The 2018 Range Rover Velar is a high-tech off-roader

Land Rover is betting big on this stylish, midsize SUV.

The 2018 Range Rover Velar has a sharp exterior design.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar has a sharp exterior design. –George Kennedy

The 2018 Range Rover Velar is Land Rover’s newest midsize luxury crossover SUV. “Velar” was the internal name for the very first Range Rover while it was in development more than 45 years ago, according a Land Rover news release. Even though the name is a hat-tip to the past, the SUV’s sleek design and decked-out cabin are nods toward the future.

The Velar looks much like the flagship Range Rover, but it’s a bit more refined. The roof is lower and tapers back with the rising belt-line to give the impression of speed, even when it’s parked. Size-wise, the vehicle slots below the Range Rover Sport and just above the Range Rover Evoque.

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Inside, soft-touch and leather give the cabin an expectedly luxurious feel. In addition to the leather interior, Land Rover now offers a premium non-leather alternative developed by Kvadrat. It’s the first time the brand has offered fabric at the high end of its lineup, and it presents another option for car shoppers who find leather uncomfortable in the extreme heat and cold.

The cabin’s centerpiece is the “Touch Pro Duo,” a new digital touchscreen console that takes over the area where the climate controls would typically go. With the push of a button, large icons at the top of the screen switch from Settings to Climate Controls to Seats — which come available as heated, ventilated, and/or massaging — to Vehicle, which manages the off-road and suspension controls.

The cabin of the Velar. Note the touch-sensitive center console. —George Kennedy

The implementation of such layouts by other automakers has been unnecessarily confusing, but Land Rover made this feature quite logical. It has real temperature and volume knobs protruding from the screen, which help to make adjusting the cabin’s comfort level quick and easy.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

High-tech features go beyond the center console, too. The driver’s seat is greeted with a fully digital instrument panel. On start-up, the high-definition 10-inch touchscreen comes to life and tilts out of its bezel to minimize glare. The Velar is the automaker’s first vehicle to feature heads-up display, which projects critical information like vehicle speed at the bottom of the windshield. This new version adds more color and sharper graphics compared with older iterations in other Land Rover models.

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Under the hood, three options are available: The base engine is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Land Rover also offers a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 180 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, or a range-topping 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.

Models with the V6 also come with available air suspension and a locking rear differential. All models get an 8-speed automatic transmission sending power to full-time all-wheel drive.

The Velar negotiating rock trails. —George Kennedy

We spent time driving all three variants during routine conditions. The air suspension on the V6 was smooth on the highway, but the non-air suspension model exhibited minimal body roll when cornering around town. No matter the trim, steering was tight enough to allow for easy parking. All models also had an auto-stop function that cuts the engine at idle to save fuel. It’s minimally invasive, but can be canceled out by going to the “Vehicle” menu in the touchscreen console. The V6 had more than enough power, but the four-cylinder gas engine was the real surprise. In our time driving the four-cylinder model, we never pined for more power.

We drove off-road with the V6 R-Dynamic. The off-road crawl feature, called Terrain Progress Control, is the best driving-related feature on the new Velar. It’s essentially cruise control for the trail, modulating power delivery in climbs and controlling the brakes during descent. Speed is adjustable with the cruise control speed toggle on the steering wheel. It’s handles well in sand and dirt — probably the limits of where most owners will use it — as well as rocky trails, even though it’s not designed for serious rock crawling.

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Base MSRP for the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar is $49,900. The diesel model starts at $56,200, while the supercharged V6 comes in at $64,200. The price shoots up with options, especially the R-Dynamic-equipped vehicles. A fully loaded, supercharged V6 R-Dynamic costs around $87,000.

Under the Hood

Engine: 2.0L turbocharged I4; 2.0L turbodiesel I4; 3.0L supercharged V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Power: 2.0L: 247 horsepower; 2.0L Diesel: 180 horsepower; 3.0 V6: 380 horsepower
Miles per gallon (city/highway/combined): 2.0L: 21/27/23; 2.0L Diesel: 26/30/28; 3.0 V6: 18/24/20
Also consider: Audi Q5, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace

 

Correction, 10/24/2017: This story has been corrected to clarify that the non-leather fabric is developed by Kvadrat, not called “Kvadrat.” Boston.com regrets the error.

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