The Range Rover Evoque is by definition a surprising vehicle: who could have expected such a sultry, sleek vehicle from rugged, no-nonsense Land Rover? That said, our first few months with our Four Seasons Evoque have been less about shock and more about meeting our (mostly high) expectations. "I spent a week with the Evoque and, surprise, surprise, I quite liked it," reports deputy editor Joe DeMatio after his first turn with the car. "The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is pretty much amazing, which is what I remember from driving an Evoque at high speeds last October during our Automobile of the Year testing, where Range Rover snagged an All-Star award."
We have been particularly impressed by the fact that our Evoque maintains Range Rover's high interior standards at its lower ...
Here are a few more not-so-surprising early impressions:
"Surprise" number one: It's hard to see out the Evoque's narrow back window.
"The rear window is quite small, which means the rearview mirror doesn't reflect as much of what's going on behind you as you might like," notes managing editor Amy Skogstrom, joining a chorus of voices. Strangely, however, no one seems all that concerned about it.
"I love this car's rear window," exclaims road test editor Chris Nelson. "Visibility isn't good, I admit, but its shape and size remind me of a five-window Ford coupe."
This concession in the name of style is made easier by the optional surround-view cameras and the giant glass roof, which brightens what might otherwise feel like a cave of a cabin. Land Rover also attempted to compensate for the obstructed view with oversized sideview mirrors, but some feel they hurt more than they help.
"The mirror housings are so big that they cause sizable blind spots at the A-pillars," asserts Skogstrom. Others have noted that they're responsible for a higher-than-expected level of wind noise at high speeds.
"Surprise" number two: The interior is lovely.
Land Rover's expertise in the area of interior design is hardly breaking news, but we have been particularly impressed by the fact that our Evoque maintains these high standards at a lower price point. The car's artfully crafted, well-assembled cabin presents an instant and lasting impression of richness that exceeds its relatively accessible price.
"Considering how nice this Pure model is for $49,635, I have trouble coming up with a list of extras that would justify the $10,000-plus premium for a higher trim level," says associate web editor Donny Nordlicht.
That said, one of those extras, a leather-wrapped dash, is already high on Skogstrom's list: "I'm not a big fan of the pebbly, rubber-like material that covers the dash and doorsills of this Evoque. It reminds me of a wetsuit." We'll be curious to see if we can keep the grippy black material clean over the course of the year.
Our Evoque also has the optional seventeen-speaker Meridian audio system that came as part of the Premium Xenon package. "It's unbelievably crisp and clear," notes associate web editor Ben Timmins. "I put on the new Kendrick Lamar/Dr. Dre song -- streamed via Bluetooth audio, which isn't the highest fidelity setup -- and it sounded like Dr. Dre was riding shotgun, talking to me about how great the women are in California."
"Surprise" number three: The electronics are quirky.
Land Rover, like many British automakers, has a reputation for electrical gremlins. Associate web editor Jake Holmes discovered one in our Evoque when the car failed to recognize the key fob in his pocket.
"I got out, locked the car with the remote, unlocked with the remote, and the Evoque started normally," he reports. Jaguar says any keyless ignition system can be thrown off by interference from cells phones or physical barriers if you should drop the key fob in a cupholder or the like.
Skogstrom experienced a slightly more concerning issue with Land Rover's trademark rotary shifter.
"The transmission dial got 'stuck' two times during my week with the Evoque. Both times I had braked to a stop. One time I wanted to switch to Reverse, and the other I just wanted to put the transmission in Park, but both times the gear selector would not rotate to the left. I thought perhaps the transmission wasn't recognizing that my foot was on the brake, so I purposely lifted off the brake and then depressed it again, but no go. So I turned the ignition off, which automatically puts the transmission in Park, and when I restarted the vehicle the gear selector worked OK both times."
Only time -- and a visit to a dealership -- will tell if these minor annoyances are just that or whether they foretell of bigger headaches to come.
"Surprise" number four: It's beautiful.
"The exterior design is gorgeous," says Nordlicht, concurring with just about every other staff member, passenger, and bystander who's gotten a glance at our Fuji white stunner.
"My neighbor started to pull into his driveway, took one look at the Evoque, and nearly stopped his car, craning his neck at least 90 degrees to get a look at it. It's good to know he's as impressed with the styling as we are."
Update: After consulting with Jaguar/Land Rover we’ve determined our issue with the shifter results from a peculiarity of its design rather than an electronic or mechanical flaw. Specifically, although the rotary dial must be pressed down to shift from Drive into Sport mode, it need not to be pressed down to rotate into any other gear, and -- here's the key -- must not be pressed down when trying to shift from Drive into Reverse or Park.