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Land Rover Velar expands Range Rover options

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The Range Rover line got its start in 1970 when the original Range Rover model established the brand. Since that time, only three vehicles have made up the line, but that changes this year with the new Range Rover Velar.

Positioned above the Range Rover Evoque and below the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, the Velar is a mid-size model that offers a second, slightly less-pricey model depending on trim and options. I recently tested a 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE with the diesel 4-cyl. and upscale R-Dynamic trim and found it a riveting test week.

EXTERIOR EXCITEMENT

The exterior of the Velar is compelling for me. The combination of the body lines, Byron Blue paint, black trim and classy wheels really caught my eye. The slide out/flush door handles are a really slick detail that impresses every time you see it.

Velar sits lower and looks longer than a typical five-passenger crossover. It has plenty of family styling “cues” and if you look at it quickly you could confuse it for a custom Range Rover. Overall – it just looked cool and the photo with this review hardly does it justice.

POWER

Under the hood, engine choices are diverse as Velar launches with two turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinders: a diesel or a higher horsepower gas engine. A V6 is also available, but no matter which engine you select all are backed with an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. My tester came with the diesel.

CABIN CHARMS

The exterior “wows ya” and the interior “charms ya.” Open the door and the Velar’s Light Oyster and Ebony Windsor interior is a pleasant surprise, and a throwback to cars of the early 70s. The entire design, look and smell, is sophisticated and refined.

The dash is nicely padded and houses the re-worked Land Rover Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. Two screens plus a large TFT center display greet the driver. A nice feature is the Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices. My only gripe is that the capacitive touch points provide no haptic feedback, so you have to look at the screen more than I would prefer.

GET SEATED

All passengers are enveloped by a mix of premium leather, thick carpeting, rich wood trim and brushed metal accents. There are four, yes four, climate zones. The Velar’s perforated, heated, leather seats with massage are plush looking and supportive. Second-row bench seats are 40/20/40 split folding and with them down there’s up to 70.1 cu. ft. of room. My loaded Velar R-Dynamic HSE had a huge panoramic moonroof and living room-quality Meridian Premium Audio System.

HANDLING

On the road, handling is responsive, very un-crossover-like, due in part to the sophisticated double-wishbone front suspension. The Velar rides on a standard coil spring suspension (air is optional) and offers drivers multiple driving modes in Terrain Response, including Eco, Dynamic, Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Rut and Sand modes.

My Velar came with a diesel and it had plenty of torque (317 lb.-ft.) for low end grunt especially good for low traction launch. I did not get to take the test vehicle off-road, but the suspension included permanent AWD and a standard ground clearance of 8.4-in.

Featuring 20-inch wheels and three-season rubber, it handled the everyday reality of Chicago traffic, potholes and expressway jaunts, very capably.

There are few new models that are genuinely special right out of the box – the 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic is one such vehicle. It’s a little pricey, but it justifiably so, and is the blueprint for the next generation of luxury crossovers.