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Automotive Minute: Land Rover adds new mid-size Velar SUV to its Range Rover lineup


Outside the usual auto show schedule, Land Rover has unveiled a new Range Rover model, the Velar. Positioned between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, the Velar features sophisticated styling, a focus on next-generation technology, and it is made of sustainable materials.

The Velar was designed from scratch using Jaguar Land Rover Lightweight Aluminum Architecture and uses the same frame found on the Jaguar F-Pace. The company's goal with the vehicle is to start to plug some of the holes in the Land Rover lineup, notably performance SUVs, a market Porsche and Jaguar do well in.

Less stubby than the Evoque and less block-like than the Sport, the Velar takes many of the hallmark design qualities of Land Rover vehicles and transforms them into a more shooting brake style SUV. On the outside, the car is accented by LED headlights and flush deployable door handles. Burnished Copper detailing on the hood vents, front bumper blades, and fender vents is available. The floating glass roof is a thing of beauty.

Buyers can choose from three power plants - a 247-horsepower, 2.0-liter gasoline engine; a 180-horsepower, 2.0-liter diesel engine; or a 380-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine. By 2020, Jaguar Land Rover hopes to have at least 50% of its production utilize alternative fuels so be on the lookout for a hybrid model to be available for sale in the coming model years.

The SUV comes equipped with four-wheel drive and is positioned slightly lower than other Range Rovers. An optional locking rear differential is available in the V6 model.

The Velar seats up to five people in two rows. Its rear seat features a 20/40/20 split for increased cargo carry functionality. It has just shy of 24 cubic feet of cargo space, which is less than the Volvo XC90 and more than the BMW X5.

In the Velar, Land Rover has finally given us the interior updates its SUVs have been longing for much of the past decade. As an alternative to leather, the Velar's seats are made of a 30% wool/70% polyester blend formulated by furniture fabric supplier Kvadrat. Land Rover execs say that the material is just as hardwearing and easy to clean as leather.

Each Velar comes equipped with Land Rover's new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. The system consists of twin 10-inch high definition touch screens mounted one above the other. The bottom screen features climate and off-road options, and is navigated using two knobs. The top screen is where you'll find your media, connectivity, and navigation controls. The SUV comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect to up to eight devices.

Land Rover has equipped the Velar with active and passive safety technology including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and cross-traffic detection. It also comes equipped with a 360-degree view camera and trailer-reversing assist.

When the Velar hits U.S. dealer lots, it will come in three grades. The base model starts at $49,900. If you want one of the exclusive First Edition models (only 500 will be produced), it will run you $89,300.

The Velar's driving dynamics target the BMW X5, Porsche Macan, and Audi Q5. The performance SUV segment is a category that propelled the Jaguar division to big profits in 2016. Land Rover hopes for similar results with the Velar.

With its price and styling, Land Rover is putting other luxury performance SUVs on notice, and hoping that a younger audience begins to pay more attention to what Land Rover offers. The Range Rover Velar will go on sale in the U.S. later this year.