We drove a $90,000 Range Rover Velar SUV that’s taking on rivals from Mercedes and BMW — here’s what it was like

Our 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE test car.

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Our 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE test car.
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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • The Range Rover Velar is brand new for 2018.
  • It’s the latest addition to Land Rover‘s Range Rover family of luxury SUVs.
  • The Range Rover Velar is available with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a supercharged V6, and a turbo diesel.
  • Our Velar R-Dynamic HSE test car came with a 3.0 liter, 380 horsepower supercharged V6.
  • In the marketplace, the midsize Velar competes against established rivals like the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
  • The 2018 Range Rover Velar starts at $49,900 while our option laden test car carried an as-tested price of $90,170.

For much of its life, Range Rover was about its tall rugged stance and squared off edges.

But what may have started life as a no-nonsense Land Rover with an extra dose of civility, has now spawned into a family of sleek luxury SUVs.

Range Rover is one of three families of vehicles that live under the Land Rover corporate umbrella. The other two are Discovery and the temporarily dormant Defender.

These days, Range Rover is sleek, sexy, and stylish. While it may be perfectly comfortable slogging through the jungles of Borneo, its look is decidedly more Beverly Hills boutique.

The latest addition to the Range Rover clan is the midsize Velar.

The Velar may be brand new for 2018 but its name dates back to the very beginning of Range Rover’s existence.

In the late 1960s, Land Rover used to the Velar moniker on its secret Range Rover prototypes to keep prying eyes at bay. Nearly five decades later, it reappears as a standalone model.

Recently, Jaguar Land Rover lent us a top-of-the-line 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE in Byron Blue. The base Velar starts at $49,900 while our V6-powered R-Dynamic HSE started at $77,100. Options and fees pushed our test car’s as-tested price to a lofty $90,170.

Let’s take a closer look:


The Velar is the latest addition to Land Rover’s family of four Range Rover SUVs.

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With a starting price of $49,900, the Velar slots in above the compact Evoque and…

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Jaguar Land Rover

…Below the Range Rover Sport and…

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…The Range Rover.

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In the marketplace, the midsize Velar is a direct rival for big hitters like the BMW X5,…

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…Mercedes-Benz GLE, and…

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Mercedes-Benz

… The Porsche Macan.

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It also competes against the corporate siblings Land Rover Discovery and…

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Hollis Johnson

…Jaguar F-PACE.

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Aesthetically, the Velar offers a sleek, ultra-modern interpretation of the looks we’ve become accustomed to in recent Range Rovers.

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Up front, it features the brand’s signature clamshell hood and imposing front grille.

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Out back, the Velar’s look is punctuated by Range Rover’s famous floating roofline and horizontal rear lights.

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The Velar’s striking looks is the work of Land Rover’s design team led by the brand’s chief creative officer Gerry McGovern.

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Jaguar Land Rover

According to Jaguar Land Rover, the name Velar comes from the Latin verb velare which means to hide or conceal. And the Range Rover certainly lives up to its name with an ultra-minimalist look that dominates inside and out.

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For instance, the Velar’s door handles retract into the vehicle thereby creating a smooth undisturbed exterior.

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The “hidden” theme continues inside with a cabin that’s virtually devoid of buttons. Instead, the highlight of the interior is the various display screens that effectively take up the entire center console.

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Land Rover equipped the Velar with its new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system which features a pair of 10-inch high definition touchscreens.

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Touch Pro Duo performed well during our time with the Velar. Dual screen systems tend not to have a great track record of success, but it looks like Land Rover made it work here. Both high definition screens were crisply rendered with relatively easy to use functions.

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The top screen is reserved for entertainment, navigation, and cameras, while the lower screen is used for comfort and convenience features as well as..

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…The Velar’s drive mode selector.

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The Range is also equipped with a pair of multi-function rotary dials with a five-inch TFT display located in between the duo. There are also displays located inside each dial.

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In front of the driver, the Velar’s festival of displays continues with a 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster.

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The Velar’s other tech features include a 360-degree camera system, high-speed Wifi hotspot, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and a 1,600 Meridian Signature sound system.

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Speaking of tech, the Velar is equipped with Jaguar Land Rover’s activity key which is a waterproof bracelet that lets you engage in physical activity without the need to keep a key on your person. Simply tap a portion of the Range Rover logo on the rear hatch to lock and unlock the doors.

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The Velar’s cabin is elegant, stylish, and quiet. Fit and finish feel solid here and really delivers a sense of quality.

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The Velar will comfortably seat five while the massive panoramic roof fills the cabin with sunshine.

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Lift up the Velar’s single-piece rear hatch and…

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…You’ll find that it boasts 15.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row. Fold down the rear seats and cargo capacity jumps to 70 cubic feet.

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Under the hood, our Range Rover Velar is powered by the optional 380 horsepower 3.0 liter, supercharged V6 sending power to a permanent all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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The supercharged six was simply amazing. The engine’s broad torque band gives the driver access to gobs of power across the rev range. It’s a gem of an engine that we have enjoyed in a host of other Jaguar Land Rover products ranging from the F-Type sports car to the Land Rover Discovery SUV.

The Velar comes standard with a 247 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder. A 2.0 liter, 180 hp turbo-diesel is also an available option.


According to Jaguar Land Rover, the Velar can do 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.

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What’s it like to drive?

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The Range Rover Velar drives exceptionally well on road. It’s particularly fleet of foot through the corners thanks to its nifty torque vectoring system that brakes Velar’s inside rear wheel.

The Velar’s steering is a bit vague but well weighted while the adjustable air suspension delivers Jaguar XJ-quality ride comfort. The 4,400-pound SUV definitely feels more like a sedan than an off-roader of great pedigree.

As for off-tarmac driving, we did not get the opportunity to put the Velar through its paces in the wilds of New Jersey. But with the ride height raised, the Velar boasts 9.8 inches of ground clearance and the ability to wade through 25.6 inches of water.


The verdict.

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Any car company with a solid lineup of luxury SUVs can effectively print money under current market conditions. With with so much cash up for grabs, the market is also incredibly competitive. Everyone brings their A-game and anyone who doesn’t gets pushed aside by the consumer very quickly.

Lower cost models sell at high volumes but tend to boast lower profit margins. While pricier, high-end vehicles offer great profit margin but tend to sell at much lower volumes. With the Velar, Jaguar Land Rover has a product that lives comfortably at the heart of the midsize luxury SUV market where car companies can strike the perfect balance between high margin and high volume.

So for JLR, the Range Rover Velar isn’t a luxury, but a necessity amid stiff competition from German, American, and Japanese premium brands.

Fortunately, JLR really hit it out of the park with the Velar. In all honesty, we really can’t think of anything really wrong with it.

Our Range Rover Velar test car was great to drive, comfortable to ride in, is loaded with tech that works, and is beautifully styled.