Land Rover is on a mission to stack its lineup of upscale crossovers and SUVs with a model for anyone who cares to look good while looking like they intend to get dirty. Their latest effort to that end is the Velar, an all-new model that slots in between the entry-level compact Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.
The Velar name seems an oddball choice but it actually has long roots in Land Rover's history, being the latin for veil or cover and the name the brand used on prototypes in the 1960s to hide their true identities. Now, Land Rover is being quite open about having styled the Velar to bridge the gap between those two current models while being easily recognizable as a Land Rover.
Slick styling certainly makes the Velar look upscale, even if we're still not entirely used to the brand's recent trend toward visually eliminating anything that looks like a traditional bumper.
As a bridge model, the Range Rover Velar also splits the difference between the Evoque and Rover Sport by starting out with a four-cylinder diesel engine (the Evoque uses a four-cylinder gasser) and moving up to the same supercharged V6 that powers some Range Rover Sport models.
The diesel is a 2.0L turbocharged engine that makes 180 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, while the V6 is good for 380 hp and 332 lb-ft. The Velar may look like it was designed for paved roads (and if we're being honest, it was, mostly) but expect it excel off-road too: Both engines come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, 4WD and a terrain response system that allows the driver to tailor the drivetrain's performance to a variety of road and weather conditions, and an optional air suspension allows a 46-mm bump in ride height for off-road situations. A locking rear differential is also available in V6 models.
For days when you stick to paved surfaces, Land Rover says the Velar's V6 will scoot this crossover from 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds to a limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Other functional abilities include a 2,500-kg tow rating for V6 models, and an advanced tow assist function. Like a similar system offered in the Ford F-150 pickup, Land Rover's high-tech solution lets the driver "steer" using the infotainment controller while the car worries about carrying out whatever steering inputs are needed to put the trailer where it needs to go.
Land Rover calls the Velar's interior a calming sanctuary. If sustainability is a concern of yours, the manufacturer hopes it will calm you to know you can upholster the cabin in a premium woolen fabric that's available as an option to leather.
Inside, Velar debuts Land Rover's InControl TouchPro Duo dual-screen infotainment system, which puts one 10-inch touch-sensitive display in the dash for navigation and media functions and a second in the console that's used for the terrain response system and climate controls.
Velar seats five in a wheelbase that, predictably, splits the difference between that of the Evoque and Range Rover Sport, as does a cargo area that measures 558 litres but can be expanded by folding the 40/20/40 rear seat.
Velar trim levels include S (diesel or V6), SE (V6), Dynamic SE and HSE (diesel or V6) and a First Edition trim limited to 50 units in Canada and powered by the V6.