularly for the upper screen that provides access to music and navigation functions. Another notable omission is the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which you’ll find in competitors such as the 2018 Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
On the plus side, Land Rover provides an impressive range of tech features with the Range Rover Velar. An eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and a rearview camera are standard on every model. The Velar’s available options include the choice of two upgraded Meridian audio systems, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot and a rear-seat entertainment system. Optional driver-assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a head-up display.
The Land Rover Range Rover Velar starts at $49,900, not including a $995 destination charge. That’s a significantly lower starting price than what you’ll find with the larger and more luxurious Range Rover Sport. However, the Range Rover Velar’s MSRP can increase quickly with options. Our test Velar was an R-Dynamic HSE model with the top engine option, and it carried a suggested price of $77,100. That’s about $10,000 more than the base Range Rover Sport.
While we appreciate the performance that our test SUV’s supercharged V6 provides, a better value can be had if you’re willing to sacrifice some power and stick with the base engine. Our pick would likely be an R-Dynamic SE model with the base turbo-four. That vehicle carries a suggested price of $60,100 and builds on the Velar’s list of standard feature content with 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a Meridian audio system and a full suite of driver-assistance features.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar undoubtedly fills a void that existed within the Land Rover lineup. It offers more utility and power than the smaller Range Rover Evoque for a modest price increase, but that doesn’t mean it’s without compromise. Passenger space is somewhat limited by midsize SUV standards, particularly in the second row. And while the interior offers some impressive tech, it’s still missing the smartphone mirroring technologies that have become increasingly common on much less expensive vehicles. As a result, the Range Rover Velar might not be our first choice if you’re looking for a new family SUV.
If those concerns aren’t deal-breakers, you’ll find a lot to like about Land Rover’s newest SUV. The Velar has a long list of standard features and great driving dynamics working in its favor. It’s also one of the few SUVs in the class that continues to offer a diesel engine option. An eye-catching exterior design and an elegant, high-quality interior are also highlights. Only a select few SUVs can match the 2018 Range Rover Velar’s sense of style.