2018 Range Rover Velar
When Jaguar entered the SUV world with the F-PACE, we raved about the excellence of their mostly ground up design. After all, they could have simply rebadged a ute from their cousin Land Rover. Now, as it turns out, it’s Land Rover doing some reverse engineering, with a new SUV based on the F-PACE, the Range Rover Velar.
If you’re not a Land Rover enthusiast, you might wonder where this 2018 Range Rover Velar fits in. Well, it’s a true midsize entry, slotting in between the larger Range Rover Sport and compact Evoque.
Engine choices are in step with the Jaguar F-Pace; 2.0-liter turbo-4s, one diesel one petrol, and a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that rates 380-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque. All work with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.
But lest you think this is simply old-school badge engineering, know that Land Rover engineers did indeed start with the bare bones of the F-Pace, including maintaining its 113–inch wheelbase. But from there, they created an all-new Range Rover.
And certainly a high-fashion one. With no obvious resemblance to the F-Pace; just plenty of styling cues from other Land Rovers; with a floating roof design, some snazzy fender trim, and pop out door handles thrown in for good measure. All standing on up to 22-inch wheels.
More emphasis was put on off-road performance as well. So, in addition to standard all-wheel-drive, the Velar is available with Terrain Response 2, and gets an electronic air suspension setup not obtainable on the F-Pace, at least for now anyway. And, it’s not just pretty, with a towing capacity of 5,500-lbs.
Admittedly, handling prowess has been lost in the process, as the Velar doesn’t feel quite as light on its feet as the F-Pace, but ride quality is truly sublime.
Dialing up Dynamic mode helps it feel it’s sportiest, and owners can dial in their own customized setup.
Maintaining their superior off-road image is vital to Land Rover, and the Velar is truly more capable than most will ever experience. It also feels rock solid with its aluminum monocoque chassis construction. There’s no ability to engage a low range; but the full suite of electronic aids specific for the trail, have the ability to send full power to whichever wheel is getting the most traction, getting you through just about anything you might encounter.
Of course you’re well-swaddled in Range Rover luxury while doing that, including numerous leather packages, and supremely comfortable seats. It’s a gorgeous look.
This is certainly not your father’s Land Rover, unless he had his own proprietary touch panel control system installed. Here it’s Land Rover’s new InControl Touch Pro Duo with twin 10-inch capacitive touchscreens.
With few traditional physical controls, it can be intimidating when you first hop in, but it’s a mostly-logical setup that doesn’t take too long to get comfortable with.
Rear seat passengers don’t miss out on the luxury treatment either, and space is among best in class.
As is cargo room, 34.4 cubic-ft. behind the 2nd row, 70.1 with the 40/20/40 split seatbacks folded flat.
All of that makes this Range Rover as functional as it is beautiful.
As for track work, our supercharged V6 Velar hopped off the line eagerly with good all-wheel-drive grip. The rear really squats down as you take off, hitting 60 in 5.5-seconds.
And right away, you realize Jaguar kept all of the cool exhaust notes for themselves, as here you just get some droning engine noise. Shifts are quick and smooth however, taking you through the ¼-mile in 14.0-seconds flat at a nice even 100 miles-per-hour.
It was a difficult task determining what exactly its capabilities are in the handling department. The chassis feels proficient enough, but as soon as there’s even a hint of understeer, the “safety at all costs” computer initiates “priority slow down procedures” and starts triggering the brakes.
It does exhibit only minor body roll throughout the cones however, with medium to light steering.
And just 102-feet is all it took to bring this thing to a halt from 60. Some nose dive is to be expected bringing 4,471-lbs. to a complete stop that quickly, but even that was relatively minor.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the V6 are 18-City, 24-Highway, and 20-Combined. We averaged a fine 21.7 miles-per-gallon on the required Premium. That makes for an Energy Impact Score slightly below the average for all cars, with annual oil consumption of 16.5-barrels and CO2 emissions of 7.3 tons.
A wide range for this Rover has prices starting at just $50,895, and stretching to at least $78,095 for an R-Dynamic HSE V6; our tester was closer to $90,000. Yikes!
Still, if you’re like us, your first response to the middle-weight 2018 Range Rover Velar may be “just what we needed, another luxury SUV”. But, Land Rover has been building posh off-roaders for longer than anybody, so it’s always good to see what they’re up to next. Now it’s up to the rest of the segment to see if they can keep up with the Velar.
