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
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970
2023 Land Rover Defender 130
A Better Option For Large Families With An Eye For Adventure
It’s not a stretch to say that the newest Land Rover Defender is the best Defender ever. But, Land Rover has a different kind of stretch in mind for their latest Defender, the kind that enables you to bring more people along for the ride. So, join us for an adventure in the new Defender 130.
No doubt this latest 2nd generation Land Rover Defender is more refined than ever; but for 2023, it’s also bigger than ever with a new Defender 130. Working with the same 119-inch wheelbase as the 5-door 110, there’s more than 13-inches of overall length added, and to be honest, stretching strictly the rear body like that does make it look a little awkward, but certainly no less ruggedly appealing.
For now, buyers can choose between 1 of 2 turbocharged inline 6-cylinder options, the base 296-horsepower P300, and our mild hybrid P400 with 395-horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque. A 493-horsepower P500 supercharged V8 will be available in ‘24.
Regardless of which route you take, there’s more than enough grunt to move this longer 130, which is heavier than the 110 by only a couple of hundred pounds. Power delivery is smooth and steady, aided by the mild-hybrid system which is primarily in place for stop/start, but can add a little extra oomph at launch to cancel turbo lag.
But it’s really all about adding more space inside; so, a 3rd row is standard, featuring belts for 3, providing seating for a total of 8 passengers relatively comfortably. There’s more cargo space. Behind that 40/20/40 3 rd row, 13.7 cubic-ft, up from 10.5 on the 110. Behind the 2nd row, 43.5. While all seats down yields 80.9 cubic-ft.
Of course, one thing that doesn’t change no matter how much it has grown is off-road ability. And indeed, like every other Land Rover, it’s so capable that it’s mostly boring in rugged terrain situations, as the only hard work comes in selecting the proper terrain response mode; the Defender takes it from there.
We felt much more involved at our Mason Dixon test track where the 130 left the line more in a smooth and steady fashion than overly aggressive, but power built rapidly as we got moving, hitting 60 in 6.3-seconds. The engine whines more than growls, but the 8-speed automatic transmission keeps things right in the heart of the power band with timely and smooth shifts. ¼-mile completed in 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour. On the braking end, there was a soft pedal and a good bit of nosedive, but a very solid overall feel and short stops from 60 of just 115-feet.
The standard air suspension delivers a ride that’s more firm than floaty, but when it comes to handling, it felt a little lethargic through our cone course, with nowhere near the amount of precision we experienced over on the Range Rover side. Though steering was quick and light, and there’s wasn’t too much body roll, but that’s mostly because we had to keep speeds very low to prevent stability control systems from shutting down our efforts.
The 130’s interior environment and seat comfort, however, are not far off the Range Rover’s luxury experience. Even if you opt for the synthetic leather, now available across the Defender line, for those wanting to avoid true cow hide. The 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen mounted in front of the dash looks fantastic, but it’s still not the greatest to use, with very small print and lots of menu diving that requires much attention to navigate. There’s also new 4-zone climate control, along with plenty of storage nooks for all seating positions.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined. We averaged 19.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Still, it’s just slightly below average on Energy Impact Score, burning through 15.7-barrels of oil yearly with 7.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
With numerous trim levels and multiple powertrain options, there are an enormous number of Defenders to choose from. Just know the 130 starts at $70,575 and tops out with the V8 at $118,075.
Bigger isn’t always better, but if you’ve got a large family full of adventure seekers, the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 is clearly a better option for spending some quality time well off the beaten path. And it’s not too big as a daily driver either. The 130 truly does deliver more, and does it without compromise.
- Engine: 3.0-liter I-6 Turbo
- Torque: 406 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined
- Horsepower: 395
- 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 19.7 MPG (Premium)