2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE Review

The most beautiful SUV on the planet


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Stunning exterior and interior design, stellar off-road capability, spacious cabin, rich materials, cutting-edge infotainment
Negatives: Infotainment system might be too complex, firm ride isn't for everyone, poor gas mileage, hefty weight hampers performance.
Bottom Line: The Velar is a rolling showcase of beauty, style, and technology. For those who want to be seen, this is the Land Rover for you. Forget the fact that it can take on off-road duties more than most SUVs because you'll be too busy ogling everything inside and out. It's the most attractive SUV on the market today but surely not the most reliable.
The Velar is a brand new model in the Land Rover lineup. The new vehicle shares its underpinnings and drivetrain choices with the handsome Jaguar F-Pace, but it's even more stunning than its sister crossover. The Velar's focus is on design, both inside and out, but it's also no shrinking violet when it comes to off-road capability, should owners ever decide to take it off pavement. We drove it for a week to see how good it really is. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.6

 

The Velar will likely stay only on the road, despite the fact that it has off-road prowess. It has good road manners and easily backs up its slick looks with a comfortable ride that's not too cushy.

Ride Quality: The ride was on the firm side, but the Velar handles bumps and gaps well. Our optional air suspension handled differing road conditions very well. The car feels very compoased.

Acceleration: Our tester was outfitted with the bigger engine, a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 380 horses. The sprint to 60 mph takes 5.3 seconds. It'd be faster if the Velar wasn't so heavy. The transmission shifts well, and the throttle response is good with no lag.

Braking: The braking distances are about on par with the Jaguar F-Pace, around 175 feet from 70 mph to 0. The pedal is progressive with good firmness and no dead spots.

Steering: The steering is pretty good, eschewing the vagueness of most crossovers. It's not as sharp as the F-Pace or the Stelvio, but it's still better than we expected.

Handling: This is a hefty vehicle, and there's some mild body roll, but overall it manages turns well thanks to the torque vectoring and taut suspension. Just don't drive it into that turn too hard.

Technology

8.9

 

The showcased dual infotainment screens in the Velar are attention getters, and the the entire cabin is rife with the latest technology. Rather than even remotely necessary, most of it seems like it's for show rather than utility.

Infotainment System: InControl Touch Pro Duo is a fancy name for a fancy system. Not only are the vivid 10-inch screens big, but they're stunning to view. The system is beautiful but can be laggy. Not much else in the industry looks this good, though.

Controls: The two screens mean that there are very few physical controls, and this makes the system less than great to use while driving. The upper screen manages audio, nav, and settings, while the lower screen toggles between climate controls and driving-modes, and that's a lot to handle while behind the wheel. The two multi-function rotary knobs on the lower half are technically physical controls, but their function changes from temp to fan speed and seat heat/ventilation depending on the screen you choose. Whew.

Styling

9.7

 

Land Rover nailed this one. While their other vehicles are more upright and traditional (except the Evoque, that is), the Velar always looks like it's in motion. It's just as beautiful to behold inside as it is from the exterior. The thing is breathaking, really.

Front: Slender headlights, dark mesh upper and lower grilles, and the total absence of chrome make the Velar look sexy and sinister at the same time. We like its simple approach in the front fascia. Nothing seems overdone.

Rear: The back end isn't bad, but it's our least favorite angle because it lacks the visual drama of the other parts of the car. The long swath of metal above the taillights seems boring, and the large expanse of lower black plastic is too thick.

Profile: The best view of the Velar thanks to its sloping roof, recessed door handles, big black wheels, and the character line that unifies the elements.

Cabin: While other Land Rovers look great, the Velar even upstages its more expensive Range Rover big brother. The whitish leather is handsome, and the angled center console and display screens draw the eye. All of the materials look and feel upscale.

Comfort

8.8

 

There's plenty of space in the Velar, and the feel of the interior backs up the look. It's really a wonderful place to sit, and the fact that the designers/engineers did it up like this is testament that you can do beauty and comfort at the same time.

Front Seats: Comfy and supportive, the seats are soft but not mushy. They feel like they'd hold up well on longer trips.

Rear Seats: The rear seats are very comfortable, and there's a good amount of space for adults. It's a tad smaller in the backseat than the Lexus RX with about an inch less legroom and headroom.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Other than the burble of the powerful engine, the inside is quiet and solidly built. We heard no squeaks or rattles during testing.

Visibility: Visibility is suprisingly good for such a rakish vehicle. The seating position is good, and the view out the back is only somewhat obsucred by the thick and angled D-pillar. The cameras come in handy here.

Climate: Other than complex controls, the system works pretty well. We would've like stronger AC out the dash vents, though.

Safety

6.5

 

The Velar is an expensive niche vehicle, hence the fact that it hasn't been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. Our top trim Velar did have good safety tech, at least.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested

Standard Tech: Our model came packed with a serious set of safety tech including a 360 parking aid, Rear View Camera, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Emergency Braking, Driver Condition Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limited, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Intelligent Emergency Braking.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.3

 

The Velar is more than just a show pony. There's a solid level of utility inside. Though it's not as capacious as the Range Rover, it does better than most of the competition in the premium mid-size SUV segment.

Storage Space: The lower display screen takes up a lot of room where there might've been space for a cubby, but at least the center armrest and cupholder provide space for gear.

Cargo Room: There's a solid amount of space in the back, providing 19.71 cubic feet behind the second row and 70.1 with the seats folded flat. The load floor is nice and flat, and the optional tie down rails are helpful. It's bigger than the Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q5 in back.

Fuel Economy

6

 

The only thing the Velar has going for it to help with fuel economy is its aerodynamic body. The Velar is heavy, and the V6 engine is on the thirsty side. We weren't able to hit the EPA figures, but maybe we weren't trying hard enough.

Observed: 16.8 mpg

Distance Driven: 165 miles

Driving Factors: As usual, we mixed local roads and highways almost equally, and we were generally on the aggressive side when it came to accleration.

Audio

8.8

 

The 825-Watt Meridian audio system is excellent and worthy of the upgrade. The sound in the caibin was rich and full, and we enjoyed listening to it. There was no distortion at higher volumes, and the system's speakers are gorgeous, consistent with the rest of the interior.



Final Thoughts

We'll forego the likely poor projected reliability of the Velar, as well as the overly complex and fancy infotainment system because this thing is just beautiful to behold. It might not be the most expensive ride in the Land Rover stable, but it's by far the most fetching. It's so attractive, in fact, that bystanders will likely overlook the pretentiousness of the brand and stand agape. It's also quite good to drive and provides a high level of comfort and space. We just wish we weren't so overly distracted by the complexity of the in-car tech. At least you'll be the envy of the neighborhood.
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