It used to be that Land Rovers were rare, exotic beasts, worthy of gawking by even the most jaded car enthusiast. But a move downmarket (Discovery, Evoque) and wider consumer acceptance due to successful branding has made Rovers downright commonplace in our trendy Southern California beachfront community. Hermosa Hondas, as it were.
Yet the styling of the new Range Rover Velar has taken the brand’s design in such a dramatic new direction that even the most cynical car audience in the world takes notice. Upright has given way to sleek.
When testing director Kim Reynolds took the Velar home to Newport Beach for a weekend, he found himself approached in parking lots by denizens transformed from blasé to besotted. As I drove through Palos Verdes, several members of the gentry pulled alongside to compliment the car. It ain’t the Lamborghini Urus, but judging by reactions, it might as well be. And much more affordable, relatively speaking.
For the base price of $70,595, the Velar R-Dynamic SE comes with a 380-hp, 332-lb-ft 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic; an electronic air suspension; permanent AWD with Eco, Dynamic, Mud/Ruts, Grass/Gravel/Snow, and Sand modes; torque vectoring by braking; dynamic stability control; and 20-inch wheels.
In addition to the usual luxury accoutrements, standard features on this trim level include a powered gesture tailgate, LED headlights, and comfy 10-way perforated leather/suedecloth seats (which for some reason don’t have lumbar support). The 360-degree parking aid with a rear camera is sharp but lacks the visual clarity and proximity precision of the BMW 530i long-termer that I just exited.
Velar options included heated/cooled front seats and heated rear seats ($1,330), Sirius satellite radio ($625), a power-adjustable steering column ($510), black roof rails ($410), a heated windshield ($385), a heated steering wheel ($255), plus two additional USB ports and a 12-volt power port ($205) and. With those goodies and a couple others, our Velar tester came to $76,041. That is some pretty rarefied air—approximately double the average new-vehicle transaction price these days.
What already stands out? The flush door handles that deploy out as you approach (way cooler than those on the Tesla Model S), as well as the thumping 825-watt Meridian sound system, which makes tinny SiriusXM programming sound theatrical and uncompressed digital audio tracks thunder and shimmer like God’s own boombox.
The new two-screen infotainment system is a huge leap forward for the brand; the user interface is far more intuitive, although the capacitive touchscreens readily smudge from fingerprints. Alas, it doesn’t connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Land Rover has said that feature will come in the future—no word as to an over-the-air update for early buyers, though.
Standard safety features include autonomous emergency braking, a rearview camera, lane departure warning, a driver condition monitor, reverse traffic detection, traffic-sign recognition, and an adaptive speed limiter.
Then there were the two pricey options that were not explained on Land Rover’s consumer or media sites: the Interior Protection and Storage package and the Basic Rear Seat Convenience package. I contacted Land Rover PR to find out what these were. The IPSP is, essentially, rubber cargo mats, a spring-loaded cargo carrier, a sunshade, and a cargo net. The BRSCP is a futuristic coat-hook and hanger setup. But if I were a Velar buyer and found $928 in unexplained charges as part of shelling out 75 large, I might have a bit of a snit.
How does the Velar drive? The elite crossover has just crossed its 2,000-mile break-in period and is on its way to track testing, so you’ll have to wait for the next installment for our first impressions.
|2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar P380 SE R-Dynamic|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$76,041|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.0L/375-hp/332-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||189.1 x 76.0 x 65.6 in|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/24/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.96 lb/mile|