- Brilliant exterior design
- Surprising interior space
- Punchy turbo engine
- Lots of all-weather capability
- Smooth new 9-speed transmission
- Is it a coupe or a crossover?
- Is it sporty or an SUV?
- The turbo four can still be a bit raucous
- Three-door back seats aren't easy to reach
The 2014 Range Rover Evoque may not be as burly as its bigger brand-mates, but it's every bit as sophisticated and stylish.
The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque may be the best-looking compact crossover utility around. The British call them "soft-roaders," but the Evoque pairs beauty with brains to make a surprisingly sensible vehicle that packs a lot of space into a small footprint. It's still a luxury vehicle, so it doesn't compete on value with the volume crossovers from bigger brands.
But while there are a growing number of coupe-styled crossovers entering the market--the latest is the BMW X4, joining the Infiniti QX70 (nee FX)--the Evoque interprets its role with suave grace and quiet confidence. After you've spent some time living with it, the notion that it might compare to something like the cartoonish MINI Cooper Paceman recedes into the rear-view mirror.
Now in its third year, the Evoque gets a mechanical upgrade for 2014. A new nine-speed automatic transmission reaches the range, offering smoother shifts and closer ratios. The result is a slight but noticeable improvement to gas mileage, from last year'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). In everyday driving, the difference isn't hugely perceptible, though it does smooth out some of the coarseness we had previously observed in the Evoque's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
That turbo-four engine rates 240 horsepower, and is well-suited to the Evoque's size and nature. The turbocharged nature means plenty of torque, giving the Evoque a peppy, punchy feel. Since the Evoque is relatively small and light, it even manages to come off as nimble, too. The combination makes for a more car-like driving experience than you'll find in the rest of the crossover-coupe world.
Also new for the 2014 model year is the Active Driveline system, with active differentials and torque vectoring, which is equipped standard in all models. The new system aims to reduce drag on the drivetrain by de-coupling the four-wheel-drive system automatically at speeds above 22 mph, then re-enabling it within 300 milliseconds whenever it's needed. Active Torque Biasing and Torque Vectoring also aim to improve traction and distribution of torque to the optimal wheel in low-grip conditions or in performance driving scenarios.
Inside the Evoque, the cabin is compact but well-arranged, making the most of the available space. The front seats are spacious and comfortable, with a wide range of adjustment; the rear seats are a bit tighter, but still suitable for adults. In three-door models, entry to the rear seats can be a bit difficult, but the five-door version remedies that completely. Cargo space is not excessive, but given the Evoque's exterior dimensions, it's reasonable at 24 cubic feet, and the space itself is wide and easy to access.
For the 2014 model year, there are five variants of the five-door model, including the Pure ($41,995), Pure Plus ($44,995), Pure Premium ($49,595), Prestige ($56,295), and Dynamic ($57,195). The Evoque Coupe, or three-door, comes in three varieties: Pure Plus ($45,040); Pure Premium ($50,595); and Dynamic ($58,195).