Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
This past weekend was dreary and besieged by rainfall in the Maryland metro area but it didn’t matter because my window of opportunity with the luxuriant Land Rover came to fruition and rightfully heated up the scenario. Active as usual, my daughter had two sports tournaments that were an hour away — basketball and competitive jump rope — so instead of chilling while watching Jack Taylor on Netflix I was ripping runways escorting her about and exploring the impressive features of Terrain Response 2 and its Configurable Dynamics and six adaptive suspension modes in our Firenze Red 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE.
Trust me, when you are blessed with the keys to the R-Dynamic you won’t mind accruing miles hours at a time. Aesthetically, the Firenze Red hue comingled brilliantly with the 20” 7-spoke rims finished in gloss black and tucked in Pirelli Scorpion Verde all season 255/50 R20 tires. The sidewalls are tall enough to soak up bumps in city roads as I experienced in Baltimore but also very grippy for dry road traction where this tire line excels the most. Further enhancement manifested from the R-Dynamic Black Exterior Package which blacks out the grille, chin spoiler, side blades, mirror caps, rear lower bumper and hood vents. The performance-oriented tailgate spoiler, wide dual exhaust tips, tow hitch receiver for loading our Thule rack for mountain biking, contrasting black panoramic sunroof and flush deployable door handles were additional exterior elements that elevated the Rover’s offerings.
The nucleus of the $78,095 (with destination fee) Velar R-Dynamic HSE is a 380-horsepower 3-liter supercharged V6 that also distributes 332 lb-ft of torque between 3,500-5,000 rpms. It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with satin chrome gearshift paddles mounted directly on the leather wrapped steering wheel. Expect 20 combined city/hwy mpg. Ideally, I would like a bit more mileage out of each tank of fuel. Nevertheless, the ride was superb due to an electronic air suspension, permanent AWD and electric power assisted steering. Depending on the environment or your mood you can choose how you would like the vehicle to react. For example, if the Velar is set in Dynamic mode, the shifter put in Sport and the paddles are utilized for shifting then you can have one of your most memorable drive experiences as I did. Or if you choose to take the bikes out on the trails and it is wet then switch the system to Mud/Ruts. The other modes of choice are Eco, Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow and Sand.
Before initially entering the vehicle’s cabin Aya was ecstatic over the Land Rover vehicle logo that glowed on the ground as she opened the door. Branding is everything! The Light Oyster / Ebony Windsor leather interior was a breath of fresh air and commingled with the human focused technologies such as the Touch Pro Duo multimedia system with two separate 10” capacitive touchscreens, navigation and InControl Apps. The top screen is embedded within the dash and tilts out when the Range Rover is ignited. It focuses on the mapping and infotainment features including Bluetooth, Meridian Signature surround sound system with metal grilles, 360 Parking Aid and Park Assist while the angled lower screen operates the Terrain Response 2, four-zone climate control with cabin air ionization, vehicle settings and the impressive 20-way power, heated/cooled seats. They also massage which Aya loved after a long day of physical activity. Though, I had trouble connecting my phone via either USB and Bluetooth for music playback.
Ambient lighting, brushed metal door panels, metal pedals, ebony black headliner and enlarged metal door handles complete the orchestrated cockpit. Lastly, the Interactive Driver Display screen over the steering wheel allows the driver to toggle through various views including full screen map display and an off-road view. The left pod on the steering wheel is used like a remote control for these settings and the right pod adjusts Adaptive Cruise Control with Intelligent Emergency Braking, heated steering wheel on/off and Lane Keep Assist which I kept off because it’s a bit too aggressive.
Intelligent, exhilarating and accommodating are the words that come to mind after a full week test driving this enthusiastic, British SUV. Pricing may be steep for some to stomach, however the 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE offers all the performance needed for well-off customers looking for excitement in addition to utility behind the wheel.