2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 23, 2018

The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar sets new SUV style benchmarks with its captivating body and exquisite interior.

Don’t believe in evolution? Here’s our proof du jour: the 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SUV. For most of the last century, SUVs were brutes with buckboard rides, while sedans and coupes had the aching rooflines and the fit-for-royalty cockpits.

The 2019 Range Rover Velar has both, and with 9.9 inches of ground clearance and a Land Rover badge, it’ll get somewhere off-road. How far depends on your tenacity more than its, we’d bet.

With the Velar, Range Rover badgework no longer means formality. It means expressive looks, wide-ranging performance, and decent interior space, with a twin-screen cockpit right out of science fiction, circa 1970—when the first Land Rover made its debut.

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We give the 2019 Velar a 7.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Priced from about $50,000 to more than $70,000, Velars both base and plush wear a suit swiped right from Savile Row. The Land Rover pen’s been sharper on the Evoque, but not more appealing. The Velar’s exquisite balance of SUV stance and fastback taper is entirely new to the brand, and seems assuredly timeless. With the big wheels, a lighter body color and a black roof, the Velar draws stares like no other SUV we’ve driven. Its interior may be festooned with digital screens, but its waves of pressed and textured leather and the Velar’s available wool seating mute the future and hit the right classic notes.

The 2019 Velar taps three engines, an 8-speed automatic, and standard four-wheel drive for its obedient behavior on and off road. The base engine’s a turbo-4 powered by gas, which needs more prodding with the free shift paddles; the turbodiesel-4 lags a bit behind it in response, but overdelivers on fuel economy. Fine choices, but we’d stick with the 380-horsepower supercharged V-6 that shuttles the Velar to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and softens its ride with a set of air springs. It steers well and rides even better, despite big wheels, if it’s not quite as crisp (or harsh) as a similarly specified Jaguar F-Pace.

Front passengers soak up lots of old-world eye candy in high-dollar Velars, with their leather dash and swaths of brushes aluminum. Massive touchscreens on the center console run all the secondary systems, and govern the Velar’s traction management, its infotainment, and its navigation, all with a tap, a swipe, a pinch, and a zoom. As glamorous as it is in leather, we’d spend more for a woolen cockpit with undeniable star power. The rear seats confine tall passengers a bit more than they should, but the Velar accepts more cargo than a business-class ticket flyer gets for free these days.

Aside from its swell touchscreens, the Velar now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic emergency braking, and can be trimmed with a panoramic roof, 23-speaker audio, and active lane control. It’s responsive, sharp, and devastatingly gorgeous, no matter how it’s ordered.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Styling

A ravishing SUV? Land Rover has one in the Velar.

A year down the road, the Range Rover Velar still confirms with every line and curve that it’s the best-looking SUV on the road.

We give it all the extra points, for its masterfully sculpted body to its elegant-without-being-contrived moderne interior and its bevy of screens. It’s a 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Want to design the most beautiful SUV in the world? Start without any of the SUV excesses like big, blocky grilles, heavy chrome jewelry, or other bling. Heck, you can even forget the door handles—or tuck them inside the doors when they’re not needed, a la Aston Martin.

The 2019 Velar employs all those tricks to emphatically outline a shape that’s pointedly free of tricks and gimmicks. It’s curvaceous without being hippy, detailed without the frippery. From its impossibly long hood, it follows a single character line from its headlights all the way to the tail, one big crease that unites it all.

OK, if there are some mildly unforgivable trend sins, the copper accents on the front fenders would be among them. But why punish the Velar for appealing to the trend of the day in that discreet way?

The cabin sets a stage for any modern-design monthly, minus the very well-dressed people and the ubiquitous basket of pomegranates. Unbroken spans of leather cover the upper dash, aluminum brushes across the dash in handsome accents. Oh, and there’s about two feet of digital displays stacked in the center of the dash and console, like the arrivals lounge at an all-business-class airline. Elegance doesn’t exclude technology, it includes it.

Velar interiors can get a little complex, but you have to hunt for it. Perforated leather seats are pin-pricked with a purpose: there’s a Union Jack in their dots, if you look long enough. A raised texture on the dash leather gives it ridges, not unlike the very best of potato chips. Land Rover elevates wool back to its rightful place in the seating universe: The Velar’s optional premium cloth interior serves Savile Row style for less than $1,000 over everyday leather.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Performance

The 2019 Range Rover Velar spells power a few different ways.

