Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic — Near perfect execution

By Jim Prueter

(April 12, 2020) In 50 years of building the most luxurious and capable off-road vehicles, new Range Rover models have not come along that often. But recently, the British automaker introduced the avant-garde Velar, a midsized two-row beauty that slots between the smaller Evoque and larger Range Rover Sport.

It’s available in four trim levels, and we drove the range-topping SVAutobiography Dynamic edition produced by Jaguar-Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division. The SVAutobiography is closely related to the Jaguar F-Pace SVR utility vehicle, sharing mechanicals including the supercharged 5.0-liter 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine with 502 pound-feet of torque, and SV-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission to power its all-wheel drive setup.

Despite weighing in at a portly 4800-pounds, our test Velar reached 60 mph from a standing start in an impressive 3.8 seconds and conquered the quarter mile in just 12.3 seconds. Even more impressive is the effortlessness and smoothness in achieving those feats. It’s not the type of enjoyment you get from driving a Porsche 911, but it brings a smile to your face and is more than enjoyable to drive.

Most will never leave paved roads – unless the driver happens to fall asleep at the wheel. Range Rovers are destined to spend their lives negotiating the traffic and ruthless terrain of Scottsdale Road, Rodeo Drive, or Fifth Avenue, but that doesn’t minimize the Velar’s world-class off-road performance capability.

Velar is arguably the best off-roader in its segment and comes standard with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which includes a variety of traction control modes for traversing rocks, mud, snow, and sand. Additional features include a locking rear differential, a low-speed crawl control system, and an adaptive air suspension that raises the Velar’s ground clearance.

Instantly recognizable as a Range Rover by borrowing visual design cues from its siblings, the front end of our SVAutobiography distinguishes itself from other models with its unique front bumper design, including larger air inlets, integrated lower spoiler, 21-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, exaggerated sloping roofline and four extra-large exhaust pipes below the rear valance.

Among the exterior high-tech features are flush door handles — a Range Rover first — that deploy when the doors are unlocked and retract into the doors when the car is locked, or at speeds above 5 mph. The intelligent laser matrix headlamps are an amazing feature, capable of casting a precise shadow so as to not blind the driver of an oncoming vehicle.

The Velar’s cabin has a minimalist look to it, yet is a jubilance of rich materials with superb fit and finish. There’s room for five individuals on the perforated quilted Windsor leather heated and cooled seats. Power massaging is included in the front seats and power reclining seats (40:20:40) in the rear. The leather is finished in what Range Rover calls Ebony/Pimento.

The cabin also features what the company calls its first true “glass” cockpit with two 10-inch touch Pro Duo operational screens with a lower center stack including capacitive switches and graphics. The upper screen operates the navigation and infotainment functions including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The lower screen and two dials control the climate and seat settings, driving modes and other functions. It needs a lot of driver attention due to control dials that operate different functions depending on which menu is being
displayed. It’s the same issue with steering-wheel-mounted buttons and controls that also that change function depending upon the menu selection.  Again, the look is futuristic and nominal, but we found most of the operating controls non-intuitive and frustrating to use.

Velar safety features include a standard rearview camera
, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, driver drowsiness monitoring, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Our SVAutobiography Velar included the $1300 optional driver assist pack with adaptive cruise control, high speed emergency braking, park assist, 360° parking aid, and rear traffic monitor.

With formidable competition from the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and others, it’s no easy task to stand out from the crowd. But Velar’s impressive performance and handling, futuristic styling, cosseting interior and overall addictive driving experience make it a compelling choice and worth a look. You’ll need to decide if it’s enough to justify its nearly six figure price tag.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $91,815
Price as Tested: $95,270
Engine-Transmission: 550-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: 15/20/17 – MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The Velar is too expensive for crash tests, and neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has tested the car. However, an extensive array of available safety features are likely to keep all occupants safe.

Where Built: Solihull, United Kingdom

Competes With:
BMW X3 M Competition
Mercedes Benz AMG GLC 63
Porsche Macan Turbo

Fab Features:
Powerful engine
Elegant cabin
Refined ride and handling