Despite the intrinsic constraints that an SUV’s utilitarian packaging can place on its designers, few can argue with the truly fetching two-box form that Jaguar Land Rover’s sculptors have made for the new-for-2018 Range Rover Velar crossover. But the Velar is more than just a pretty face positioned in the middle of Range Rover’s lineup of luxury utes: It also is outfitted with JLR’s new dual-screen capacitive-touch infotainment interface, which bolsters its case as a compelling subject for the 40,000-mile obstacle course that is our long-term test regimen.
While the Velar plays in a segment that includes the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, its 189.1-inch length puts it curiously close to the larger Range Rover Sport, not to mention within spitting distance of the Jaguar F-Pace and the Land Rover Discovery within the JLR empire. Generous cargo space is a result of its sizable footprint, as the Velar tops its class with 34 cubic feet of storage behind the second row and 70 cubes with the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats stowed almost flat.
We’ve had ample experience with JLR’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, which, along with a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel inline-four, serves as the Velar’s uplevel powertrain. So for this test we deferred to its base engine, a gasoline-burning turbo 2.0-liter inline-four. Output is a decent 247 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque at just 1200 revs. A ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is included, as is a full-time all-wheel-drive system with Rover’s Terrain Response system of selectable driving modes (Eco, Dynamic, Comfort, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand). Compared with the V-6–powered Velar P380 model we previously tested, our 4392-pound long-term vehicle weighs 284 pounds less.
Pricing for the entry-level P250 trim level starts at $50,895, but MSRPs can top $90K with the V-6 and a handful of options, including numerous interior color schemes and trim finishes. Our P250 R-Dynamic SE test car, which sits one rung below the top-spec R-Dynamic HSE model, started at $61,095 and features a coil-spring suspension rather than the adaptive air springs that come with the V-6, brake-based torque vectoring, full-LED head- and taillights, and darkened 20-inch wheels (18- to 22-inchers are available) wrapped with Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season tires, size 255/50R-20. Other standard SE equipment includes automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, a driver-condition monitor, a 360-degree surround-view parking assistant, specific front and rear fascias, heated and power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, and copper-colored accents on the hood and front flanks.
The Velar’s concept-car presentation carries into the modernist cabin with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster (on SE models and above) and the twin 10.0-inch InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment screens in the center stack. Materials, including the satin-aluminum trim pieces and the geometric-patterned dash and door inserts, are attractive and feel high in quality. And there are ample amenities, including a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and an 825-watt Meridian audio system with 17 speakers.
Helping to inflate our example’s final tally to $67,235 was a $610 coat of Santorini Black paint and the $1495 Drive Pro package (adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and traffic-sign recognition). We also tacked on $1330 for front-seat heating and ventilation and heated rear seats, $615 for SiriusXM satellite radio, and $580 for the On/Off-Road package’s adaptive Terrain Response 2 system, All Terrain Progress Control (low-speed off-road cruise control), and configurable chassis and powertrain settings. Other extras included a $510 power-adjustable steering column, a $385 heated windshield, a $255 heated steering wheel, $205 for Argento Pinstripe interior trim, and $155 for a pair of USB ports in the second row.