The Range Rover Velar and Mazda CX-90 Fought Over My Heart, a Quirky Nissan Won

This past week’s top picks from my little corner were, without a shadow of a doubt, the enhanced Range Rover Velar, the all-new, first-ever Mazda CX-90, and an open-top from Nissan!
Range Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choice 8 photos
Photo: Land Rover / Mazda / Nissan
Range Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choiceRange Rover Velar & Mazda CX-90 & Nissan Max-Out weekly choice
We have grown used to seeing lots of critical novelties regularly fly across the imaginative realm of the automotive industry. But the first weeks of the new year were rather plain, boring, and virtually uninteresting if not for the C8 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray introduction with eAWD as the daily-driver alternative (even during inclement weather) to the bonkers FPC (flat plane crankshaft) V8 Corvette Z06.

Now, as we have just passed into February, things are starting to shape up a little better. As if automakers just got out of their (fat) Christmas belly and into the Super Bowl LVII (Philadelphia Eagles go head-to-head with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, with a scheduled kickoff time at 4:30 p.m. MST – aka UTC-7) mood. Alternatively, maybe they see a rosier life as Valentine’s Day is approaching fast.

Whatever the cause, I am glad no less than three vehicle models were vying for my heart over the past week. First up, in no particular order, was the refreshed 2024 Land Rover Range Rover Velar. The sleeker brother to the Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and the traditional Range Rover has been in production since 2017, and the luxury crossover SUV is showing no signs of trying to switch generations. Well, that is not necessarily the most dreadful thing ever, if you ask me.

For starters, I used to love the classic Range Rover more than anything else from Land Rover - although sales might point toward the reinvented Defender being the hottest commodity from the British carmaker over the past few quarters. But then the Brits presented their take on the BMW X6 lifestyle and since they were fashionably late at the coupe-SUV party they also nailed the best interpretation of the niche design to date – if my two cents are allowed on the matter.

Back to the 2024 Range Rover Velar, it was equally fashionable with an exclusive reveal on TikTok – which I didn’t see because I’m old and decrepit in terms of social media exposure and I don’t have TikTok (wink, wink). Anyway, the company is hitting all the sweet spots, complete with the same “modernist” design (now a bit enhanced), fresh technology goodies (such as the reimagined touch interface for the cabin, over-the-air software updates, etc.), and MSRP of $61,500 in the United States – which makes it a cheaper grab than the $83k Range Rover Sport and a bargain when compared to the $106,500 Range Rover.

Range Rover Velar & Mazda CX\-90 & Nissan Max\-Out weekly choice
Photo: Land Rover / Mazda
I would have easily chosen the Velar as my favorite pick of the past week if not for a Japanese crossover, though. After an extensively fatiguing teaser campaign (it even had a fake release that was just the start of the unboxed series), the 2024 Mazda CX-90 finally premiered online and the three-row SUV perched on top of the CX-60 platform does not seem to have any hidden flaws, so far. It is, as the moniker implies, the company’s new North American flagship yet it will try to blend not just the attention to detail for larger families but also Mazda’s well-known focus on the driver experience.

The e-Skyactiv G 3.3-liter inline-six turbo engine with 340 hp and M-Hybrid Boost is a good start but if the price is right, I would trade the higher elegance of more cylinders for the efficiency of the e-Skyactiv PHEV powertrain (2.5-liter inline-four, one electric motor hooked to a 17.8 kWh battery system) in a heartbeat. Besides, I would not lose too many ponies as the CX-90 PHEV also gets 323 ponies to play with.

Unfortunately, there is one thing they did not mention, and that makes me wonder if they are holding out for a positive surprise or just because it’s a rather shameful rating – that would be range in EV mode. Oh, well, you cannot have everything, especially when a vehicle like the CX-90 is trying hard to blur the lines between mass-market offerings and premium expectations.

Anyway, in the end, my heart was stolen (this week, at least) by the ‘new’ 2023 Nissan Max-Out concept which is the Japanese automaker’s first open-top idea since the introduction of the 370Z back in 2009. Well, the R35 GT-R has been in production since late 2007, and is still going strong, so who could blame the company (aside from Renault) for being so lazy with new model introductions? We should be grateful that we got the all-new 2023 Z when they said we would, right?

And yet, I still love them for having the guts to create a real-world version of this concept that was initially presented in 2021, and purely in digital guise. Somehow, I doubt we will ever see a roadster with such a quirky appearance. But if they did put it into production, I would line up for the buy faster than my wife could close off my bank account - I almost wrote accounts, but who knows if she is watching what I write or not?!

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
Aurel Niculescu profile photo

Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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