Land Rover knows now where its bread is buttered. While very old Range Rovers paid lip-service to creature comforts—despite well-heeled owners begging for them—the newest Range Rover hears them loud and clear.
The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar is decadently trimmed at top levels—with cloth, no less—and features more than 30 inches of visible high-definition screens in the front seats. It’s a remarkable experience, and one that will set the table for other Range Rovers to come.
From a base score of 5, we give the Range Rover Velar points above average for its starter content, optional features, infotainment screen(s), and one more because those screens are done in a way that will find quick fans. If you’re looking for value in any of the above, have we mentioned that this is a British automaker? The Velar earns a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Base models, which are thoughtfully called “Velar,” come equipped with 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless ignition, an eight-speaker audio system, automatic dual-zone climate control, a 5.0-inch driver information display, and dual 10-inch touchscreens in the center console that we’ll discuss later.
The next step, Velar S, adds 19-inch wheels, power adjustable front and rear seats, leather upholstery, an uprated audio system, navigation, and telematics services. All three powertrains are available at this grade.
R-Dynamic SE variants are next and sport 20-inch wheels, a 17-speaker audio system, a 12.3-inch driver information cluster that replaces the analog gauges, advanced safety features, perforated leather upholstery (look closely and you’ll spot the Union Jack), parking sensors, aluminum interior accents, and exterior details.
Land Rover expects that most shoppers will opt for the R-Dynamic HSE trim level and we’re actively shopping for new best friends if those people are interested. (Coincidence? Probably not.) HSE variants get 21-inch wheels, 20-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats, more Windsor leather in the cabin (always a good idea), more advanced safety features (we cover those separately), and a power-adjustable steering column. There’s a lot to like, but at more than $70,000 to start with a V-6, there better be.
Top-of-the-line Velar First Edition versions go the whole way, and are relative values for reasons we’ll explain in a moment. First Edition trim levels come with 22-inch wheels, a heated windshield, a 23-speaker sound system, head-up display, a surround-view camera system, a Fitbit-style “activity key” that can be used instead of a typical keyfob, front seat massage functions, heated steering wheel, suede headliner, premium carpeting, and special door plates and plaques. It’s possible to spec an HSE version to the same content as a First Edition trim, but that HSE would far exceed the First Edition’s eye-watering starting price of around $90,500. Yeah, we know.
Honorable mention: The Velar is offered with a “premium cloth” option for upstream buyers (or eco-friendly) that when covering the seats makes them feel “real, and they’re fantastic”—to borrow a line from “Seinfeld.”
Touch Pro Duo
The Velar’s “killer app” this year is its unique infotainment setup that even the engineers who built it didn’t know what to call it—they just called it “the blade.”
It’s dual 10-inch touchscreens that are canted toward the driver; the top screen tilts forward and the bottom screen is freestanding with space underneath for small items.
The touchscreens work in concert, with little overlap between them. The top 10-inch screen handles navigation, music, vehicle information, connectivity, camera, and setting information, while the bottom screen handles climate control, terrain management, seat massage (if equipped), and front and rear defrosters. Two rotary dials flank the bottom touchscreen but they’re contextual—they control different functions for the menu selected. (Engineers didn’t know what to call those either, they just landed on “magic rings.”)
A single volume knob is the only redundant hard key anywhere, and it’s useful.
The Velar’s system is adapted from prior generations of Land Rover’s infotainment, but not copied over. The Velar’s menus are more straightforward and offer a different look on the tile design that older models have used. The home screen is clean and readable, swiping right brings up a configurable menu for commonly used items. Swiping left past the home screen brings up icons for all available commands. Navigation can pinch to zoom in and out in a relatively responsive manner, and the whole system is sharp with little lag between inputs.
Where the top screen is evolutionary, the bottom screen will be revolutionary for most buyers.
The 10-inch display features a small dropdown for redundant audio controls and phone functions.
Aside from climate and seat controls, the second screen boasts is the nerve farm for Land Rover’s new terrain management system that toggles between sport, comfort, eco, and off-road modes including snow, sand, mud, and crawling. Each separate icon has its own beautiful tableau that serves as a reminder for each setting, and when used with the optional air suspension system, can be further configurable.
The third member of Land Rover’s terrific trio is a 12.3-inch configurable driver information display that can show map data, vehicle settings, speedometer, tachometer, and other information in a beautifully rendered screen. Skipping the head-up display means that there are 32.3 inches of high-definition displays in many Velars—more real estate than most of our childhood televisions.
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