- I drove a $US94,655 Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, a midsize, high-performance, off-road-ready luxury SUV.
- The Velar nameplate is relatively new for Jaguar Land Rover and the Range Rover brand.
- The Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is going up against SUVs from Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Alfa Romeo.
- I was completely blown away by the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition’s combination of performance, style, and versatility.
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I’m not sure I’ve found a Range Rover I don’t like.
So the question then becomes, as I march though the carmaker’s lineup, “Can I find a Range Rover that’s overpriced?” I mean, c’mon! Give me something to complain about.
In that context, I could complain about the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, which is almost $US50,000 more expensive than the base Velar. It’s a midsize SUV, after all! How could one Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition be worth two of the base vehicle?
For good reason, as it turns out.
Read on to find out why the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is as good as it looks:
The 2020 Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography “Dynamic Edition” arrived wearing a truly stunning “Firenze Red” paint job.
The Velar nameplate is relatively new for Range Rover, part of the India-owned Jaguar Land Rover conglomerate. Velars are midsize SUVs that hit the road in 2018.
The Velar is to Range Rover what the I-PACE is to Jaguar. The sleek lines, floating roof, and notable but hardly extreme rear overhang are a departure from the boxiness of past Ranges.
This is an undeniably good-looking SUV. The proportions are perfect, the sense of power and style palpable. But unlike, say, a Jeep vehicle or even some SUVs that bear the Land Rover moniker, the Velar’s mojo is restrained.
Just have a gander at the balance of the fascia for proof. The undulating, blacked-out grille, the bold scoops, the headlights — it all works together to exude grace, power, and purpose. The lamps are LEDs with LED running lights.
Range Rover is basically a sub-brand of Land Rover, and its role is be overtly luxurious.
But it still functions as a Land Rover brand, so it has to have fairly robust off-road capability — even if its target customers are less likely to test those capabilities.
The Velar is mercifully free of exterior bling, but there is some.
For the most part, it’s low-key and tasteful, and it adds to the Velar’s aesthetic rather than detracts from it.
A feature that also adds to the Velar’s sleekness is the recessed, self-presenting door handles.
They extend when the vehicle is unlocked.
I’m on the fence here. While they look cool, it’s slightly annoying to have to wait for them or engage them whenever you want to get into the Velar.
My tester had an attractive set of 21-inch alloy wheels.
And a set of high-performance brakes to control the Velar’s bulk, which is considerable at around 4,500 pounds. The Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition can tow a respectable 5,000 pounds.
With its floating, sloped roofline and integrated spoiler, the Velar creates a cool trick: the rear actually comes off as refined, not like a box with a barn door.
The Range Rover nameplate is echoed at the rear.
“Velar” means “veiled” — but this SUV isn’t really hiding anything. (Decades ago, when the name was used for top-secret protoypes, it was.)
The SVAutobiography trim is the highest level available. My test vehicle started at $US91,000 for this configuration, with just a few grand in extras and a destination and delivery charge taking the sticker to $US95,000.
The quad tailpipes are a clue that this Velar might have something special under the hood.
The back of the Velar is almost intimidating!
The powered hatch raises to reveal 34 cubic feet of cargo space.
That’s excellent — the Velar handled everything I threw at it over a week. Drop the rear seats and the cargo area expands to 60 cubic feet.
The cargo area has a power supply.
And the Velar has a spare “tyre” stashed under the floor of the cargo space.
Now for what we’ve all been waiting for! The Range Rover Velar SV Autobiography Dynamic’s engine!
In a world a magnificent V8s — a shrinking world, sad to say — the 5.0-litre, 550-horsepower motor that propels the Velar SVAutobiography is a stunner. I know, it doesn’t look like much. But it delivers. The power is sent to the all-wheel-drive system through a fantastic eight-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is predictably poor, but that’s the trade-off for the power: 15 mpg city/20 highway/17 combined.
The interior is subdued but oh-so lovely and carefully appointed. The “Ebony” tone is rich, and the heated/cooled front seats are exceptionally comfortable.
