True, like some of Land Rover’s other products, the Range Rover lineup gets dinged for reliability. But these luxury SUVs aren’t merely status symbols: much like the Defender, Range Rovers can actually range off-pavement. The entry-level Evoque crossover is no exception, either. Though at first glance, the more style-focused Range Rover Velar would seem to exclusively belong to urban environments. However, like some of Jaguar Land Rover’s other products, it’s more off-road-capable than some might imagine.
2020 Range Rover Velar specs and features
For 2020, the Range Rover Velar is split into 3 trim levels: base, R-Dynamic, and SVO. The base trim includes the $56,300 P250 and $62,200 P340. The R-Dynamic range consists of the $58,500 S P250, $64,400 S P340, and $75,300 S P380. And the SVO trim’s sole model is the $90,790 SV Autobiography Dynamic P550.
Each Range Rover Velar comes standard with all-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic. The P250 trim uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 247 hp and 269 lb-ft. The P340, meanwhile, has a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which makes 340 hp and 332 lb-ft. The P380 trim bumps the V6 up to 380 hp. And finally, the P550 comes with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8, which puts out 550 hp and 502 lb-ft.
Inside, each Velar comes with a dual-screen infotainment system, voice control, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Lane-departure warning and automatic-emergency braking are standard across the board. And for 2020, Land Rover equips every Range Rover Velar with satellite radio, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, and blind-spot monitoring.
Car and Driver recommends the R-Dynamic P250, which adds unique metal accents inside and out, and gives more interior trim options. And for those interested in off-roading, there’s the Dynamic Handling Package. This includes air suspension, locking rear differential, off-road cruise control, and an upgraded version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. This alters the crossover’s engine, AWD system, suspension, and transmission settings based on the terrain you’re driving on.
How the Range Rover Velar behaves on- and off-road
On paved roads, the Range Rover Velar is an excellent luxury vehicle.
Interior materials are excellent, and Land Rover offers vegan-friendly alternatives to leather. Everything that looks like metal is metal, including the shift paddles, Truck Trend reports. Both the interior and exterior are exercises in simplicity, hence eliminating switches for dual touchscreens. Even the exterior door handles recede when not in use.
Handling, given the Velar’s size, isn’t exactly sports-car-like. However, especially with the optional air suspension, the crossover doesn’t embarrass itself in corners, Expedition Portal reports. And the ride is very comfortable, even over potholed roads.
The Velar is also able to handle itself off-road. With the air suspension, it has a 9.9” of ground clearance and can wade through water 25.6” deep, Roadshow reports. While it’s definitely no Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner, it’s not limited to just gravel-strewn roads.
You do have to be very careful about larger obstacles and rocks, Jalopnik reports. Luckily, there are multiple cameras that you can use to spot them. Also, the off-road cruise control operates smoothly enough that you can leave it on in moderate conditions, Expedition Portal reports. There’s even a wade sensor that determines if the water you’re wading into is too deep, Roadshow reports.
However, the Range Rover Velar isn’t a perfect luxury crossover.
Where it still needs work
For one, the Range Rover Velar is still plagued by electronic glitches. When Autotrader’s Doug Demuro tested a Velar, its center touchscreens froze completely. Unfreezing them took multiple reset attempts. Car and Driver’s long-term Velar P250 still glitched occasionally even after a major software update.
Secondly, Car and Driver notes the least-expensive P250’s engine struggles to get the Velar up to speed. Especially in 50-70 mph tests, which measure highway passing ability. And although the Range Rover Velar is comfortable, it’s not particularly enjoyable to drive.
Furthermore, equipping a Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic P250 to decent off-roading spec puts the crossover at almost $64,000. For just a little more, you could get a 3-row Mercedes-Benz GLE450 with AWD and active suspension. The latter lets the GLE bounce in place to free itself from sand, mud, or dirt. It’s otherwise just as luxurious and capable as the Velar, and more reliable.
Or, if you want a crossover that can venture off-road, but is more fun on the pavement, the Porsche Macan is the better choice. The 248-hp base model starts at $50,900; or you can get the 348-hp S for $59,400. It’s also a Car and Driver 10Best pick, and more reliable than either the GLE or Velar.
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