There have been three memorable moments involving Land Rovers in my life.
The first time I saw one, an original Range Rover, all black and tinted, was in 1985, on I-94 near the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Back then, SUVs weren’t really a thing. Sure, I had seen a couple Jeep Grand Wagoneers, an International Scout, and a Suburban or two out on the road, but they were for ranchers, fishermen, and hunters. This was a statement. I thought I knew about cars, but I had never even heard of a Range Rover. It was stately. It was glamorous. It was elegant. It positively exuded status and wealth. I vowed on that day I would own one.
My second memory was the inimitable David E. Davis’ lengthy column in a mid-1990s issue of our sister magazine, Automobile. David E. had long professed his love for these iconoclastic English vehicles, looking beyond their checkered reliability into their innate essence of class and privilege. Everyone thought David E. was nuts to love Land Rovers so much. And then, one day, after his long-term Landie had defecated the Serta one too many times, David E. blew a gasket. His multipage screed listed every niggle, wiggle, whistle, rattle, claptrap, fault, error, or breakage his Land Rover had suffered—placing it in the repair shop more often than on the road. It was a stunning tirade of shock and awe, a true loss of faith. I vowed on that day I would never own one.
The third was the day Erick Ayapana, the Keeper of the Keys in the MotorTrend long-term test-vehicle domain, informed me that my upcoming yearlong vehicular relationship was to be with a Land Rover Range Rover Velar. To say I was conflicted would be an understatement.
But in the past 12 months and 25,000 miles of “ownership,” I have developed a love-love relationship with this Velar—more sleek than stately, more go-go than glamour. And most definitely reliable. David E. would never believe it.
Fast, powerful, adroit, and graceful, the Velar is a new chapter for the Land Rover franchise. Oh, sure, you can be a purist and get a Range Rover, with its bulldog stance and snobby manner. But the Velar is what the cool kids drive. I can think of no other mass-luxury brand that so equitably serves two such distinct masters.
Our Velar is a sculpture of sweeping exquisite beauty. Even though it has been on sale going on two years, our Byron Blue Velar was still receiving admiring looks from the quickly jaded denizens of coastal Los Angeles. In fact, a Velar has become one of the more frequent luxury vehicles I see in my everyday commute up the coast.
For a 4,500-pound vehicle with a 375-hp supercharged engine pulling a sub-6-second 0-60 sprint, the Velar returned a respectable 19.4 mpg in combined city/highway driving in its year of service. Nonetheless, our model’s 16.5-gallon fuel tank increased to 21.6 gallons for the 2019 model year. That’s a good thing because the 2018 model had you eyeballing the gas gauge as soon as you crested 200 miles on the trip meter. Talk about range anxiety.
What’s more, the interior is everything a Range Rover snob would ask for, anyway. Opulent leather, a sweeping dashboard and center stack, and plush leather seats make you feel like a king, or at least a baron. Best of all, the second row is as nice as the front. If you’re worried about the comfort of wee Mason and Sophia, they’ll be fine back there. The plush leather seats (which clean up easily even when ordered in Oyster) feel luxuriant. And the rear seats recline, so if Taylor is a bit of a bratty seat-kicker, those up front should be out of range of his size-5 checkerboard Vans.
Are you an audiophile? If yes, then the Velar might be the crossover for you. The 17-speaker, 825-watt Meridian stereo system is both thunderous and crisp. I’ve driven thousands of vehicles and tested thousands of their stereos, and this is in the Top 10 of all car stereos I’ve experienced.
That said, read the fine print when ordering. The options list is inscrutable. You’d think for $76,000, a Velar would come with things like lumbar support and adaptive cruise control. After all, that’s a huge leap from the $50,975 base price. But our 2018 model lacked those features. Although it appears the options list was simplified for 2019, order carefully.
Land Rovers have historically had a horrible reputation in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (evaluating problems within 90 days of ownership) and Vehicle Dependability Study (which looks back over three years of ownership). But we suffered nary a problem, aside from the occasional squeak from the sunroof tray and a minor electrical gremlin. Granted, this is a survey sample of one; your mileage may vary.
Our total expenses were a shade under 500 bucks, but only $282.79 was for a required maintenance (one oil/filter/vehicle inspection). There was a $29.99 charge to fix a tire with a nail in it and an additional very-much-worth-it $184.99 charge to upgrade the infotainment system to handle CarPlay for my iPhone. (Note: Do this, as the Land Rover infotainment system is archaic, and the mobile app is a disaster.) The Velar lineup has had three recalls since its 2018 launch—typical for a new vehicle from any brand—but our particular P380 SE R-Dynamic got away scot-free.
How does this cost compare to other luxury brands? Well, our recent long-term Jaguar F-Pace had zero maintenance costs, as it’s covered as part of the new-vehicle warranty. This is intriguing because Jaguar and Land Rover are sold under the same roof, and while Jaguar has free maintenance (likely baked into the transaction price), Land Rover only offers “pre-paid” maintenance over a set period, paid in advance by the customer as a separate transactional line item. For comparison, although a segment smaller, our Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic had two regularly scheduled visits to the dealer for two oil changes and inspections, new engine and cabin air filters, and a brake fluid flush, which came out to $1,000.43. Ouch.
Does the Velar hold its value? Does it ever. Our IntelliChoice affiliate calculated a three-years-from-new value of $56,400, which at 74 percent of its sticker price is “interestingly high,” according to our data crunchers. One caveat: As the Velar is still a newish vehicle, there’s not a lot of data to base such a projection on. But due to its popularity and relative reliability, it appears Land Rover has a winner here.
Of such excellence are memories made.
Read more about our long-term Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE:
- Update 1: Wall of Power
- Update 2: ‘Best Vehicle Evar’
- Update 3: Baby does a good, good thing
- Update 4: Playing With Eco Mode
- Update 5: No Whining in Wine Country
- Update 6: CarPlay vs. InControl
- Range Rover Velar: 7 Things to Know Before You Buy
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