2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Review
The Evoque makes the Range Rover brand more attainable, but does so at a price.
- Carlike ride
- Peppy new engine
- Attractive looks
- Not as luxurious as other Range Rovers
- Higher price than many rivals
- Little cargo space for the class
To those in the know, there is a real difference between a Land Rover and a Range Rover. Land Rovers are utilitarian off-road machines; they're British Jeeps with a touch of luxury. Range Rovers, on the other hand, are luxurious SUV fortresses. They're the Rolls-Royces of the SUV world.
So when Land Rover announced it would market its new Evoque crossover as a Range Rover, it begged the question: Would the Evoque deliver everything buyers expect in a Range Rover?
The answer is yes. The Evoque brings style, diversity and capability to a class that is filled with styleless boxes. However, the Evoque also brings with it Range Rover's lofty prices, as you'll see.
The 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque comes in two body styles — a 2-door coupe and 4-door wagon — and three trim levels. The wagon is offered in $43,995 Pure Plus, $47,995 Pure Premium, $51,495 Dynamic Premium and $52,395 Prestige Premium trim levels, while the coupe is available in all but the Prestige Premium trim with prices ranging from $44,995 to $52,895.
The Pure Plus has a generous equipment list, including leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and starting, universal garage-door opener, rearview camera, configurable ambient lighting, Bluetooth cellphone link and streaming audio, 11-speaker Meridian AM/FM/CD audio system, two USB ports and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The Pure Premium adds adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams, 5-camera surround-camera system, 17-speaker Meridian audio system, and a hard-drive-based navigation system. The coupe version also adds blind-spot monitoring. The Dynamic Premium gets aluminum pedals and various bits of exterior trim, while the Prestige Premium adds Oxford leather upholstery and higher-end interior trim.
Standard safety equipment includes dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control with Trailer Stability Assist and Roll Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Gradient Release Control, and front and rear park assist.
Under the Hood
The Evoque comes with only one engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder sourced from Ford. In the Evoque, it makes 240 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. The lone transmission is a 6-speed automatic with manual shift capability. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates are 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
The Evoque comes standard with all-wheel drive that can constantly change the front/rear torque split depending on traction. It also has Land Rover's Terrain Response system that interacts with the engine, transmission, center coupling, brakes and stability control systems to help the vehicle through various types of terrain. For example, the throttle becomes more aggressive and the transmission holds gears longer in Sand mode, while those systems are dulled in Grass-Gravel-Snow.
Range Rover buyers expect a certain level of luxury and the Evoque delivers. Well, almost. The Evoque does feature quality materials in an attractive layout, but they're not all premium. The dashboard, door panels and armrests are all rich and soft to the touch, but everything from the glove box down is hard plastic. It's not unexpected in this class, but it's less than Range Rover owners have come to expect.
The interior layout is quite effective, though. The center console is angled up toward the center stack, which makes the controls easy to reach. Unlike past Land Rovers, the icons on the buttons are easily identifiable for an American audience. Buyers will just have to learn what the little pictures on the Terrain Response system mean.
The controls are fairly intuitive, which is a step forward for Land Rover. The climate controls are self-explanatory, the rotating gearshift is rather simple, and there are a couple of 5-way controllers on the steering wheel to handle the radio and trip computer. Digging into the controls on the touch screen will take some time to master, though.
Space for four adults is quite good, and a fifth will fit in a pinch. The front seats are supportive during aggressive cornering and they offer plenty of room. Without a third-row seat to worry about, Land Rover moved the rear seat back far enough to make passengers quite comfortable, even in the coupe.
The Evoque falls down in terms of cargo space, though. With the rear seat up, there is about 20 cubic feet of space behind them, which is less than most competitors. The rear seat folds 60/40, but in the interest of comfort it is too contoured to fold flat. With the rear seat down the coupe has 47.6 cubic feet of space and the wagon has 51 cubic feet, only slightly more room than the notoriously tiny Infiniti EX35. By comparison, the BMW X3 has 56.6 cubic feet of cargo room and the Audi Q5 has 57.3.
On the Road
The Evoque is nothing like any other Land Rover. It is smaller, lighter and far more carlike than any of its heavy, trucklike linemates. In fact, it feels more like a Volvo than a Land Rover. That's not a knock or a surprise, as the platform is based on a Volvo design.
On the road, the Evoque sits lower than any other Land Rover, offering a stable, planted ride and nimble moves. It changes direction willingly and leans far less in turns than its siblings. The steering is fairly quick and nicely weighted, and the brakes are strong, but pedal travel is a bit too long. The suspension, while firm, does a fine job of soaking up most bumps, but sharp ruts can pound through.
That's all pretty impressive when you also consider the vehicle's considerable off-road prowess. The Evoque's Terrain Response system has settings for Mud-Ruts, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Sand, and General Driving. When equipped with the optional MagnaRide suspension, there is also a Dynamic mode that firms up the shocks in corners to further reduce body lean.
With its off-roading systems and generous approach and departure angles, the Evoque can handle anything the everyday driver might throw at it, as well as tackle surfaces most competitors can't. Still, it won't perform like an LR4 or even a Range Rover because it lacks low-range gearing and locking axles.
The release of the Evoque marks the debut of a new engine: Ford's EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. In the Evoque, it is optimized to seal out water and keep the engine oiled at extreme off-roading angles.
The 2.0-liter turbo is a peppy, willing engine that offers good power off the line, with plenty in reserve for passing on two-lane roads. Zero to 60 mph comes in a quick 7.1 seconds. We detected no turbo lag and found that it worked well with the responsive transmission, whether shifting automatically or through the standard steering-wheel paddles.
We like this engine and look forward to its use in Ford products, but there are far more powerful options from various rivals. Notable among them is the BMW X3's turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine, which makes 300 horsepower and scoots from zero to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. Some traditional Land Rover buyers may also miss the typical V8 rumble and find the 4-cylinder's buzzier sound unsophisticated.
Right for You?
The Evoque will appeal as a lower-cost alternative for folks who always wanted a Range Rover but couldn't afford the high cost of entry. It will also work as a daily commuter for buyers interested in luxury compact SUVs such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX or Volvo XC60. The Evoque is priced higher than most of those vehicles but it offers more off-road ability.
(As part of an automaker-sponsored press event, Land Rover provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitate this report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.