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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.



2018 Land Rover Range Rover Review

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Review
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The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover is the pinnacle of SUVs.

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover may be the definition of capability. It’s cool, calm, collected, and composed on any sort of terrain—from rocky trails to curvy canyons. The Range Rover is one of our highest-rated vehicles at 8.6 out of 10 overall. 

With a nameplate dating back nearly 50 years, the 2018 Range Rover is something of a legend in its own time. Even the least expensive base short-wheelbase Range Rover will leave few wanting for more. The lineup climbs fast from there through HSE, Supercharged, Autobiography, and finally SV Autobiography Dynamic with increasing levels of opulence.

This year, the 2018 Range Rover lineup discards most hard buttons and knobs in favor of a pair of touchscreens. The screens are flashy tech not without their flaws, but they make even the most highly outfitted Range Rover feel worth its $200,000 price tag. Additionally, new front and rear seats offer more adjustment and an available massaging function. You’ll have to line up the 2018 with last year’s model to see the exterior differences, but revised LED headlights point the way forward.

Though the Range Rover name is now on several vehicles—the style-oriented Evoque and the family-ready Velar and Sport—the flagship needs no additional nomenclature.

A plug-in hybrid is due next year, but until then the lineup includes two V-6 engines—one gas and one diesel—plus a V-8 offered in two states of tune. For most drivers, the standard supercharged, gas-fueled 3.0-liter V-6 will be more than adequate. The optional turbodiesel boasts an impressive 24 mpg combined and is our favorite engine for most uses, but the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8s rated between 510 and 557 horsepower make for hedonistic grin-inducing choices.

All Range Rovers include standard full-time four-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic. A sophisticated traction and stability control system features modes tailored for a variety of on- and off-road use, plus a handy automatic mode that takes the guesswork out. With its height-adjustable, air-sprung suspension, the 2018 Range Rover is supremely capable off-road. What’s most impressive is that it out-handles many sports sedans on pavement, even in its most basic configuration. In normal use, the Range Rover is characteristically languid in its composure. It seems as if nothing short of the pockmarked pavement of a warzone will disturb its occupants, and even then the insulated glass and extensive sound-deadening will keep the outside world, well, outside.  

The classically styled Range Rover pampers at every level, but Autobiography trims are especially comfortable with their quilted semi-aniline leather trim, rear-seat tables, dual refrigerators, and 1,700-watt Meridian audio system.

On all, a redesigned rear seating area provides exceptional comfort for outboard passengers this year, especially in long-wheelbase models that add an extra 7.3 inches of stretch-out space.

There’s plenty of room for customization when it comes to the Range Rover’s options, interior and exterior hues, and engine choices.

Its exterior may not be as daring as some of its rivals, but the 2018 Range Rover is truly decadent inside.

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover honors its blocky past but looks forward. It may not be an instant classic like the Range Rovers that preceded it, but the 2018 Range Rover easily earns a 9 out of 10 with two points above average for a sublime, tech-laden interior. 

The Range Rover is available in two wheelbases, with the longer of the two adding about 7.3 inches to the rear seat. To our eyes, the trim proportions of the standard-wheelbase model give it a more balanced look, but the long-wheelbase variant is far more capacious inside. This year, new LED headlights up front highlight the changes—literally.

Chunky, conservative lines give the Range Rover massive presence. Years ago, the brand discarded its muddy boots looks in favor of streamlined precision, although classic cues like a clamshell-style hood and an airy greenhouse remain.

Inside, new 10.0-inch touchscreen displays take up residence on the dashboard. The upper unit functions like a conventional infotainment system, while the lower features configurable screens to operate the climate control and available heated/cooled under most circumstances or a host of other functions like traction control modes at the swipe of a finger.

Base and HSE variants of the Range Rover pamper with their classy leather upholstery, while Autobiography trim levels layer on softer leather and exotic wood finishes on every surface including the headliner.

We’re partial to the Range Rover’s optional turbodiesel V-6, but there’s a version bound to please everyone here.

Perhaps no vehicle is as versatile as the 2018 Range Rover. It shines on and off the road, and its broad portfolio of engines range from strong and efficient to astoundingly powerful and thirsty. We give it a 9 out of 10 on account of its excellent ride, its engine lineup, its slick-shifting automatic transmission, and off-road chops not diluted by on-road tenacity.

