Strengths and weaknesses:
- cargo space
- user friendly controls
- tight rear seat legroom
- prefers premium gas
Evoque stirs emotions with stylish classic look
The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is the crossover that just could change your mind about Land Rover. It sure has changed mine.
There’s always been something I haven’t liked about Range Rovers - whether it’s the driving position, cabin ergonomics or looks - and I’ve always been wary of Land Rover products because they continuously rate at or near the bottom of reliability surveys.It’s too early to tell if Evoque, the first new Range Rover since India’s Tata Motors took over ownership in March, 2008, will solve the reliability issue, but there isn’t anything I don’t like about this new vehicle.
Because of my bias I avoided driving the Evoque at the Canadian Car of the Year competition because I didn’t think it had a chance of winning. And while it lost out to the VW Tiguan TDI clean diesel for best New CUV/SUV from $35,000-$60,000, it has racked up some impressive awards since then including North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend’s 2012 SUV of the Year.
And there’s no other way to put it: I’m absolutely blown away by how good it is.
The Evoque four-door is available in three trim levels from $46,995-$60,495. (There’s also a “coupe” starting at $52,995.) Our tester is the base model, called “Pure” that closely resembles the Land Rover LRX concept vehicle first shown at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
For the money, it’s loaded with features such as anti-lock brakes, roll stability control, keyless entry and push button start, electric power steering, seven airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control and automatic Halogen headlamps. Canadians will appreciate standard cold weather features such as heated windshield, steering wheel, front seats and windshield wiper jets.
I think our test Evoque looks great in Fuji White, which, along with Buckingham Blue metallic, is the only colour that doesn’t cost an extra $975.
Only one powertrain is available in Canada - a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with six-speed automatic - and all Evoques sold here have full time intelligent all-wheel drive. The engine is Ford’s excellent Duratec “four” with EcoBoost and pumps out 240 hp and 250 lb.-ft. of torque - almost identical numbers to those of the new BMW X1.
The acceleration numbers are similar too. In testing by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, Evoque was just a few ticks behind the Bimmer, sprinting 0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds and powering past slower traffic in 5.9 seconds from 80-120 km/h.
The lightweight Evoque, which makes extensive use of aluminum and composite plastics, also handles nicely for a tall vehicle thanks to its new MagneRide adaptive damping system that controls pitch and roll.
Like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover has decided to reinvent the traditional gear shift lever. But unlike the Germans, the Brits have made it easier. You just dial a gear from a big round knob on the centre console.
Although it departs from the traditional body-on-frame construction, Evoque is a formidable off-road performer and utilizes Land Rover’s unique Terrain Response System where you select the appropriate setting for the surface you’re negotiating - asphalt, grass / gravel, snow / mud & ruts / sand.
Despite class-leading ground clearance, cabin access is easy and running boards aren’t needed.
Perched high in the driver’s seat, you get a commanding view of the road in all directions and the ergonomics are great. I love the large round tach and speedometer, the big knobs that let you adjust the climate control system even while wearing mitts, and the touch-screen controls for phone and the 11-speaker audio system. Also appreciated is that the driver - not the car - decides when to switch off heat to the steering wheel.
The curvy 2003 Nissan Murano proved that utility vehicles don’t have to be boxy and boring. The slippery Evoque has taken that idea one step farther with one of the most refreshing new shapes to grace our roads in many years.