Engine choices include a 247-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 380-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6, or a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard.
The V6 provides the sort of power you'd expect of a Range Rover, with the transmission providing quick, unobtrusive shifts, even in manual mode. Thankfully, the transmission holds each gear rather than downshifting for better fuel economy. The tested V6 had the optional air suspension, which provides up to 9.9 inches of ground clearance and 25.4 inches of water-fording capability. As you might expect, the comfort drive mode suits the Velar, with its magic carpet ride and modest side-to-side motions, although it's far from excessive. Choosing dynamic mode instead adjusts everything for on-road fun, with quicker steering and a firmer ride with noticeable jiggling.
Both four-cylinder engines had a coil suspension, which feels less plush and assured on pockmarked, crowned roads. Yet once it sets in a corner, this setup proves as stable as the air suspension. The turbo four feels potent, yet turbo lag is evident when driven with enthusiasm. The diesel seems more even-tempered, with a smooth, quiet, yet powerful demeanor and little if any noise or vibration.
Venturing off-road proves the Velar to be as capable and refined as any Range Rover, although its steering lacked any sense of feel. Its impeccable off-road comfort keeps passengers protected from the shock of rocky trails as torque vectoring and traction control manage torque distribution to suit the terrain and conditions.
And it was blessedly quiet, which made it perfect for listening to the incredible Meridian sound system.
Despite its desirable design and up-to-date technology, the Range Rover Velar proves that its beauty and sophistication doesn't make it any less capable than other Land Rovers or Range Rovers. Best of all, the Velar's base price starts just below that of a top-of-the-line Evoque, making this an affordable modernist luxury, which is more than I can say of a Noguchi coffee table.
And it looks incredible in front of your midcentury modern home.
Base prices: $49,900-$89,300
Engine: Supercharged 3.0-liter V6; turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (gas, diesel)