This magazine has taken a rather hard line when it comes to the subset of premium crossovers best identified as "swoopy sporty things." We gave lukewarm reviews to our departed Four Seasons Infiniti EX35 and Acura ZDX, despite their strong driving dynamics and solid reliability, because we simply could not figure out what purpose they served better than existing alternatives. The promise of a sporty car, an SUV, and a luxury sedan wrapped into one vehicle seems to add up to poor headroom and a higher price than you'd pay for an equivalent car or crossover.
All of this raises the question of why we'd consider repeating this exercise with yet another "swoopy sporty thing," the Range Rover Evoque. In fact, there are several reasons. First, the Evoque differs from most performance crossovers in that it's relatively small and fuel efficient, as evidenced by its 28 mpg EPA rating on the highway. That size also makes it easy and engaging to drive, a quality enhanced by lovely, perfectly weighted steering and excellent body control. Finally, the Evoque brings off-road pedigree and prowess fitting its Land Rover badge (see Ezra Dyer's water-logged first drive for proof).
The most compelling factor in the new Range Rover's favor, though, is that it's so cool. The Evoque is blessed with the sort of charisma that makes you overlook practical concerns -- like seeing out the back -- and just plain want it. We liked the Evoque enough to include it in our 2012 All Stars, our annual list of vehicles we'd put in our dream garage.
And now we have one in our real garage. Our Fuji white four-door Evoque comes, as do all Evoques, with all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 240 hp. It also has a raft of standard electronic driving aids, including roll stability control, hill descent control, and -- thank goodness -- a backup camera. The interior is executed with Range Rover's typical expertise and taste, and includes leather seats, an eight-inch color touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, and an iPod connector. Not bad for a base price of $41,995. To that, we added the $5890 premium Xenon package, which includes HID headlamps plus navigation, passive entry, a seventeen-speaker sound system, and surround-view cameras (normally, this package includes automatic high beams, but ours does not and thus saves $110). Thinking ahead to next winter, we got the climate comfort pack for its heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated washer fluid, and heated windshield.
We'll be curious to see if the Evoque can sustain its 1000-watt charm over a year of family vacations, carpool duty, grocery runs, and camping trips. We also hope Land Rover has conquered its historical build-quality bugaboos -- but will be sure to tell you if it hasn't.
|Pure Premium Xenon package||$5,890||Keyless entry Surround camera system HDD navigation w/voice control 17-speaker Meridian audio system 10-disc CD hard drive Adaptive Xenon headlights LED signature lights Cargo storage rails|
|Climate Comfort package||$1,000||Heated front seats, steering wheel, windshield, and washer nozzles|
|SiriusXM satellite radio and HD radio||$750|