Though it shares structure and powertrains with the Jaguar F-Pace, the 2019 Range Rover Velar implies more off-roading than its slinky body wants to deliver. That’s fine, but doesn’t merit any more performance points than the F-Pace’s powertrains and good handling earn.

In other words, it’s an 8. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The most popular drivetrain is JLR’s time-honored supercharged V-6, which probably powers London drawbridges and some generators at Heathrow, it’s so common. It’s a sizzler: in the Velar, it’s rated at 380 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque, which Land Rover translates to a promised 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds. Oddly, the super-6 doesn’t feel very fast: It’s the same size as a V-8 (it is a V-8, with two cylinders filled in) so it’s heavy, and it doesn’t sound very refined in the Velar, despite lots of creamy high-end audio and sound-damping material.

Another choice, one that’s easier on the wallet, is the turbo-4 powered by gasoline. About $10,000 less expensive than the supercharged V-6, the turbo-4 Velar sports 247 hp and 269 lb-ft, and it takes just another second to reach 60 mph. It too doesn’t sound very confident at the top of its rev range, and to pass swiftly on interstates, the driver needs to plan a bit better, and make use of the shift paddles that control the Velar’s 8-speed automatic.

There’s one more powertrain option; another $1,500 over the gas turbo-4 gets turbodiesel power, with 317 lb-ft of pull that can yank it to 60 mph in about seven seconds. The price is modest, but in comparison, so is the performance. Given diesel’s standing in the U.S., the turbodiesel Velar takes a very specific buyer to appreciate its super-long driving range and its moderately higher fuel economy, versus the inevitable crash in resale value.

An 8-speed ZF automatic handles shifts, working quietly and willingly to make the most of any of the Velar’s engines. Paddle shift controls send the hurry-up signals for the driver, but it’s the well-sorted ZF gearbox that makes it all work nearly invisibly.

All Velars have a double-wishbone front and integral-link rear suspension; supercharged Velars get an air suspension that can raise it for as much as 9.9 inches of ground clearance, or lower it for slight improvements in fuel economy. The air suspension’s almost a must-have: with up to 22 inches of wheels on the corners and the V-6 engine, the top Velar has the talent to throw its weight around quickly, and it needs the absorbent ride the air springs deliver to max out its on-road capability. It gets busier than does the F-Pace in corners, since its off-road hardware differs and delivers much more ground clearance. Given the seat time we’ve had in Velars and in the F-Pace, we think the vehicles do an admirable job of keeping distinct brand images in line. We also think we’d take the smaller 20-inch wheels on the Velar, same as on the F-Pace, and compromise our sense of fashion for our comfort on the road.

No matter how it’s sorted, the Velar has electric power steering with confident and accurate response, though it’s bereft of any information. Sport mode puts more weight into the steering, but there’s an elastic, artificial quality to the Velar’s steering that pitches it more in the SUV realm than its elegant body does.

Turbo-4 Velars can tow up to 5,200 pounds; V-6s, up to 5,500 pounds.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Comfort & Quality

The Velar’s front-seat comfort and exquisite taste win the day.

Related to the Jaguar F-Pace, the Land Rover Range Rover Velar presents nearly as striking a shape, wrapped around an interior that’s useful and versatile, one that comes with a few minor compromises.

We golf-clap for its front seats, its cargo space, and its exquisite interior, and give it an 8 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Three inches shorter than a Range Rover Sport, but longer than an Evoque, the Velar doesn’t stretch to jam in a couple of near-useless third-row seats. It’s optimized for five adults, and that may be a bit of a stretch.

Take a seat in front; it’s the best place to soak up the Velar aesthetic, from its multi-adjustable front seats (as many as 20 ways) that support passengers in well-padded comfort all day. Massage, heating, and cooling, all the options are on the table for the Velar’s well-shaped front buckets. They’re also offered in a multitude—OK, a trio—of surfaces, with base vehicles’ synthetic leather giving way to the real thing in many models. At the very most expensive limits of the Velar range, Land Rover offers a fantastic woven seat that’s both painfully on-trend and on-point for vegans. Touch it, feel it, and you too may end up loving it as we did, for less than a grand more.

