The 2018 Range Rover Velar is gorgeous but doesn't offer much bang for your buck

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The 2018 Range Rover Velar is gorgeous but doesn't offer much bang for your buck

  • The Range Rover Velar looks fantastic and feels like a true luxury vehicle.
  • Still, the SUV's high price tag and limited interior space may be dealbreakers for some buyers.
  • Optioned right, it's a great vehicle. But if you're looking for value in equipment and space per dollar, you're better off with something else.
The 2018 Range Rover Velar
Mack Hogan | CNBC
The 2018 Range Rover Velar

The name "Velar" probably doesn't mean much to you, but the Velar is a new midsize model in Land Rover's premium sub brand, Range Rover, that you should know about.

As we've come to expect from a Range Rover, the Velar high on style and high in price. If you're looking for the best bargain in the luxury SUV market, look elsewhere. If you want a stylish crossover that'll fit in among the elites, this is probably your jam.

The Good

The 2018 Range Rover Velar
Mack Hogan | CNBC
The 2018 Range Rover Velar

With black accents and a deep, gorgeous coat of Firenze Red paint, the first pro I noticed about the Velar R-Dynamic P250 in my driveway is that it looked the business. Priced at $74,895, the Velar wouldn't look out of place in a lot of cars costing double that.

If you're afraid of looking poor, the Velar is the antidote. The illusion won't fade when passengers make it inside, as the interior is positively lovely. Leather quality is top notch, switches are high quality and almost every surface is well-appointed.

The Velar also has Land Rover's next generation infotainment suite on board, with a double touch-screen setup. The top screen does the heavy lifting, with navigation and music mainly controlled through that. Below is best suited to climate, seat heating and terrain response settings.

The infotainment system has two screens.
Mack Hogan | CNBC
The infotainment system has two screens.

Land Rover isn't the first company to try a dual screen setup, but the Velar's is more clever than any other one I've used. The bottom screen is just as responsive, but it also has three knobs integrated into the display that change roles depending on what's on screen.

That means, with only three knobs, you can physically control seat heating, cooling, cabin temperature, fan speed, seat massaging, volume and more. It's a fantastic approach, and I hope other automakers adopt the practice.

Finally, the ride in the Velar is terrific. Our tester didn't have the optional air suspension, but from my throne it was hard to see why you'd need it. Fantastic, massaging seats and good-tuned conventional suspension seems to do the trick.

The Bad

Inside the Range Rover Velar
Mack Hogan | CNBC
Inside the Range Rover Velar

Unfortunately, things aren't as comfortable in the other seats. I'm not a large man — my 5' 6" build is not useful for testing out interior room — but my normal-sized friends did mention the lack of space. Part of this is perception. The Velar spans the same length as the Mercedes GLE, but the front leg room is on a par with smaller SUVs such as the BMW X3. It wasn't severely uncomfortable, but it never felt as big as its footprint would suggest.

The P250 model packs 247 horsepower, but it's simply not enough to move the Velar with the grace and poise you'd expect from a luxury vehicle. It has to work hard to prod the beast into motion, and you can feel that from the driver's seat.

The side windows fog up terribly but a fix is coming.
Mack Hogan | CNBC
The side windows fog up terribly but a fix is coming.

Our Velar also suffered from a window defogger issue. Even on full blast, the SUV was incapable of keeping it's side windows fog-free. The electrically heated front windshield was fine, but at points the driver and passenger windows froze over and visibility fell to zero. Land Rover PR says that the company is aware of this issue — dozens of forum posts can be found online — and it's issuing a fix that should remedy the problem. It isn't a deal-breaker just make sure if you get one you have the service bulletin performed.

Finally, the value proposition isn't great. The Range Rover brand is premium — you're paying more because almost everything you touch is bespoke or borrowed from the big daddy, proper Range Rover. If you appreciate the finer points of the well-crafted interior and the fantastic styling, it's an option, but value-first customers should look elsewhere.

The features you should add

You'll pay more for the fancy colors, but it's worth it.
Mack Hogan | CNBC
You'll pay more for the fancy colors, but it's worth it.

Start with the P380 R-Dynamic SE model, which gets you the fantastic styling touches of the sport trim and the higher-output motor. At this point, you're already $69,600 in. Gulp.

Range Rover also makes some of the best premium paints in the business. Factor in $610 for a second-tier color like my tester's Firenze Red. If you want the full-premium splash, it's $1,525 for one of the three fanciest colors, but we can't recommend that when the mid-tier paint is this good. A blackout roof, like on this tester, adds $410.

I love this color
Mack Hogan | CNBC
I love this color

$820 gets you heated and cooled front seats with memory. The massage seats are a bit too rich for my blood. The 1600-watt, 23-speaker Meridian audio system is available for $3,000. It's a tough swallow, but Land Rover's Meridian systems might just be the best audio systems in the car world. If you can stretch the budget, it'll blow your mind.

We're almost there. $820 for a surround camera system is a must with this car's limited rear visability. $255 gets you some configurable ambient interior lighting and $1,495 buys you Land Rover's suite of active safety features including automatic emergency braking and radar cruise control.

Add in destination charge, and you're looking at $74,800. That's steep for a midsize luxury SUV.

Final Thoughts

The 2018 Range Rover Velar
Mack Hogan | CNBC
The 2018 Range Rover Velar

Equipped right, the Velar rides like a bespoke luxury vehicle. It definitely looks the part.

The supercharged V6 gives it the might to back up its athletic stance, a feature that I didn't have in my tester that you should definitely add.

Sitting inside, you'll never doubt that this is a high-caliber vehicle. It's a premium experience, but it comes with a similarly premium price. If you value equipment and space, walk away. If you want style and bone-deep luxury, the Velar makes a compelling case.

Rating:

Exterior: 5

Interior: 3.5

Driving Experience: 3.5

Value: 2.5

Overall: 3.5

Price as configured: $74,895