CARS.COM — At first glance, this doesn't seem like a fair fight. In one corner, we have the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar, the latest model from the British experts on combining off-road capability with top-notch luxury. And in this corner, fighting out of Gothenburg, Sweden, is the comprehensively redesigned 2018 Volvo XC60 SUV from a company that has only recently embraced making "true" luxury vehicles and is known for safety more than anything else.
However, I had the chance to drive both of these vehicles from Land Rover and Volvo recently, and I was surprised to find that the models are much closer than their pedigrees (and their price tags) would suggest.
Related: 2018 Volvo XC60: Our View
While the Range Rover Velar exterior dimensions are larger (it's almost 5 inches longer), the two cars are actually close on interior size thanks to nearly identical wheelbases: 113.0 inches for the Range Rover Velar to 112.8 for the Volvo XC60. The XC60 from Volvo actually has a smidge more rear legroom for passengers than the Velar, but the Land Rover model offers more cargo capacity thanks to its added length (34.4 cubic feet behind the backseat versus 22.4 cubic feet).
Here's what I tested in each car:
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE Vehicle Specifications
- Powertrain: 380-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, 332 pounds-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
- Fuel economy: 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined
- Key features: Terrain Response 2, quad-zone automatic climate control, air suspension, powered front seats with massaging, active locking rear differential, two 10-inch touchscreens, a 12-inch driver display, perforated Windsor leather seats, a 360-degree camera system
- Price: $87,110
2018 Volvo XC60 T6 Inscription Vehicle Specifications
- Powertrain: 316-hp, turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 295 pounds-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
- Fuel economy: 21/27/23 mpg
- Key features: quad-zone automatic climate control, air suspension, powered front seats with massaging, automatic parking system, Pilot Assist II, perforated Nappa leather seats, 360-degree camera system
- Price: $63,290
The fact that we are comparing these two cars even with that nearly $24,000 MSRP gulf is no slight to the Velar. Sitting in that cabin, this Range Rover trim felt worth its price tag — the interior is almost impeccable, from the minimalist design to the high-resolution displays to the high-quality materials that adorn pretty much every surface. The model also comes with all of the requisite luxury features: massaging front seats, quad-zone climate control, big screens, a giant panoramic moonroof, and supple white leather that I wanted to rip out and make a pair of pants out of.
But the XC60 from Volvo somehow matches the Velar on luxury and features. It, too, came with the same equipment listed above — and even apes the Velar with its own large center console screen that houses all of the climate and vehicle controls. The XC60's screen also proved to be complicated to use while driving, similar to the Velar. In terms of cabin appointments, the unique driftwood accents matched the light leather on the seats and dash, while also giving the interior some old-school grounding rather than metal and gloss all over.
Comfort, Convenience Compared
I even preferred some of the features in the XC60 to their counterparts in the Velar. The massage functions in the XC60's front seats blew away the Velar's; in the Land Rover, it felt as though the lumbar was just inflating, while the XC60 has physical rollers that dig in deeper and make it feel more like an actual massage.
Moreover, the XC60's 360-degree camera system puts the vertically oriented display to good use, filling it with a high-resolution image that clearly showed nearby objects. This is in sharp contrast to the Velar, which only uses a thin portion of the upper display and was hard to see.
What did I enjoy more about the Velar interior? The digital display in front of the driver has a wider range of uses and settings; in the XC60, the information that can be displayed on that screen is pretty limited. But beyond that, nothing really stuck out to me that would give the Velar a significant interior advantage.
That Price Difference, Though
The case for the Velar over the XC60 is tied to its off-road driving ability and on-road manners. It's the better-handling of the two and has much more capability — Land Rover's off-road expertise shines through, especially with the Terrain Management 2 system, which features advanced crawl and traction-control settings. However, the XC60 strikes back hard with better safety features, superior camera systems and that far lower price tag.
Stepping out of the 2018 Range Rover Velar, it felt to me like every bit of a nearly $90,000 luxury SUV on the inside — but, somehow, the 2018 XC60 SUV trim I tested gave me the same feeling.
There was no knockout here, technical or otherwise. So, what car is the winner by decision? Well, with a $24,000 purse at stake — you be the judge of these two impeccable vehicles. Get behind the wheel and experience each car for yourself with a test drive.
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