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Land Rover Decides It's What's on the Inside That Counts

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With the Los Angeles Auto Show rescheduled for May before its likely cancellation, manufacturers have been issuing bundled press releases for products that presumably would have been there had society bothered to maintain a shred of normalcy. On Wednesday, Land Rover announced a series of updates for the 2021 Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar, and Discovery Sport. But improvements appear largely limited infotainment tweaks, save for the Velar’s upcoming hybrid powertrain.

North American customers may also be disappointed to learn that 2021 MY cars likely won’t arrive until after Christmas. The pandemic has placed Jaguar Land Rover behind schedule already and European officials are pushing for another extended lockdown over flu season. That’s enough for us to recommend you save any comically oversized red bows for next year because government health restrictions basically guarantee production slowdowns.

Beginning with the mechanical updates, we notice that the Range Rover Velar will be receiving a hybrid-electric powertrain based on the brand’s inline six-cylinder Ingenium engines for the 2021 model year. Though it’s technically a 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) available as 335-hp P340 and 395-hp P400 variants, we’ll see them stateside inside the Range Rover Velar S ($63,900), R-Dynamic S ($65,900), and R-Dynamic HSE ($76,900).

The MHEV system uses a belt integrated starter generator in the engine bay to harvest energy normally abandoned during deceleration. Stored energy can then be redeployed in short bursts when accelerating and help make the stop/start system a bit less obnoxious. With help from the 48-volt system, Land Rover stated the 3.0-liter P340 and P400 motors would be capable of generating 354 and 405 lb-ft of torque respectively. This effectively locks one into all-wheel drive but the manufacturer will be offering 2.0-liter (247 hp) equipped Rovers starting at $56,900.

While not much changes on the outside, the Velar’s interior now comes with the brand’s latest infotainment Pivi Pro system. The factory claimed the 10-inch touchscreen would be provided superior HD resolution, offer better app/device compatibility, and could be paired with a smartwatch that doubles as a key.

Velar also gets a new steering wheel (above) and drive selector to replace the rotary deal that nobody liked. Minus some enhanced sound dampening, the only other worthy mention is an upgraded cabin filtration system — which joins Pivi Pro as one of the few improvements we see gracing all upcoming Land Rover products.

The 2021 Evoque’s updates are probably the least exciting. In addition to the infotainment updates, the crossover also receives a dual-SIM modem which allows it to act as both a Wi-Fi hotspot and receive over-the-air updates from the home base.

While the factory said the interior has been elevated by an expanded list of material options and new features, the powertrain is limited to the same 2.0-liter available in other JLR products and familiar nine-speed automatic. But the company said that didn’t matter as it praised the crossover for basically being a phone on wheels.

“Infotainment in the Range Rover Evoque has been transformed with the introduction of our new electric vehicle architecture and Pivi infotainment,” said Alex Heslop, Director of JLR’s Electrical Engineering, stated. “The new hardware and software means Evoque is more digitally connected than ever. Our customers can now benefit from a system as responsive and easy to use as a smartphone, which actually improves over time, thanks to Software-Over-The-Air updates.”

The 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport seems to be following a nearly identical recipe. Engine options for the U.S. seem to be limited to that 2.0-liter turbo and its primary upgrades have everything to do with how well it can transmit data. However, it did get the previously optional 360-view camera, sign recognition, lane-keeping with assist, and a driver fatigue monitoring system as part of its standard safety suite.

We’re going to be honest. Unless you’re tech-obsessed, there’s really not much here to get the blood pumping for the 2021 model year. Pricing and options remain largely the same, with a few additional standard features helping to offset any increases. But none of it seems all that necessary unless you were desperate for a mild-hybrid Velar or found the Evoque’s interior color palette severely lacking. Fortunately, these remain handsomely designed automobiles in general and shouldn’t be too severely handicapped by this year’s understandably tepid improvements.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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