Competes with: Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X4, Lexus NX 200t, Volvo XC60
Looks like: An Evoque smoothed out on the R&D tip, with a Sport feel … appeal … to it
Drivetrain: A 180-horsepower, diesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 247-hp, gas 2.0-liter four-cylinder; and a 380-hp supercharged gas V-6; all mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission
Hits dealers: Later this year
When the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar bows at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, it will grow the Range Rover family while furthering the concept of “reductionism.” Indeed, the fourth addition to the lineup that slots between the Evoque and the Sport very much favors the former, but with a wider appearance and smoother, curvier lines.
The mid-size luxury SUV seats five and starts at $50,895. That starting price is compared to the 2017 Evoque’s $42,795 and the 2017 Sport’s $66,645; all prices include a $995 destination charge. When it hits dealerships later this year, the Velar will be offered in four trim levels — base, S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE — and three powertrain options, including four- and six-cylinder gas models, and a diesel four.
The Velar further refines the Evoque’s less-boxy shape compared with the Sport. In front, the new SUV has a larger honeycomb grille and narrower full-LED headlights (Land Rover says they’re the narrowest yet) than its smaller sibling, along with a wider-looking stance and swoopier styling across the profile. The emphasis on simplicity is evident, as smoothed-out curves are made even smoother by deployable door handles that sit flush with the body when not in use.
But reductionism doesn’t mean a dearth of detail. Luxury flourishes like available Burnished Copper detailing on the front bumper blades and fender vents, as well as optional 22-inch wheels, remind buyers and admirers alike where that 50 to 90 grand went; available Black Exterior and Premium Exterior Packs provide further distinction. Meanwhile, a lightweight aluminum-heavy body structure is said to enhance performance, agility and efficiency compared with steel. The whole package evokes elevated subtlety and sophistication — though we’re not necessarily sold on that floating roof.
Intended as a “calming sanctuary” for occupants — are we talking about the same people inclined to test the Velar’s 9.88-inch ground clearance and 25.59-inch wading depth? — the cabin can be appointed with sustainable woolen-textile seating surfaces in Dapple Grey (rather than leather) and complemented with suedelike cloth inserts finished in Ebony or Light Oyster. The Velar’s cargo space measures 34.4 cubic feet compared with the Sport’s 27.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up.
The debut of the Velar will also mark the debut of the new Land Rover InControl multimedia system, Touch Pro Duo, which uses a pair of 10-inch high-definition touchscreens.
Under the Hood
The base powertrain is a 247-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s also in the S model starting at $55,695; the R-Dynamic SE starting at $61,095; and the R-Dynamic HSE at $68,595. The 180-hp, 2.0-liter diesel is available in the S, SE and HSE for $57,195, $62,595 and $70,095, respectively. The top-tier engine — a 380-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, which thrusts the Velar from zero-to-60 mph in a reported 5.3 seconds on its way to 155 mph — is also available on the three elevated trims for $65,195 with the S, $70,595 with the SE and $78,095 with the HSE, as well as for $90,295 for the 500-unit limited First Edition version, which elevates the luxuriousness of the HSE.
All versions are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels. Available off-road technologies — a key offering on any Range Rover — include Terrain Response 2, All Terrain Progress Control, Low Traction Launch, Hill Descent Control and Gradient Release Control. Six-cylinder models boast a towing capacity of 5,500 pounds, while the Advanced Tow Assist function allows the driver to simply aim their trailer where they want to park it using a rotary controller, and the vehicle steers it into place.
Advanced safety features include auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear traffic alert and driver condition monitoring. That’s in addition to adaptive cruise control with traffic assist and an adaptive speed limiter.