A new model slotting between the smaller Evoque and the larger Range Rover Sport, the five-passenger Velar shares a platform with Jaguar’s F-Pace crossover. While the Jag emphasizes sporty on-road dynamics, the Velar has Land Rover’s famed off-road cred. For instance, every Velar comes with AWD capable of sending power to the front or rear wheels—or equally between front and rear, depending on the surface. And with the twist of a dial, Land Rover’s standard Terrain Response system allows the driver to configure the drivetrain for snow, mud, or sand.
On the road, the Velar feels solid and heavy, not agile, and the suspension is stiff. But interior noise levels are low, and the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is quiet, refined, and pulls like it has two more cylinders. Even so, Land Rover also offers the Velar with a V6 and a turbodiesel. In addition, there’s a dizzying array of trim levels and options. But the base model is decently equipped, with a sunroof and such electronic bacon-savers as forward automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning.
The biggest negative? The infotainment system with two screens and a mismash of icons that require a lot of concentration to use. The biggest positive? That’s easy: exterior styling that’s dramatic and distinctive but not eccentric—arguably the best look of any crossover on the market.
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Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4 (247 hp), 8-speed automatic, AWD
MSRP, base model: $50,975 (as tested: $67,740)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 21/27/23
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Final Assembly: United Kingdom
Spare tire: Compact temporary