Driven: Land Rover Range Rover Velar


Land Rover’s place in the SUV market is defined by two product lines: Range Rover and Discovery. The Range Rover series represents the apex of the brand, while the Discovery line is representative of those models we typically think of as Land Rover.

The Range Rover Velar is the third of four Range Rover models, situated between the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover Evoque. The eponymous Range Rover is the range-topping model. The Velar, though, is no shrinking violet. It brings to the Range Rover line a distinctly modern look inside and out, and a long list of features.


2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Review


Our focus model is the range-topping SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, which starts at $90,790. Our test model added a few extras, bringing its final cost to just above $95,000, including the destination charge.

Exterior

The Velar may be the most modern of all Range Rover models, although a case can also be made for the Evoque. This five-passenger midsize luxury SUV is more subdued upfront than some competitors, eschewing an oversized grille, deep cutouts, and huge lights for something more subtle.

But subtle doesn’t mean it lacks panache – the Velar simply finds a way to impart elegance without gauche. Who said sophistication must be over the top? Strong shoulders, powerful roof pillars, a high beltline, and a formal expression define this model.

The SVAutobiography delivers features unique to this trim, including 21- or 22-inch gloss dark gray wheels, red brake calipers, special paint options, and bright chrome trim. An active sports exhaust system, sports suspension, and a sliding panoramic roof are other features of note.



Interior

Just as Range Rover pulls off the exterior with a peerless design, the interior delivers its own winning attributes.

The Velar’s cabin is roomy, bright, and rich in luxurious appointments. The best seats are upfront and this is where Range Rover pulls out all the stops with plush, supportive thrones. They come heated and ventilated, and deliver massaging support. They’re ideal for your in-between visits to the chiropractor and likely will be used frequently to relax tight and tired back muscles.

As comfortable as the front seats are, it is the material that wows the senses. As you might expect, Range Rover offers standard leather-covered seats. They’re beautiful and comfortable, just as you would expect from this quintessential British marque. But it is the available woven-wool seats that look and feel best, a natural alternative we think is bound to become an industry pacesetter. And not just for its feel, but as a choice for consumers who don’t like animal hides.

The rear seat is best for two and bearable for three adults. The power-reclining outboard seatbacks are a welcome feature.

Other features of note include a heated steering wheel, metal touches such as aluminum gearshift handles, thick carpeting, and choice interior color combinations.

The Velar’s standard storage space measures 29.4 cubic feet or 60.2 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. These numbers are about average for the class. This SUV pulls up to 5,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Tech

Where some competitors have big screens bolted to the top of the center console, the Velar’s screens are integrated into the dashboard and center console. Yes, there are two 10-inch-screens at work, with each tasked with managing different controls, including the infotainment (top) and passenger comfort (bottom). Called Touch Pro Duo, the system enables navigation on the top screen while playing media on the bottom screen.

All models come with Smart Phone Pack, representing a suite of features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Optionally, customers can upgrade to a rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of 8-inch screens embedded in the rear of the front-seat headrests. Choose this option if regular rood trips are part of your family’s experience.

Land Rover taps Meridian to supply its sound systems and the Velar offers choices worth considering. On the top end, the 22-speaker unit supplies concert-hall-like sound throughout the cabin with every seating position the “best seat in the house.”

Satellite radio and HD Radio are included; USB input, a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, and Bluetooth are other features of note.



Safety

All Velar trims come with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and front and rear parking assist. Our top-trim model included each of the extras: driver attention monitoring, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display. Some mainstream models include most of these features as standard equipment.

Like other pricey models, neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has put the Velar through crash testing. That said, we think its high-profile and weight are benefits that work in its favor.

Performance

Powering the SVAutobiography is a supercharged V8 engine with 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. This engine delivers massive amounts of power from the onset, enabling this two-ton-plus beast to scoot from 0-60 mph in just above four seconds. That’s laudable for any vehicle, but it seems even more impressive for this substantial SUV.

By utilizing a supercharger, this Velar enjoys full power from the start, although it drops somewhat at passing speed. That’s the opposite of a turbocharger that spools up to deliver its best power at wide-open throttle.

The Velar’s heft seems largely absent as the V8 pushes forward. Other Velar trims offer a 2.0-liter turbo-four or a twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. This one is a far superior choice, but is exclusive to the top trim. All models work with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a knob-controlled unit that serves up cogs with ease.

With its air suspension, the Velar almost feels as if it floats, with the cabin well isolated from rough road surfaces. The steering is light, but engaging. This SUV handles reasonably well on twisty roads and while pulling out of corners but make no mistake that this is a high-profile vehicle and it can’t match the Jaguar F-Type in corner-carving.

You can take the Velar off-road with its terrain response system enabling your excursion. We think, though, the Defender is the better choice in this department, although the Velar’s active rear locking differential proves its mettle.

Competitive Set

One of the Velar’s closest competitors is the Jaguar F-Pace, its corporate cousin. Other models to consider include the Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, BMW X5, and the Volvo XC60.


Our Recommendation


Inasmuch as the Velar SVAutobiography is an outstanding trim in its own right, we think the middle Velar S trim is the best choice. This one comes with the twin-turbo six-cylinder engine and supplies access to many trim embellishments, audio upgrades, and design features. You’ll pay about $70,000 for a well-equipped model, which is still thousands of dollars less than some competitors.


2020 Land Rover
Range Rover Velar Specifications


Land Rover 2020 Range Rover Velar
Segment Midsize Luxury SUV
Price Range $56,300 to $90,790
Destination Charge $875
Standard Engine 5.0 liter, supercharged V8
Horsepower 550 @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 502 @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 4,595
Wheelbase (inches) 113.1
Length (inches) 189.2
Width (inches) 80.0
Height (inches) 70.0
Head room (f,r…inches) 38.2, 38.0
Legroom (f,r…inches) 47.4, 36.8
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) NR
Hip room (f,r…inches) NR
Storage (cubic feet) 29.4, 60.2
Gross vehicle weight rating (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) 5,511
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 21.7
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) NR
Manufacturing Plant Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


See AlsoLuxury Elevated: Range Rover Velar

Photos copyright Jaguar Land Rover.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.