Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

The Ve­lar per­formed su­perbly on Mount Charleston’s twisty roads and cut one heck of a suavelook­ing pro­file rolling down the Las Ve­gas Strip. In­deed, the case can be made that the all-new model is the best-look­ing Range Rover in the Bri­tish brand’s sto­ried his­tory.

Un­der its sculpted clamshell hood, our test model packed a ver­sion of Jaguar Land Rover’s 3.0-liter su­per­charged six-cylin­der with 380 horse­power and 332 lb-ft of torque—plenty of smooth power for high­way blasts or a rugged Nor­we­gian get­away.

“I sus­pect the Ve­lar’s de­sign­heavy themes make it sus­pi­cious to many, but based on my ex­pe­ri­ence at the press drive in Nor­way, it holds up sur­pris­ingly well in moderately tax­ing off-road sce­nar­ios,” Wasef said.

Look­ing re­splen­dent in an el­e­gant shade called By­ron Blue on the out­side and swathed in Ebony Wind­sor leather in­side, this Ve­lar also came with

20-way heated/cooled seats, a boom­ing 1,600-watt, 23-speaker Merid­ian sound system, and a breath­tak­ingly big slid­ing panoramic roof. At $90K as equipped, that’s push­ing into ex­clu­sive ter­ri­tory, but most edi­tors felt the Ve­lar was worth the dough.

There was some push­back around ar­guably the Ve­lar’s big­gest in­te­rior ad­di­tion, its dual 10-inch high-def­i­ni­tion hap­tic touch­screen setup, which is the key point of con­tact for most ve­hi­cle func­tions, in­clud­ing nav­i­ga­tion, in­fo­tain­ment, and cli­mate con­trols. “Nice in­te­rior, but I’m not sold on the dou­ble touch­screen setup,” No­orde­loos said. “Seems very dis­tract­ing. But it all looks nice.” For­tu­nately, there are re­dun­dant steer­ing wheel con­trols and an in­stru­ment panel screen to help keep the driver’s hands and eyes where they ought to be.

If this were an­other year and there weren’t that Volvo V90 wagon on hand to draw edi­tors like a mer­maid’s siren song, the Ve­lar would have al­most cer­tainly made the All-Stars podium. Our au­to­mo­tive de­sign edi­tor summed up what many thought of it.

“This is the best SUV of those in our group: very nice in­te­rior, good ap­pear­ance, good ride, ad­e­quate power, and I imag­ine that there is no other such car with bet­ter on-road ride and han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” Cum­ber­ford said. “Off-road, it’s prob­a­bly very good, given the an­ces­try. And there is none of the tor­tured sheet­metal seen on so many SUVs.” — Ed Ta­haney

Rover Scores Big With Lat­est Suave SUV

PRICE: $78,895/$90,170 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 3.0L DOHC 24-valve su­per­charged V-6/380 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 332 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 8-speed au­to­matic LAY­OUT: 4-door, 5-pas­sen­ger, fron­tengine, AWD SUV EPA MILEAGE: 18/24 mpg...

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