Land Rover has one of the most well-rounded SUV lineups available, but it was missing a midsize, two-row luxury SUV. Enter the 2018 Range Rover Velar, which is poised to put the midsize luxury SUV set on notice.
The Velar announces its arrival with clean lines and minimal details, resulting in a dramatic overall appearance. Like its exterior, the interior lines are simple, yet the cabin is chock full of features. It is the stuff of designers’ dreams. If there’s a better-looking interior on a new car today, I’ve yet to discover it.
The general interior design ethos of the Velar is similar to that of previous models, but what makes the Velar stand out is the Touch Pro Duo, a dual-screen setup that replaces conventional center-console controls.
The lower touch-control panel consists of large icons atop the screen, including Climate, Seats, Vehicle, and Settings. Pressing each icon changes the layout of the screen. Other automakers have attempted similar control layouts before — namely Honda/Acura and Infiniti — but they haven’t been executed as well as the Velar’s.
The difference? Protruding from the lower screen are a pair of dials, whose purpose changes based on the menu screen. If in Seats, the dials control the heated and/or cooled seating function. In Vehicle, a dial lets the driver cycle through the various drive modes.
This is what Honda didn’t get for many years, and is only finally getting now: You can pack all the tech you want into a new car, but for more than a century, people have used real dials and switches to interact with a car. Land Rover understands this, and has seamlessly blended tech and tactile features as a result.
Under the hood, three engines are available: The base model comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter making 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. There is also an available 2.0-liter turbodiesel that makes 180 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. The range-topping, supercharged 3.0-liter V6 puts out 296 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.
All engines route power through an eight-speed automatic transmission to full-time, all-wheel drive.
The Velar boasts a personality that’s common among many modern SUVs. It defaults to comfort, but it’s fully capable of performance when called upon. Auto provides lively acceleration and responsive handling, and these attributes are accentuated in Dynamic mode. It becomes a dialed-in machine with performance worthy of any sport sedan. Meanwhile, the air suspension levels out the Velar, and it’s fantastic at soaking up the ever-changing topography of New England’s roads.
The most efficient engine is the diesel, which returns a fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon in the city, 30 on the highway, and 28 combined. The base 2.0-liter gas engine returns 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway, and 23 combined, while the V6 puts up 18 in the city, 24 on the highway, and 27 combined.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar has a base price of $49,900, but as with many comparable vehicles, the price climbs quickly. Our fully loaded V6 D-Dynamic had a sticker price in excess of $90,000.
Vehicles like the Porsche Macan and the Jaguar F-Pace are chief among its rivals and command similar price tags.
Correction: A previous version of this story included an incorrect combined fuel economy figure for the Velar’s diesel engine. Boston.com regrets the error.