The New York International Auto Show is traditionally the automotive industry’s last major auto show each season. Typically occurring just weeks after the design-intensive Geneva Motor Show, many carmakers – but especially the European brands – take advantage of New York to show off their latest concepts for the first time to American audiences. Land Rover is no exception, and this year’s star was undoubtedly the production-ready Range Rover Velar.
To kick off the pre-show activities, Land Rover invited media and select guests to a private Velar preview party at Lincoln Center on Tuesday evening, the 11th. Amid cocktails and hors d’ouvres, British pop singer Ellie Goulding performed an arrangement of songs before Land Rover Design Director Gerry McGovern took the stage to officially unveil the Range Rover Velar to its North American audience. Two Velar models, one standard and the other an R-Dynamic, were on the floor and open for guests to explore.
The show officially opened to the media the following morning. A pair of Velars grace the Land Rover display, along with example of each of the other model lines: Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Evoque, new Discovery and Discovery Sport. A short presentation in the afternoon by Land Rover’s North American communications director Stuart Schorr introduced the Velar to the broader media audience, but the main highlight was the announcement that the Jaguar F-Pace SUV, with which the Velar shares its basic architecture, had won World Car of the Year and also the World Car Design of the Year awards.
Around the show, other notable SUVs made their debuts as well. Last year Lincoln shocked everyone with a new Navigator concept that looked a lot like a Range Rover. The production version on display thankfully looks a lot less like the British standard.
Volkswagen’s new 7-passenger Atlas was also on the show floor. A very traditional design, it breaks no new ground and looks to be built to a very specific price point. Price, in fact, will be the main attraction for this American-built model, which lacks the “affordable but premium” feel Volkswagen was once known for. VW also showed off a long-wheelbase version of its compact Tiguan, another concession to American demands.
More interesting, perhaps, was Toyota’s FT-4X concept. Hyped as a possible new interpretation of the venerable FJ series, the FT-4X is actually far more compact and in fact draws more comparisons to the Honda Element than the hardcore FJs. The concept is certainly among the most rugged looking of any compact SUV recently, but may not have the hardware to back it up if it sees production.