- Engine: 3.0 liter
- Horsepower: 380
- Torque: 332 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.0 seconds @100 mph
- EPA: 18 mpg city / 24 mpg highway,
- Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 7.3 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis Waves Their Magic EV Wand Yet Again
The Genesis Electrified GV70 is not only the 3rd all-electric vehicle offering from Hyundai’s luxury division, but it’s also the first Genesis model to be built here in the US. You know, the GV70 was already a big hit with both critics and buyers, so let’s find out if a big pack of batteries and American workers can take it to the next level.
For the 2023 model year, the Genesis GV70 utility has gone electric. And like the Electrified G80 sedan before it, Genesis has integrated an all-electric drivetrain into its existing platform seamlessly and effectively.
Now, it may look almost exactly like the sleek and sophisticated internal combustion powered GV70 SUV that arrived just last year. But packed underneath it all, is the GV60’s next-gen propulsion system that uses a pair of electric motors delivering standard all-wheel drive and 429-horsepower. Both the front and rear-mounted electric motors are 160-kW and produce a combined 516 lb-ft. of torque, relying on energy from a 77.4-kWh battery. Full 350-kW charging capability will get the battery to 80% in just 18-minutes. The Electrified GV70 is rated to travel 236-miles between those charging sessions.
But based on our driving loop, we’d say more is easily possible as we were on pace for over 250-miles; making it an overachiever, much like the G80.
The approach to the interior is not so much a heavy-handed blast of over-the-top luxury, rather just a soothing blend of high-quality metal and leather materials with soft tones, subtle ambient light, and an airy feel that ultimately delivers a very comforting experience.
There’s an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen that houses standard navigation, and it also has a rotary style control on the console if you prefer that, just don’t confuse it with the rotary gear selector like we did. Lexicon audio, quilted leather, and a suede headliner come with the Prestige package that also includes active noise control and white brake calipers.
Regen braking paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel allow for adjusting amounts of regen up to full 1-pedal driving; or you can let Smart Regen take control, gathering data from past driving history, navigation, and road conditions to determine the appropriate amount of braking. Drive modes include Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Custom, and Genesis has added some additional sound deadening for this EV.
Based on the incredibly quiet, smooth, and steady highway ride we experienced, we weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled this GV70 up to the line at our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
Well, not much calmness or serenity here, as this thing absolutely blasted off the line like a rocket, hitting 60 in just 3.9-seconds. That’s almost a full 2-seconds quicker than last year’s 2.5-liter turbo-equipped GV70. It’s hard to beat performance-tuned EVs when it comes to torque delivery, and like the GV60, there’s a boost button on the steering wheel that delivers an additional 54-horsepower for a thrilling 10-seconds, helping us clear the ¼ in 12.4-seconds at 112 miles-per-hour.
The low center of gravity, an electronically controlled suspension, and a Disconnector Actuator System that allows for 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive operation depending on circumstances, helped keep the Electrified GV70 well-planted through our handling course, and provided a livelier feel than the ICE version.
Substantial side bolstering of the front seats kept us settled in place very nicely. Great steering feel, very little body roll, and only minor amounts of understeer at its limits. Brakes were equally as sporting, with good feedback and stability, despite the noticeable nosedive that typically accompanies stopping 5,000-lbs. of utility vehicle in just 111-feet, 6-feet shorter than the standard GV70.
There are some subtle changes outside for this Electrified version of the GV70; it gets unique 20-inch wheels, and as in the G80, the signature crest grille gets an aerodynamic makeover, nicely integrating the charging port. Same 2-line lighting theme up front, and in back, where the rear bumper is reshaped now that there are no tailpipes. Cargo area is well finished with thoughtful use of space; at 28.7 cubic-ft. with a max of 56.5, capacity is down a tiny bit, but a small storage bin up front under the hood more than makes up for it.
At 37-kWh/100 miles, the Electrified GV70 rates a good efficiency score. Pricing starts at $66,975, about 20-grand over a base ICE GV70, and 3-years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations is included.
Genesis is slowly but surely electrifying their lineup, and the 2023 Electrified GV70 is not just another step in the process, but further proof that carmakers can progress to EVs without upsetting the entire apple cart of their brand. Forward thinking but staying classy, just what we’ve come to expect from Genesis.
- Motor Setup: Dual 160-kW Motors
- Horsepower: 429
- 0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
- MW Range: ~254 miles
- Battery Size: 77.4-kWh
- Torque: 516 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.4-seconds at 112 mph
- EPA Range: 234 miles
- Efficiency: 37 kWh/ 100 miles