The niggles. Also known as the gripes. They’re the sort of small complaints that bubble to the surface at some point for every Four Seasons vehicle, even the ones we really like. That point seems to have arrived for our Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.
Simply put, it has character.
Associate web editor Jake Holmes kicks things off with the interior: “I absolutely love almost everything about the Evoque, but I’m not especially fond of the seating position. It’s awkward to begin with, and I can never get the steering wheel quite where I want it because the tilt mechanism has only a few detents.”
Other editors pick up the thread. “The interior looks great, but I’m not a fan of the angled center console,” notes managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros. “It’s too hard to reach some buttons, and the touchscreen can be difficult to see and use because of the distance from the driver’s seat.” Copy editor Rusty Blackwell adds a complaint about the aluminum dashboard trim: “It sometimes reflects an intense glare into your eyes.”
Editors are also questioning the consistency of the Evoque’s electric power steering, which impresses with its precision but can feel overboosted at certain speeds. “Overall it has good weight and feel,” says Holmes, “but I constantly feel the assist level changing, sending a twitchy and unnatural feeling through the wheel.”
Then there’s our most consistent yearlong gripe, the six-speed automatic transmission. “I still love the Evoque but am now starting to understand some of the complaints others have had about the transmission,” writes associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. “It’s often clunky on downshifts and harsh on upshifts.”
Our five-month itch was probably aggravated by the presence of a new-for-2013 BMW X1 in our short-term fleet. The Bimmer crossover visited our offices in xDrive28i form—that’s all-wheel drive with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, for those who (understandably) can’t decode BMW badges. Nordlicht, one of the Evoque’s biggest boosters, reluctantly points out the X1’s advantages:
“The X1’s silken eight-speed automatic puts the Evoque’s six-speed to shame, although I do much prefer Land Rover’s rotary shifter to BMW’s counterintuitive lever. Its seating position is lower and more sporting. And although the Evoque’s electrically assisted steering is quite good, the BMW’s hydraulic power steering is markedly better—more direct, better weighted, more communicative, and more organic feeling. Poor, poor Evoque.”
Don’t think, for all our nitpicking, that we’re ready to quit on the stylish Range Rover. Road test editor Christopher Nelson reminds us why. “Simply put, it has character. Most cars—especially crossovers—don’t have a personality. This one does. The interior is roomy, bright, sporty, and elegant. It handles well and has enjoyable steering. The turbo four-cylinder is mostly smooth and pulls hard.”
It also continues to attract a crowd. “People stare, people gawk, people chase you down to ask questions and talk your ear off about it,” reports associate web editor Evan McCausland, sharing the reaction of one particularly excited pizza-store cashier: “That’s a LAND ROVER?! Unbelievable; I mean, it looks as if it’s a concept car or something.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Evoque hasn’t shown any signs of quitting on us, either. It rolled through its first complimentary maintenance—scheduled at an unusually high 15,000 miles—requiring nothing aside from a routine oil-and-filter change. We did have to shell out $1115, though, after a rock cracked the Evoque’s heated front windshield. “Let’s not do that again,” groans Nelson.