Despite both my parents having careers in the fashion industry, the fashion gene appears to have skipped me. My approach to fashion mirrors my attitude toward just about everything from cars to cuisine—KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Yet even I can appreciate the game-elevating styling the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar P250 R-Dynamic SE brings to the table. Despite lacking the Posh Spice seal of approval, the fashion-forward Range Rover Velar brings a lot to the crowded two-row luxury crossover space—and it’d better, considering how pricey and late to the game it is.
Built on a modular architecture shared with the Jaguar F-Pace, the Range Rover Velar is designed to fill the narrow white space between the baby Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. This luxury crossover is intended to be the Range Rover line’s most carlike offering while still providing the off-road capability that the Land Rover badge demands. Given this goal, the Range Rover design team fully delivered—especially with a well-equipped sample like our Velar R-Dynamic tester. The extra-sporty Velar R-Dynamic is strikingly handsome and concept car pretty, with a rakish station wagon–esque look outside and a beautifully finished cabin inside.
With the Velar’s neck-snapping looks bound to bring buyers into the Range Rover section of the showroom, Land Rover was content to borrow three (quite good) powertrains from the Jaguar F-Pace—a 180-hp turbodiesel I-4, a 380-hp supercharged V-6, and the base engine found in our Velar P250 tester, a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 that produces 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of toque. Like the F-Pace, all Velars get an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
Despite the Velar P250 R-Dynamic SE’s sporty looks, its performance at our test track was far more modest. Our four-cylinder Velar accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and went through the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 85.7 mph. That’s substantially slower than our comparably equipped Velar P380 R-Dynamic SE long-termer, which needs 5.7 seconds to hit 60 mph and runs the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 97.7 mph.
Comparing our turbo-four Velar P250’s acceleration figures to its V-6-powered stablemate is admittedly unfair. But compared to other four-cylinder-powered luxury crossovers—like our 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic long-termer or a 2018 Volvo XC60 T5 we tested recently—the Velar P250 is still a bit poky compared to those admittedly shorter and lighter-weight models. The Mercedes hits 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and runs the quarter mile in 15.2 seconds at 89.6 mph; the Volvo is faster still, hitting 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and completing the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 91.5 mph. The Velar P250’s unhurried performance continued in our figure-eight test, where it lapped our course in 26.9 seconds at an average 0.65 g, trailing both its German and Swedish rivals. Still, it doesn’t feel so slow out on the road.
The Velar is unquestionably the most carlike vehicle Land Rover makes. From behind the wheel it just feels like a big, tall station wagon. The Velar’s ride and handling team deserve the lion’s share of the credit here. The ride is firm, sporty even, but not in any way punishing. It dispatches even the most brutal impacts fairly quickly and without tossing your head around or sending things in the cabin flying—kind of surprising considering the 20-inch wheels on our tester. Steering is nicely balanced in the default Comfort setting, too. It’s well weighted and reasonably accurate at the same time. Dynamic mode ups feel, making it more direct, sharp, and, yes, sporty. It’s good for cutting up a good back road (and quite fun doing that, too), but Comfort should leave most drivers more than satisfied.
Despite the Velar’s four-cylinder engine holding it back in track tests, it’s actually a pretty nice little motor. It makes its power down low in its rev band, and the Velar’s smart-shifting eight-speed auto helps make the most of it. Although it isn’t fast, the Velar feels quick enough around town and for most freeway driving. Most remarkable is how smooth the four-pot is—even working at wide-open throttle, the engine doesn’t transmit any vibration or harshness into the cabin.
For all its shortcomings at the test track, the place the Velar needs the most work is inside the cabin. Like many high-fashion items, the Velar’s cabin is high on style but low on functionality. First the good: The Velar’s interior is downright gorgeous. From the Union Jack–cut leather seats to the beautiful dashboard design, this middleweight Range Rover is just as stunning to sit in as it is to look at. Material quality is on point—as it should be considering its $61,095 starting price and $76,435 as-tested price—and the seats both fore and aft are comfortable and spacious.
That’s all well and good, but the Velar’s infotainment suite leaves a lot to be desired. The Velar, like the latest Range Rover Sport and Range Rover, features a high-resolution dual-screen infotainment suite. The setup looks nice, but it’s difficult to use, at best. The top screen handles everything from navigation and off-road info to media and phone duties, and the bottom screen is responsible for climate control, seat massage, drive mode, and phone and media functions. Although there are some effective touchscreen infotainment systems out there—Volvo’s Sensus system and Tesla’s infotainment suite spring to mind—Range Rover’s system is slow to respond, unintuitively laid out, and difficult to use while driving. For example, to change the satellite radio station, you have to take your eyes off the road and tap a small, square button on the top screen to manually cycle through stations. You’d better hope you don’t have to jump more than three or four stations, because by that point the system starts to lag behind your inputs. The system frequently makes what should be a one- or two-keystroke task into a multistep operation. It all goes back to four letters: KISS. It’s possible to work around a lot of poorly engineered infotainment systems by simply plugging in your iPhone or Android device and using either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but unfortunately, neither of those alternatives is currently available on the Velar—or any Land Rover vehicle, for that matter.
The Land Rover Range Rover Velar P250 ultimately delivers the fashion-forward experience its presence promises. It’s beautiful to behold inside and out and has exceptional material quality. It, like many fashion-forward items, lacks a bit of functionality—in this case, sacrificing some performance and infotainment user-friendliness—but the Velar’s unmistakable style largely makes it all worth it.
|2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar P250 SE R-Dynamic|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$76,435|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/247-hp/269-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,391 lb (50/50%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||189.1 x 76.0 x 65.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.0 sec @ 85.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.9 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||18.0/28.0/21.4 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/27/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.83 lb/mile|