Restricted to only the short-wheelbase model is a supercharged gasoline V-6 rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It’s hardly an anchor of a motor, though, and is more than sufficient for nearly any kind of driving. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with an impressive 443 lb-ft is optional and a worthwhile upgrade with its strong torque curve and its smooth, docile demeanor. Both 6-cylinder engines pair well to their fast-shifting 8-speed automatic transmissions and they almost make the optional V-8s feel unnecessary. But not quite. The 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 standard on the Supercharged and Autobiography trim levels cranks out a hefty 510 hp and enables these big brutes to sprint to 60 mph from a stop in just over 6 seconds.

Topping the lineup, the SVAutobiography Dynamic ups that to 550 hp, as it should for $200,000. That extra power is matched to a sport-tuned chassis that makes the most of the Range Rover’s air suspension.
Regardless of trim, the Range Rover’s steering is precise and quick with a more direct, accurate feel than we’ve seen in many luxury sedans let SUVs that approach three tons with a load of passengers aboard. The height-adjustable suspension drops down for easy access and rises to the occasion for up to 12.2 inches of ground clearance for serious off-road use. The Range Rover’s air suspension is taut, but not punishing on rough roads. Off-road, it softens up to allow for 10.2 inches of wheel travel up front and more than a foot at the rear axle.

Though few owners will venture down the road less traveled, the Range Rover makes a willing, immensely capable companion limited by its driver’s courage more than anything else. The standard full-time four-wheel-drive system apportions power with a 50/50 front/rear split under normal circumstances. Optional on some models is a locking rear differential for maximum traction that helps out the Terrain Response system with up to six off-road modes. An automatic mode works as advertised by taking the guesswork out of off-roading. Only street-oriented tires prevent the Range Rover from keeping up with the most capable off-roaders.

Comfort & Quality
If anything, the Range Rover inspires other luxurious modes of transport like international first class air travel.

Palatial isn’t a term we throw at just any SUV, but few meet that descriptor as well as the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover. This big off-roader offers exceptional comfort and fine accommodations for everyone and easily earns its 10 out of 10 here.

Front seat passengers have seats that adjust in every direction and offer a new massaging function for 2018. Reshaped rear seats this year deliver power backrest adjustment on every trim level and the option of full adjustment with heating, cooling, and massaging as the price climbs rapidly. Extended-wheelbase variants rectify the only thing close to a complaint we can offer about the standard 2018 Range Rover: its relatively tight legroom. The long-wheelbase variant adds 7.3 inches exactly where it’s needed: in rear-seat stretch-out space. Autobiography variants offer an Executive Seating package with even more comfort with rear seats that recline 40 degrees at the tap of a button, eight-way adjustable headrests, and even a smartphone app that lets passengers adjust seat and climate settings without taking their eyes off of their devices.

Though the cargo compartment is draped in thick carpeting, it’s not as capacious as the Range Rover’s exterior dimensions might suggest. There’s no third-row here (that’s left to the more family-oriented Range Rover Sport). Cargo capacity behind the rear seat stands at 31.8 cubic feet for base and HSE models and just 24.5 cubes for models with the Executive Seating package. Fold the rear seat and those figures balloon to as high as 75.6 cubic feet for long-wheelbase models regardless of rear-seating arrangement.

At last, cans of Coke can be made comfortable too: The 2018 Range Rover offers a refrigerated center console as an option on some trim levels.

Every Range Rover trim level is beautifully wrought. The more you spend, the better it gets. Base models have leather and glossy wood; the hides get softer with HSEs, while Autobiography and SVAutobiography variants wrap almost every surface with semi-aniline leather.

On all, a pair of 10.0-inch touchscreens replace nearly all conventional controls for audio, climate, and vehicle functions. There’s a learning curve involved, but we’ve found the screens to respond quickly to on-the-go swipes and taps. Our only caveat is that they can be too bright at night.

Nearly 50 exterior paint hues are available and Land Rover drapes the interior in enough hues that the only way you’re likely to find two matching Range Rovers is to order them that way yourself. And order you’ll probably have to do, since there’s often a waiting list at Land Rover dealers.

