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I have no idea how many Range Rover Velar owners take their lovely SUVs on an off-road adventure, even if it’s just venturing to one of our public beaches where all-wheel-drive vehicles are welcome. In Land Rover’s pricey pecking order, perhaps a few more Velars get into the wild than their bigger Range Rover siblings, but perhaps less than the brand’s upright Defender models.


Land Rover, like the Jeep franchise, stakes its brand reputation on the off-road capability of all its models and usually holds press launch events out in landscapes where rugged prowess can be demonstrated. So I was a bit surprised when I received a note from the firm’s PR agency to not take the vehicle off-roading. I hadn’t planned on traversing local water hazards, but before the memo arrived, I drove out to our sandy shore for a photo shoot. The Velar handled the duty with the proper proficiency one expects from Land Rover.


The most notable change in the new Velar is its simple center console that’s replaced audio, HVAC and other familiar controls with a floating touchscreen. Designer Gerry McGovern lifted a page from Tesla’s playbook to achieve an ultra-clean appearance. There is of course a traditional instrument cluster for the driver to glance at without glancing too far from the road as well as a gaggle of switches on the steering wheel.


On the subject of tradition, there are a handful of craftsmen who thoroughly restore elderly Land Rovers for the purists who love to manually shift a transfer case into low range then get out of the vehicle to lock the front hubs. And they can pay more than $200,000 for the privilege. But since we’re a quarter way into the 21st century, I simply reached over to the screen, selected “off-road” then “sand” and let the software do the rest. And even with its quiet and efficient road tires, the Velar seemed unstoppable.


Back on paved roads, the P400 Velar exhibited the kind of smooth, competent performance that I fondly recall from the larger Range Rover. The important basis for that feeling was Land Rover’s new 395 HP Ingenium inline six-cylinder engine that’s helped by a 48-volt mild hybrid assist. Our Velar was also lighter than most similar Land Rover four-door offerings and the combination delivered zero-to-sixty acceleration in 5.2-seconds while posting an EPA combined fuel economy of 21 MPG.


At highway speeds, the Velar feels solid and quiet. Part of that serene competence is achieved by the Active Road Noise Cancellation system that senses external frequencies and reduces them through the audio system. The other part is simply the lovely leather seating and well fitted cabin. For audio enjoyment, a 400-watt Meridian sound system was part of P400 equipment list and for those who wish more, a 750-watt system with 19-speakers is an option. As it was, our test vehicle retailed for $79,993 including freight. Initial pricing for Velar models start at $61,500 for the P250 S and it’s possible to get into the mid-eighties for a P400 HSE by checking every option box. Our test vehicle was all most buyers would reasonably wish for. Other worthy rivals include Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e and Infiniti QX60.

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