The Car Connection Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Overview
Stylish and sized for urban deployment, the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque shares some of its mechanicals with the Land Rover LR2 and its replacement, the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
It is easily the most design-driven model in Land Rover's stable, past or present. And despite the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque's unusually long name, it's actually one of the shortest vehicles in the British SUV maker's lineup.
As part of the Range Rover sub-brand, the Evoque gets more luxurious trim and features than the more pedestrian Land Rover offerings. It's a rival for vehicles such as the Volvo XC60, Audi Q3 and Q5, and even the BMW X4.
The Evoque receives its first big update for 2016, and the two current body styles will soon be joined by a convertible.
MORE: Read our 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque review
The Evoque makes all the right moves for those uninterested in the rugged-chic SUV aesthetic. It's also drawing in admirers who want the Land Rover cachet but don’t want a big vehicle or large fuel bills. Unlike many other crossovers, which start as SUVs to the eyes and become softer in the details and the drive, the Evoque’s look starts as a car and gets just a few rugged touches in its look. The roofline itself could be mistaken for that of a sports coupe, and its backward slope and blacked-out pillars make it especially distinctive from afar, but it’s the squat, muscular stance, really, that make the Evoque what it is. Not since the AMC Eagle has there been a vehicle that looks so carlike, yet so brawny.
All Evoques were initially powered by a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; a higher-power variant was added for 2015. The engine is a bit coarse in character but moves the crossover swiftly. The transmission was initially a 6-speed automatic transmission that worked well enough, offering quick shifts when requested, and has since been replaced by a 9-speed auto that is equally willing but improves fuel economy. With a version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response all-wheel-drive system, as well as an excellent magnetically controlled suspension on many models, the Evoque feels as much in its element on potholed city streets and curvy mountain roads as it does on a forest trail. Acceleration to 60 mph happens in just over seven seconds, with a top speed of 135 mph, and in its initial year the Evoque earned EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.
Interior appointments for the Evoque are on the mark in every respect—warm and inviting, with a soft padded dash, earthy (Prestige models) or colorful (Dynamic models) tones and contrasting trims, and in general it feels more luxury coupe than off-roader.
At just 172 inches long, the Evoque is truly compact, which makes it a great partner in crowded cities. The packaging and electric power steering make parking and maneuvering in tight spots very easy. It still manages to be comfortable for four adults, although getting full-sized folks into the back seat of the two-door model is a little tough. The Evoque keeps everyone inside connected to the outside world, with a USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and a touch-screen head unit all standard. Navigation is an option, as are high-powered sound systems.
For 2013, a new Pure model ditched the panoramic glass roof and some of the interior leather (replaced by synthetic suede) to shave $2,000 off the entry price to the range. A new automated parking feature was also made available for 2013, and off-road navigation is now included in the standard navigation package.
For the 2014 model year, a new 9-speed automatic transmission was fitted to the Evoque, offering smoother shifts and closer ratios. The result is a slight, but noticeable improvement to gas mileage, from 2013's 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined to this year's ratings of 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway).
Land Rover also updated the all-wheel-drive system for 2014. The new Active Driveline system is standard on all Evoque models and includes torque vectoring and active differentials. It also manages to reduce fuel use by de-coupling the four-wheel-drive componentry when speeds rise above 22 mph, thus reducing drag on the driveline. If needed above that speed, the four-wheel drive can be called up within 300 milliseconds whenever necessary.
For the 2015 Range Rover Evoque, the Autobiography trim has been applied to the standard-output model to join the Dynamic trim. Both feature enhanced body styling, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, and premium leather interior details. The Dynamic also benefits from a chassis that’s been optimized for sharper handling, as well as larger brakes and a more responsive transmission.
The Evoque is coming in for a mild visual refresh for the 2016 model year. A revised front fascia brings larger intakes at the corner, a cleaned-up grille, and full-LED headlights all make the Evoque look a bit more like the handsome Range Rover Sport. The interior gets some updates as well, and Land Rover is also using the 2016 Range Rover Evoque to debut its new smartphone-enabled InControl system. It allows control of select smartphone apps (iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Glympse, others) through the vehicle's touchscreen and buttons. InControl works with Android and Apple phones once they're connected to a USB port in the Evoque.
Land Rover has announced that it will produce a version of the Evoque Convertible Concept it showed at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. This two-door, droptop crossover would follow in the inauspicious foot steps of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, but it looks to be a bit more tidy and Land Rover certainly hopes it will prove more popular. It will give the Evoque a third body style and is likely to arrive sometime in 2016 as a 2017 model.