We recently sent our Range Rover Evoque to the New York City area, where it spent time with senior editor Joe Lorio. Rather than muddle around in the suburban snarl, Lorio drove the Evoque some 250 miles north on a family trip to the Adirondack Mountains. Here are his thoughts:
I wished it could have stuck around longer.
"It's impressive how well the Evoque distills the Range Rover panache into such a diminutive package. Although I'm generally not a fan of the trend toward high beltlines and squashed rooflines, this car pulls off that aesthetic very well. Of course, visibility to the rear is horrible, but the view out the front and to the sides is better than expected due to well-shaped A-pillars and decently sized side windows. The rear seat might be a cave, though, were it not for the dramatic (and optional) full-length glass roof.
"The Range Rover look is also evident in the cabin design, with rugged-looking, squared-off shapes and high-quality materials. The center console is simply but intelligently designed to corral a good amount of junk in a fairly small space. I suppose that's one bonus of the dial-a-gear shifter -- it takes up less room than a traditional gear lever -- but I still find it gimmicky, and the act of twisting a knob is less physically satisfying than moving a lever. The steering wheel is a nice size and feels good; it's loaded with all manner of switches, which is fine, but the four-way controllers are not as easy to use by feel as they are, for instance, in Volkswagens. The touchscreen works well, but I would prefer that the navigation system's zoom function and the stereo's preset buttons and tuning function be outside of the screen. I love the large, simple climate controls.
"The 2.0-liter turbo four does an admirable job propelling this little ute. Performance is lively and throttle response is good. If only it returned better fuel economy: we got an indicated 25 mpg on our four-hour drive. That's much better than what we'd expect to see in a big Range Rover but not great for a vehicle as small as the Evoque with a four-cylinder engine. Once we reached the Adirondacks, I was able to enjoy winding along two-lane roads. The nicely weighted steering and good body control made it easy to precisely guide this machine along the busy, narrow parkways. The only downside to the chassis tuning is a fairly stiff ride.
"For our trip we had three people, two duffels, one set of skis, a sled, a small cooler, and miscellaneous paraphernalia. It was like putting together a puzzle to make it all to fit. The cargo hold is quite small and pretty shallow front-to-back even with one rear seat folded. Four people would have to pack very lightly to use the Evoque as a vacation-mobile.
"Despite that limitation, I enjoyed traveling with this crossover. It's very pleasant to drive, it looks cool, it's loaded with features, and the interior is a nice place to spend time. I wished it could have stuck around longer."
Indeed, with only a few months remaining in its Four Seasons test, we weren't about to let the Range Rover slip away from the home office for an extended period. After one week, road test editor Christopher Nelson drove the Evoque back to Ann Arbor. That was enough time for the crossover to become acquainted with a New York area Range Rover dealer, which Lorio visited when the low coolant light flashed on. We've already had the coolant sensor replaced, but this time it turns out the car simply was low on coolant. Who'd have thought?