Budget-conscious families drawn to the Land Rover brand haven't had much choice in SUVs. The bluff-looking, mild-performing LR2 ute has been the Brit's only off-roader to check in below the $50,000 mark--our unofficial price cap here at FamilyCarGuide.
That changes this year with the stylish 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, a new crossover with a base price of just under $44,000, and some running gear in common with the LR2, but a shape all its own.
We're giving the Evoque a rating of 7 here at FamilyCarGuide. The Evoque's positioned more as a crossover with good fuel economy and good on-road handling, with a pinch of off-road talent left intact for those who need it. It's no value, and its reliability and safety are yet unproven, but it's a striking alternative to the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60.
The Evoque isn't as tall or as long as its LR2 cousin, but it's not too small inside for young families or even medium-sized adults in back, even as a three-door. In both that version and in the five-door, the Evoque still is wider than the LR2, and elbow and shoulder room are pretty good. There's not an excess of knee room to go around, particularly in the back seat, but even with the gorgeous panoramic glass roof fitted--and do get it--head room is good in both rows of seats. The roof also helps relieve the dark, snug feeling in the back seat of three-door versions. Cargo space is excellent for its size, and bigger than in some more traditional-looking luxury crossovers.
Land Rover only sells the Evoque under the Range Rover sub-brand, and splits the lineup into three trim levels. All versions, from the base "Pure" edition, have power features; AM/FM/CD players with 380 watts of sound and a USB port, plus touchscreen controls; and automatic climate controls. The "Prestige" version--in five-door form only--loads up on leather and wood trim and luxury features like a power tailgate. The top Dynamic model, in either body style, has more electric color combinations and an optional handling package that uses magnetically controlled shocks to smooth out ride while firming up handling.