Through nine months, our Range Rover Evoque has smashed the stereotypes that people associate with Land Rover. It doesn't look like an old-fashioned Land Rover, doesn't drive like an old-fashioned Land Rover, and doesn't suck gasoline like an old-fashioned Land Rover. Heck, it doesn't even spend lots of time in the shop. Although, as we've accumulated miles through this winter's dose of ice, snow, and wind, we've found one stereotype that still holds true: it'll go anywhere.
"The Evoque tracks through the worst snow like a guided missile," reports Jean Jennings. Our much-traveled editor-in-chief decided at the last minute to drive to New Hampshire for New Year's Eve. She admits to feeling a "twinge" of hesitation due to experiences with unreliable Land Rovers in the past, but a glance at the Evoque's unremarkable service history allayed her fears (a bum sensor and a squeaky door hinge have been its biggest issues in 25,000 miles). As she made her way through Pennsylvania, she encountered the snow -- "whiteout, snowing snowballs snow." She credits the Evoque's all-wheel drive and our Pirelli Scorpion winter tires with getting her through safely. Like other Land Rovers, the Evoque also has a Terrain Response system with a setting for snow. The system adjusts the engine, transmission, stability control, and center differential to maximize traction in the wet stuff.
Jennings avoided snow on the way back to Michigan but still had to get through strong winds. Not a problem for the squat, wide Evoque. "I never felt the gusts behind the wheel," she says, comparing it favorably to taller, narrower crossovers like the Audi Q5.
Closer to home, the Evoque has won praise for standard and optional features that make bitter cold mornings almost tolerable. The seats and the steering wheel have heating elements (part of a $1000 "climate comfort" package); large, physical dials below the touchscreen make it easy to crank up the temperature without removing one's gloves; and a heated front windshield and warm washer fluid (also part of the climate package) render the dreaded ice scraper nearly obsolete.
Earlier in the season, editors complained that the winter tires upset the Evoque's ride quality, which was already on the firm side. Those complaints have died down as the snow has piled up. "Having driven the Evoque in a little bit of powder and ice, I can say that I'll happily deal with the ride-quality trade-off," says associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. "This little Range Rover is nigh unstoppable." It helps that the Evoque's interior remains rattle-free despite the hard ride.
The toughest winter terrain around Ann Arbor is likely deputy editor Joe DeMatio's steep driveway. "The Evoque slithers up without a problem," he says. Backing down is a bit harder. We've become accustomed to relying on the rearview camera rather than the tiny (read: almost useless) rear window, but Old Man Winter constantly gums up said camera with salt, ice, and mud. "How about an automatic washer mechanism for the rearview camera lens?" suggests DeMatio. For now, he resorts to parking and wiping the camera lens clean. "Such poor visibility might be a deal-breaker for some buyers," he notes.
The Evoque is entering the final few months of its time with us. Stay tuned to find out how strong it finishes out its year.