It's no secret that Land Rovers have a bad reputation for reliability. Automobile Magazine's past experiences unfortunately bear witness to this. Our last Four Seasons Land Rover, a 2005 LR3, lit up its instrument panel like a Christmas tree and needed no fewer than seven warranty repairs. A more recent test of the 2009 Jaguar XF (Jaguar is Land Rover's sister brand) likewise involved many frustrating days at the dealer. You can't blame us then, for being wary of the Range Rover Evoque even as we've heaped praise upon its styling, refinement, and performance.
Through eight months, the Evoque has never seen a tow truck or a pair of jumper cables.
"From day one, the only thing standing between me and an extremely high recommendation for this car has been the question of reliability," says associate web editor Donny Nordlicht.
Three quarters of the way through our test, we're starting to get answers to this question. They're mostly encouraging but not definitive. Through eight months, the Evoque has never seen a tow truck or a pair of jumper cables. It did, however, make an unscheduled visit to the dealer after multiple editors reported a low-coolant message.
"The 'Service Required' light appeared in the instrument cluster, followed by a giant red warning triangle and 'Low Coolant' appearing on the instrument panel," says associate web editor Jake Holmes, the first to notice the issue. "I stopped the engine and peered under the hood. The coolant tank was filled to the 'Min' line."
The dealer replaced the sensor in about an hour, which seems to have solved the issue.
We've also had good, but not perfect, luck with the interior, where the materials and controls show little evidence of more than 20,000 hard miles.
"I'm impressed with the way the cabin has held up," says managing editor Amy Skogstrom. "The first time I drove the Evoque, I was leery about the oddly textured material that covers the dash, but it still looks new and apparently cleans up better than I originally predicted."
We did, however, start hearing a persistent squeak when opening and closing the front-passenger door. The dealer resolved that issue rather simply, by tightening one of the door-hinge bolts. Somewhat more concerning is the touchscreen infotainment system, which has never won a lot of love from our editors but seems to have grown arthritic as of late.
"Is this infotainment unit built on a Windows 95 operating system? Because it seems to be getting slower with every passing minute," complains senior editor Eric Tingwall.
Ever the handyman, Tingwall dug through the system settings and shut off several graphically demanding but unnecessary functions, like a pop-up volume indicator. "It appears I've wrested some control back from the system," he says.
Tingwall and others also note a slight degradation in the Evoque's ride and handling, but they blame it on the combination of our recently fitted Pirelli Scorpion winter tires and unseasonably warm weather. "They tires tend to wander when the steering wheel is straight and are slow to respond when you first turn-in," Tingwall says. Still, we wonder if the magnetorheological dampers offered on higher-trim-level Evoques might afford a better ride, both now and as the miles accumulate.
If all this sounds to you like a rather unremarkable list of quality issues, you're right. That's very good news for Land Rover. Of course, the Evoque still has four long winter months ahead of it. We'll let you know how it finishes out its term.