That comfort is picked up in the back seats.
Legroom is good, if not great. This is a midsize SUV, after all.
I was able to stretch out.
And passengers in back have their own climate controls.
The dual-pane moonroof fills the otherwise dark interior with light.
The overall level of fit, finish, and detail is what makes this low-key interior so appealing. JLR has really concentrated on getting every single detail just right.
The driver enjoys a high position, but the Velar can be raised and lowered on its suspension depending on drive mode and terrain demands (the vehicle can wade through two feet of water, for example).
The analogue-digital instrument cluster has a centre screen that can be customised.
The steering wheel is heated …
… And the transmission offers a manual function, with paddle shifters …
… Flanking the steering column.
One complaint: the start-stop button is rather tucked away behind the wheel, on the edge of the dashboard.
The gearshift knob rises from the centre console — a small pool of piano black — when the engine is fired up. It’s extremely easy to use.
So much good stuff! Now for the not so good. The Velar’s 10-inch touchscreen runs JLR’s infotainment system, which in the past we’ve found to be glitchy.
This time around, all I had trouble with was voice-recognition for the navigation feature. So that’s it for the bad! Kudos to JLR for improving the setup.
The system used a tiled display that’s fairly intuitive. Bluetooth-pairing is easy, there are USB ports for device connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available.
You swipe through the apps.
The rest of the Velar’s functions use a second touchscreen, and it can be a tad confusing at first. The two big knobs perform multiple functions.
Whenever you switch menus, that feature takes over. Seats, for instance. This is where you control heating and massage functions.
This is what the AC/heating climate controls look like.
And this is how you adjust the drive modes, which range from fuel-saving Eco to a cluster of off-road choices.
You have to love an SUV that treats driving in sand differently from tackling “mud-rutts.”
You can also switch off the auto start-stop, as well as tweak the exhaust note.
The Dynamic mode enables a lot of customisation for driving style and preference.
The 825-watt Meridian premium audio system sounds phenomenal.
So what’s the verdict?
It didn’t take me long to fall for the Velar in a big way. How long? Well, Mr. 5.0-Litre, 550-Horsepower, Supercharged V8, meet Mr. Highway On-Ramp. Roar! Whoosh! Growl.
This engine is so viscerally satisfying that while the Velar might come with other options – lower trim levels have a four-cylinder and a pair of V6s available – you gotta ask yourself, “Why?” This SUV’s heart is a beefy V8, and it wants to wear that heart on its gorgeous sleeve.
The Velar already had a lot going for it, from its elegant exterior to its suave, beautifully fitted insides. But the V8 puts it over the top.
Way over, in fact. I had the Velar back-to-back with a Lamborghini Huracán Evo Spyder in my test-vehicle progression, and I’m here to tell you that I wanted for little after I returned the Lambo and focused on the Range Rover.
The full-on SVAutobiography Dynamic option, as concocted by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit, means that this Range is going after the Porsche Macan (and even sort of the Cayenne), the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, the BMW X5 M, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It certainly holds its own.
And in some ways, the Velar really is a proper, downsized version of the Range Rover SVAutobiography, its $US200,000-plus full-size counterpart. I, at no point, felt as though I were piloting a midsize SUV – that massive engine subdued any smallness in the SUV. The solidity of the vehicle also made for an impeccable merger of freeway cruising a twisty-road cornering.
I didn’t explore the Velar’s off-road capabilities, but they are many: hill-launch assist, low-traction launch, hill-descent control, all-terrain progress control, and dynamic terrain adaptation. These accompany a passel of driver-assist features, including adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, lane-keep, and a rear-traffic monitor.
What you get with the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic is a potent backwoods chariot that can also dash from 0-60 mph in about four seconds and, despite its heft, gobble up curves with composure. Conjoined with the beauty of the machine, it all made me think that while $US95,000 is a lot, it isn’t that much – not when you’re getting so much SUV.
The 2020 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition has achieved something special in the age of the luxury sport ute: it can reasonably claim to do it all. And look glorious the whole time.