The back seat doesn’t come off quite as well, but two adults will find enough space for moderate trips. The seats can recline and can be heated, but the space is a bit shy. Taller passengers will bump shoulders with each other and will touch knees on the front seat backs. It’s less spacious than it is opulent: Power-recline rear seats that help create head room it doesn’t quite have tell almost the entire tale.

The Velar can hold up to 70.1 cubic feet of stuff behind the front seats, or 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Regardless of how it’s configured, the luxuriant touches applied to the cockpit could take down some SUVs at triple the price.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Safety

The Velar hasn’t been crash-tested yet.

Federal and insurance-industry crash tests haven’t been performed on the 2019 Velar, so we haven’t assigned it a score yet. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It’s a common issue for expensive, lower-volume vehicles, but if data emerges, we’ll update this page.

In the meantime, the Range Rover Velar comes with automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings. On pricey R-Dynamic models, the Velar adds blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, drowsy driver monitors, adaptive cruise control, and traffic-sign recognition as standard, while active lane control is an option.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Features

The 2019 Range Rover Velar lets passengers feast on the modern luxuries of high-res screens and thick wool seats.

Land Rover long ago realized its well-heeled buyers want a raft of technology and luxury goods, utilitarian origin story be damned.

The Velar has all it needs, and possibly all you need, in life: a spectacular warranty, excellent standard and optional equipment, and an infotainment system ripped from Silicon Valley’s newspaper headlines, if such a thing still existed.

We give it an 8, with a point dialed back for its value. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All base Velar SUVs get synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-speaker audio system, keyless ignition, automatic dual-zone climate control, and twin 10-inch touchscreens for infotainment and vehicle controls. A step up in the Velar S, and Land Rover adds power front and rear seats, 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery, navigation, an uprated audio system, and telematics services, as well as a choice between all three drivetrains.

Near the top of the range, the Velar R-Dynamic SE adds a 17-speaker audio system, 20-inch wheels, a 12.3-inch driver information cluster that stands in for analog gauges, perforated leather upholstery with a subconscious message in its holes (think British flag), automatic emergency braking, aluminum interior accents, parking sensors, and exterior details. An HSE level above this gets 20-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats, 21-inch wheels, extra Windsor leather in the cockpit, and a power-adjustable steering column. Major options include 23-speaker sound, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, 22-inch wheels, and a surround-view camera system. The Velar also offers a high-end cloth interior with wool seats that look and feel fantastic.

Range Rover Velar infotainment

Land Rover calls the two screens and associated interface in the 2019 Velar “Touch Control Pro.” New when it made its debut in last year’s Velar, the system now factors into other Range Rovers, and it’s a substantial step up from their older infotainment systems.

The twin screens divvy up functions like household chores. The top screen tilts toward the driver, and hosts displays for navigation, cameras, vehicle settings, and music and smartphone connectivity. The lower screen takes over climate controls, seat massage, defrosters front and rear, and terrain-traction systems. It’s flanked by twin rotary dials that change functions depending on what’s on the lower screen.

The menus on the system are more readable, and the swipe-touch controls give easier access to myriad functions. The navigation screen accepts pinch and zoom inputs, for example. The whole setup has little lag and has sharp displays. It’s pretty, too: the lower screen gets backgrounds to suggest the Velar’s current terrain modes.

A third screen lets the Velar skip traditional gauges, and plants a 12.3-inch configurable screen in front of the driver. It can show beautifully rendered maps, tachometer, and speedometer. With all three, and without an available head-up display, the Velar has more than 32 inches of screen space, more than most of us have in our offices.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Fuel Economy

Turbodiesel Velars fare well in fuel economy; super power pays a gas-mileage price.

The 2019 Range Rover Velar doesn’t make any fuel-saving promises with its alluring shape, but in turbodiesel form it overdelivers.

Most drivers will choose gas power, though, which is how we arrive at a score of 4 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA scores the 2019 Velar at 21 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined when fitted with the base turbo-4 engine. But most buyers opt for the gas-powered, supercharged V-6 that’s been rated at 18/24/20 mpg.

The turbodiesel Velar improves on those figures, but it’s the slowest seller. The EPA’s rated it at 26/30/28 mpg.

No electrified powertrains have been announced for the Velar; Jaguar launched its battery-electric I-Pace in 2018 and touts its 234-mile EPA driving range as the high-efficiency SUV in its lineup.

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$49,600
MSRP based on P250
 
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7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 10
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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