Although no crash-testing has been performed, the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover lacks little in terms of safety tech.

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover hasn’t been subjected to federal or independent crash-testing, and it’s not likely that it will be any time soon. This basic design debuted in 2013, but it’s hardly short on safety tech.

As a result, we can’t assign it a score here.

However, the Range Rover’s stiff structure and its high level of standard safety gear are good news. Extensive aircraft-grade aluminum sections glued and riveted together add strength, while standard full-time four-wheel drive is confidence-inspiring. Left in automatic mode, the Terrain Response system uses various sensors to predict surface grip before the vehicle encounters slippery terrain.

All versions of the 2018 Range Rover include automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, parking sensors, and a rearview camera. Adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors are fitted to HSE and higher trim levels.

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover is fluent in luxury.

At these prices, the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover should pamper. It does all that and more, at every level. Even top-of-the-line versions that crest $200,000 manage to feel special and worth the hefty cost of entry.

The 2018 Range Rover earns points for its high level of standard equipment, its near-infinite customizability, its impressive infotainment system, and its decadent options that include one of the most luxurious back seats available in any form of transportation.

It’s easiest to split the Range Rover lineup into two styles: short- and long-wheelbase variants. Short-wheelbase models are offered in base, HSE, Autobiography, and SVAutobiography trims and run the gamut underhood with available gas or turbodiesel V-6s and V-8s ranging from 518 to 557 horsepower. Long-wheelbase models are positioned even higher on the luxury scale and are available only with V-8s in both Autobiography grades.

Base models come well-outfitted with two 10.0-inch touchscreens for infotainment and vehicle controls, leather seats, a 380-watt Meridian audio system, and a host of safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings.

The HSE adds larger wheels, softer leather, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, and a surround-view camera, while the Supercharged builds in a V-8 engine and a few more goodies. A handful of packages restructured for the 2018 model year for both base and HSE trims pile on goodies like a rear-seat entertainment system, head-up display, and active lane control. They’re easy enough to sort through but can escalate the bottom line quickly; it’s not hard to add $15,000 to the price of a Range Rover HSE.

There’s little missing from a Range Rover HSE, but where the lineup pulls away from rivals like the Cadillac Escalade and Lexus LX 570 is in the Autobiography variants. There, you’ll find semi-aniline leather on nearly every surface, a 1,700-watt Meridian audio system, and dozens of paint colors that can run up a tab of almost $15,000 on their own. The SVAutobiography builds on that with more underhood muscle and a retuned suspension. Few individual options are available on either Autobiography, but with all the paint, upholstery, and interior trim finish options available, it’s wise to spend some time placing your order.

Regardless of trim level, all Range Rovers include a two-hour off-road lesson from one of the automaker’s driving school instructors.

InControl Touch Pro
New this year on all Range Rovers are a pair of touchscreens for infotainment and most vehicle functions. Only a handful of conventional buttons and knobs remain for things like the window controls and the hazard lights. The upper screen handles most audio and navigation functions and pairs quickly to a user’s cellphone for Bluetooth—but note that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are surprising omissions at this price point. Land Rover’s infotainment system responds quickly and its maps feature convenient pinch-and-scroll functionality, but the ease of Apple and Google mapping is left for other brands.

The lower screen defaults to climate controls unless a user specifies otherwise. Swiping across the screen pulls up vehicle functions like the traction control system’s various off-road modes. Overall, it’s as eye-catching as it is intuitive, although there’s some acclimation required.

Fuel Economy
At up to 24 mpg combined, the Range Rover’s available turbodiesel is a surprisingly low-guilt option.

It’s just as possible to buy a gas-guzzling 2018 Land Rover Range Rover as it is one that sips diesel. Overall, the lineup earns a commendable 5 out of 10.

That figure is based on the supercharged V-6 that earns a decent 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined.

The available turbodiesel V-6 isn’t as popular with buyers, and we’re not sure why. Its 22/28/24 mpg isn’t far off of V-6 sedans.

Predictably, V-8s use a lot of premium fuel: 16/21/18 mpg at best; the long wheelbase SVAutobiography won't be in an Earth Day parade at 13/19/15 mpg.

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