By on August 17, 2017

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar - Image: Land RoverIt’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief.

2017 is a year of significant transition for the Land Rover, as the LR4 is replaced by the Discovery and the Velar steps in to fill a gap on the dance floor between the Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and Discovery, hoping to avoid stepping on any toes. The sales picture is consequently not particularly rosy. In the U.S., Land Rover volume is down 2 percent this year following 2016’s record performance.

But the brand’s momentum is obvious. Year-to-date, sales of the Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover are all rising. Collectively, the quartet is up 11 percent in a market that has slowed in seven consecutive months.2017 Land Rover Range Rover - Image: Land RoverMoreover, the high-end Range Rover portion of the Land Rover brand accounts for three-quarters of the brand’s sales. And the best-selling member of the three-engined Range Rover lineup? Not the diesel, not the supercharged V6, but the supercharged V8 that commands a $18,245 premium over base Range Rovers.

Those who doubt Land Rover’s ability to squeeze a model into a gap need look no further than the Range Rover Evoque. Less spacious than the Discovery Sport but significantly more costly, Land Rover USA has reported 68,160 Evoque sales since 2011. Even in old age, there’s a chance 2017 will be its best year ever.

Reach further back to 2005 and remember how odd it seemed that Land Rover would bring the Range Rover brand downmarket with an LR3-based Range Rover Sport.

The Range Rover Sport is Land Rover USA’s best-selling model.

Now it’s the Range Rover Velar’s turn to prove that Land Rover can succeed when it does as it pleases. If the Range Rover Sport was originally intended to be the road-focused Land Rover, the Range Rover Velar has usurped control of that position.

Following the Velar, it will be the Defender’s turn to once again exert’s Land Rover’s historic off-road proposition. But that hardly sounds as though that will be the end. McGovern sees Land Rover as two families: Range Rover and Discovery. “For me, a family is more than two and with Discovery we’ve only got two vehicles,” McGovern says, “so there are a lot of opportunities.”

Velar. Defender. Another member of the Disco tribe. And beyond?

“There’s a lot of talk that in 25 years kids won’t have a desire to drive a car, that people won’t own cars any more,” McGovern says. “Nobody is talking much about the fact that people have a visceral desire to own vehicles that they enjoy and that resonate on an emotional level.”

McGovern, who previously worked at Chrysler, Peugeot, and Lincoln-Mercury, believes design will set Land Rover apart. “Design is the glue.”

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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8 Comments on “Land Rover Will Stick an SUV in Whatever Part of Its Lineup It Wants and Price It Based on “Personality”...”

  • avatar

    I’d like to replace my LR3, but unless Land Rover hurries up and comes up with a Land Rover that’s shaped like a Land Rover, they’re going to miss out on my business.

  • avatar

    Hmm. I just now learned the Discovery Sport wasn’t just a Saab 9-5 Wagon. And then I noticed it’s the only vehicle in the lineup without fully blacked-out pillars. And what happened to the LR naming system? I don’t miss it — names are better — but they keep jumping around. I guess “Freelander” won’t be coming back.

    The people who make these marketing decisions must really know what they’re doing, because the current lineup looks like lunacy to me. I can squint at the site and see the same sausage in three sizes, plus two colors. The conspicuous consumption pecking order must be far more subtle than I ever imagined.

    I’m pretty psyched about the Defender, though. At least something will be unique.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    how was the LR3 ownership experience?I’ve been looking at CPO Discov Sports to replace our premium octane gas guzzling but otherwise perfect 08 Ml 350

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t had anything too bizarre happen with my LR3. (I will admit to having owned not one but two Saabs, so my tolerance for counterintuitive engineering and indifferent build quality may be outside the norm.)

      Plan on replacing the fluids, especially in the transfer case, early and often.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I sure like the Range Rover Sport. I can almost muster up the will to purchase it, and then I think back to my old P38, and then it’s over.

  • avatar

    One of my colleagues actually has a Freelander, her previous ride was a Chrysler 300 SRT-8. I should ask her which one she thinks was better screwed together.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I know where that second photo is taken. A $2000/night minimum resort for celebutards and other incomprehensible 0.01 percenters in the sun-blasted hellscape that escapes the affection of even a desert-lover like me. It photos well until you drive past it on the highway and see how close it is to a poor rural hamlet and the ugly outlying houseboat storage yards for Lake Powell.

    Fitting place to photo that piece of six-figure bling.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    None for me, thanks. A woman I know had three Discos in a row. Of the three only one of them wasn’t constantly in the shop as it burned itself down to the frame in a Vancouver car park before much else could go wrong. My sister had an Autobiography that she bought used while working the night shift. It lasted a year before being resold as it was, yep, unreliable.

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